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About Minoxidil

This page will save you time researching Minoxidil. It is a collection of information from many sources on the Internet, the Physician's Desk Reference and Ferri's Clinical Advisor.

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil (mi NOCK si dill) is a vasodilator. That means it relaxes veins and arteries causing them to expand. This lowers blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood. Although Minoxidil is used to regulate blood pressure, this page is about the topical use of Minoxidil for hair loss.

The 2% solution of Minoxidil has been available since the late 1980s as an approved treatment for hair loss in both men and women. It is available over-the-counter, without a prescription, both as Rogaine® and in less expensive generic formulations.

Minoxidil, sold as Rogaine® 2%, is the only medication officially approved by the FDA for the treatment of hair loss in women.

When it was first introduced, Rogaine received a great deal of media attention as the first hair restoration medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But over time, Rogaine did not live up to the so-called "miracle drug" expectations implied by the media. There was a lot of disappointment when the results were often less than spectacular.

How does Minoxidil work?

Minoxidil is applied topically which means that it is applied directly to scalp skin where stimulation of new hair growth is desired. The recommended twice a day application is a problem for many users. For those with short hair this is not too difficult but with longer hair it is easier said than done.

The hair restoring property of Minoxidil was an accidental discovery. Minoxidil was first developed as an anti-hypertensive, that is a drug designed to lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. But Minoxidil turned out to have an effect on the cellular activity of hair follicles and the growth rate of hair. No one knows if the vasodilating effect of Minoxidil is the cause of its benefit or exactly how it does work.

How long does it take to work?

It may take from three to nine months to tell if Minoxidil is working and not everyone sees a benefit.

What side effects do users of Minoxidil report?

The most common problems with Minoxidil are changes in hair texture, change in hair color, scalp flaking (dandruff), itching and irritation.

Note that there is a slight risk of initial shedding caused by use of Minoxidil.

Minoxidil solutions stronger 5% are not usually recommended for hair loss because if it gets on other skin, such as your forehead or ears, it can cause hair to grow there.

A less common side effect is skin rash.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following rare side effects occur:
  • increase in size or darkness of fine body hair
  • dizziness
  • breast tenderness
  • rash
  • headache
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • acne at the site of application
  • burning of scalp
  • increased hair loss
  • inflammation or soreness at root of hair
  • reddened skin
Rare: Call your doctor if too much Minoxidil is being absorbed into your body. If so, you may experience:
  • chest pain
  • blurred vision or other changes in vision
  • decrease in sexual ability or desire*
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • fainting
  • lightheadedness
  • flushing
  • rapid weight gain
  • headache
  • numbness or tingling of hands, feet, or face
  • swelling of face, hands, feet, or lower legs
*According to the Mayo Clinic.

There may be other side effects not listed above in some patients. If you notice any other side effects, check with your doctor.

Storing Minoxidil

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store at room temperature, away from heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Do not flush unwanted medication down the toilet.

How do I know if Minoxidil will work for me?

The 2% Minoxidil has been shown to stimulate hair growth in about 30% of male patients and a slightly higher rate in females. The 5% solution has a slightly higher response rate.

It is not known why the effect of Minoxidil varies from person to person. No one can say in advance who will benefit from Minoxidil and who will not.

If the 2% solution is ineffective after 6 months, and you don't have any unwanted side effects (such as unwanted facial hair growth), then you may graduate to Minoxidil 5%.

Studies show that this medicine works best in younger patients who have a short history of hair loss.

Before you use Minoxidil

Before deciding to use this medicine, you should weigh the risks against the good it will do. This is a decision you should make with your doctor. For topical Minoxidil, you should consider the following:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to Minoxidil or propylene glycol (a non-active ingredient in this medicine).

Consult with your doctor if you have any allergies.

Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any preservatives or dyes.

Pregnancy and Minoxidil

The topical Minoxidil solution has not been studied in pregnant women. Before using this medicine, make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you plan on becoming pregnant.

Breast-feeding and Minoxidil

It is not known whether topical Minoxidil passes into breast milk. However, minoxidil in pill form does pass into breast milk. Minoxidil is not recommended during breast-feeding, because it may cause problems in nursing babies.

Children and Minoxidil

Minoxidil studies have been done only in adult patients and there is no specific information comparing use of topical Minoxidil in children with use in other age groups. The use of Minoxidil in infants and children is not recommended. If your child has hair loss, discuss it with your doctor.

Older adults and Minoxidil

Minoxidil has been tested in a limited number of older patients up to 65 years of age. Testing in older age groups has not shown to cause any different side effects or problems than it does in younger adults. Minoxidil has not been studied in patients older than 65 years of age.

