Hair loss has increasingly become an issue for many men. Although there are a number of over-the-counter products available in the market, one Rx product that seems to work wonders for men facing androgenic alopecia is Minoxidil. In this article, let’s take a look at what is minoxidil and its mechanism of action.
What is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is an FDA approved prescription based drug which is not only used to cure male pattern baldness but also androgenic alopecia in women. Surprisingly, as of now, it is the only FDA approved drug for treating androgenic alopecia. In the early 1970s, Minoxidil was used as an oral drug to control high blood pressure and hypertension. At that time, it was noticed that people who were consuming this drug faced serious side effects like Hypertrichosis (abnormal growth of thick hair). In 1986, after the approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the 2% topical minoxidil solution was marketed for hair regrowth in men.
How does it work?
A topical solution of Minoxidil ranging from 2%-5% concentration is used for treating androgenic alopecia. Minoxidil extends the growing phase of hair follicles. It does not block DHT (male hormone) but creates an idyllic growth environment for the hair follicles to grow thicker and faster. Since it is a vasodilator, it ensures better blood flow to the scalp and increases the size of the hair follicles on the scalp. Initially, some people may experience hair shedding when they start using minoxidil because the new hair follicles begin to push out the existing ones.
Minoxidil can take some time to show results sometimes as long as 3 months. But with regular use, visible results can be seen within 4-6 months. Although a variety of other DHT blocking shampoos also help in controlling hair loss but there is little evidence to show that DHT blockers helps in hair regrowth. Hence, to complement a DHT shampoo you must use a product that promotes hair regrowth.
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Will it have any side effects?
Minoxidil topical solution is generally well tolerated. Dermatological adverse events are the only side effects. Systemic side effects are uncommon since very little minoxidil is absorbed after topical application. For best results, use an alcohol-free minoxidil solution.
The topical application of minoxidil may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, a few have been observed in a very less percentage of the population. However, the side effects caused are easily reversible.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur.
- Itching or skin rash – the area where the lotion/solution is applied becomes itchy due to skin irritation.
- Dryness of scalp
- Acne at the site of application
- Burning of scalp
- Facial hair growth
- Inflammation or soreness at the root of the hair
- Reddened skin
3) Very Rare-only when there is too much absorption of minoxidil into the system
- Blurred vision or other changes in vision
- Chest pain
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Numbness or tingling sensation in hands, feet, or face
- Swelling of face, hands, feet, or lower legs