MINOXIDIL BEGAN AS A BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINE THAT HAD A SIDE EFFECT OF HAIR GROWTH. IT MUST BE TOPICALLY APPLIED TO GROW HAIR WHERE YOU WANT IT.
Minoxidil, the generic name for the brand name Rogaine, is the only FDA-approved topical lotion for the treatment of male pattern baldness. It was discovered much the same way as Propecia (finasteride — an internal medication for men only): when taken internally for the treatment of high blood pressure, doctors noticed a side effect of hair growth. Since the hair growth could not be contained, they discovered it could be applied topically to increase hair growth to selected areas only. Doctors and hair loss professionals agree that minoxidil can be a useful part of your total hair loss treatment plan for both men (in 5% concentration) and women (in 2% concentration).
How does minoxidil work?
Minoxidil, when applied topically, increases blood flow to the follicles, which can improve hair growth. Dr. Wasserbauer , a board-certified, California-based Hair Transplant Surgeon explains that minoxidil opens up blood vessels of the hair follicles so they grow more healthy hair. “But it doesn’t stimulate dead follicles to re-grow. Sometimes we use minoxidil with internal medication like Propecia that blocks DHT from shrinking follicles and/or low-level laser light therapy, which also stimulates follicles and creates stronger, better growth and healthier hair from follicles that are still alive,” explains Dr. Wasserbauer. “We use minoxidil with internal medication like Propecia that blocks DHT from shrinking follicles and/or low-level laser light therapy, which also stimulates follicles and creates stronger, better growth and healthier hair from follicles that are still alive,” explains Dr. Wasserbauer , a board-certified, California-based Hair Transplant Surgeon.
Is minoxidil for me?
- Am I experiencing hair loss that is progressive?
- Am I looking for a low-cost treatment option?
- Am I looking for only a topical hair loss treatment option?
What can I expect from minoxidil?
For men — While you can expect a marginal improvement, most doctors do not prescribe this as a front-line approach to male pattern baldness because it has no hormone-blocking effects that can produce and improve hair growth. Results from the use of minoxidil are small and temporary at best, advise many hair loss specialists. The newest foam applications seem to be more effective at putting the medication where it’s needed; some hair loss professionals have had good results using minoxidil in conjunction with other treatments.
For women — In women with diffuse Alopecia or thinning hair, many doctors find minoxidil more effective for women than men. Currently, the FDA has approved a 2% solution for women.
Complications of minoxidil
Side effects from topical application of minoxidil are uncommon as the amount absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream is minimal. Also, when you stop using minoxidil or any currently approved hair loss treatment, hair reverts to its previous pattern of hair loss and benefits will be lost.
Minoxidil: The bottom line
Consumers are best advised to rely on FDA-approved treatments and those provided by a skilled surgeon or hair loss professional.