Using other meds with Minoxidil

If you use any of the medicines below, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When using topical Minoxidil, it is especially important that your doctor know if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicine, especially medications for high blood pressure, diuretics (water pills), and vitamins. Use of the following products on your scalp may cause too much Minoxidil to be absorbed into the body and may increase the chance of side effects.
  • Tretinoin (Retin-A)
  • Petrolatum (Vaseline)
  • Corticosteroids (cortisone-like medicines)

Other Medical Problems

If you have other medical problems, the use of topical Minoxidil may affect them. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially heart disease or high blood pressure (Hypertension) or kidney disease. The topical Minoxidil solution has not been studied in patients with these conditions, but more serious problems may develop with the use of more medicine than is recommended over a large area causing too much Minoxidil to be absorbed into the body.

Will my hair fall out if I stop taking Minoxidil?

Like other hair loss products, whatever hair grows in because of the Minoxidil will fall out if you discontinue use. This typically takes place over the 12 months following discontinuing the product.

Applying Minoxidil

Follow your doctor's instructions on how to apply the solution and use the applicator if one is provided.

Make sure your hair and scalp are completely dry before applying this medicine.

Apply the amount prescribed to the area of the scalp where you want hair to grow. Begin in the center of the area and work your way out to the edges.

Do not shampoo your hair for 4 hours after applying Minoxidil.

Immediately after using Minoxidil, wash your hands to remove any excess. This will help to avoid transferring the medicine to other parts of the body.

Do not use a hairdryer to dry the scalp after you apply the Minoxidil solution. Using a hairdryer on the scalp may make the treatment less effective.

Allow the Minoxidil to completely dry for 2 to 4 hours after applying it. Minoxidil can stain clothing, hats, or bed linen if your hair or scalp is not fully dry after using the medicine.

If your scalp becomes abraded, irritated, or sunburned, check with your doctor before applying Minoxidil.

Warnings

You should find out what kind of hair loss you have before using Minoxidil. In some cases, it can do more harm than good. Have your doctor or dermatologist determine if you have Alopecia Areata or Telogen Effluvium. If you do then Minoxidil is not for you. This is why you should have bloodwork done before you begin any hair loss treatment.

This medicine comes with patient instructions. It is important that you read the instructions carefully.

It is very important that you use this medicine only as directed. Do not use more of it and do not use it more often than directed by your doctor. To do so may increase the chance of it being absorbed through the skin. Do not apply Minoxidil to other parts of your body. Absorption into the body may affect the heart and blood vessels.

Do not use any other skin products on the same skin area on which you use Minoxidil. You can use hair coloring, hair permanents, and hair relaxers during Minoxidil treatment as long as you wash the scalp just before applying these products. Do not double your doses of Minoxidil to make up for any missed doses.

Keep this medicine away from the eyes, nose, and mouth. If you should accidentally get some in your eyes, nose, or mouth, flush the area thoroughly with cool tap water.

You should know that this drug might make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how it affects you.

Alcohol can make the side effects from Minoxidil worse.

General Notes

Women have been shown to have a better response than men to topical Minoxidil.

Hair growth lasts only as long as you continue to use this medicine. If you stop, all results of therapy are typically lost over the next 3 to 6 months.

It is important that you report your progress to your doctor at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

Tell your doctor if you notice continued itching, redness, or burning of your scalp after you apply Minoxidil. If the itching, redness, or burning is severe, wash the medicine off and check with your doctor before using it again.

Hair loss may continue for 2 weeks after you start using Minoxidil. Tell your doctor if your hair loss continues for more than 2 weeks. Also, tell your doctor if your hair growth does not increase after using Minoxidil for 4 months.

If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using Minoxidil.

Your doctor may ask you to check your pulse (heart rate) daily. Your doctor or pharmacist can teach you how. Call your doctor if your heart rate increases by more than 20 beats per minute while at rest.

Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to Minoxidil. Your doctor may order other tests such as EKG (electrocardiogram) to monitor your heart function.

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory.

You should weigh yourself every day while using Minoxidil. Call your doctor if you experience rapid weight gain.

This medication is flammable: Keep away from fire or open flame.

Minoxidil is not recommended for men under 18 or over 65 years of age.

Ordering Minoxidil

In the USA Minoxidil is available over-the-counter.

Minoxidil is available in Canada, but only with a doctor's prescription. Check with your local pharmacy for availability in your country.

Minoxidil Feedback

After stopping treatment
Date: 4/27/2005
Halo, I am 21, considering to take procerin or minoxidil. My hair at crown is thinning now. One of my main concern is that if my hair will fall out after stop treatment. Is it true for minoixil (which is much cheaper)? How about procerin?
kal

AskDocWeb: Your hair will resume its normal loss after stopping minoxidil or any other hair loss product. Read more feedback about Minoxidil.

Most recent post: March 16, 2014

After reviewing over a dozen of the most well-known products for hair loss we have decided to recommend Profollica.


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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright © 2005-2014 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Minoxidil and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Askdocweb, Inc. may be paid a commission on products sold through links to other websites. For more information see FTC Disclaimer. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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