Minoxidil extends the growing phase of hair follicles. It does not block DHT but creates idyllic growth environment for the hair follicles to grow thicker and faster.
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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 Minoxidil 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.
Also Read: Which one is more effective, Minoxidil or Finasteride?
How to Use Minoxidil?
It's crucial to know exactly how to use minoxidil to get the best results for your hair. After all it is an effective treatment to promote hair growth in men and even avoid male pattern baldness. To get best results from this topical solution, ensure that your scalp is clean and dry (or damp) before applying this medication. Apply this onto your hair twice, everyday. And, on religiously applying this topical solution, you may see a difference within 4-6 months of daily use (remember, twice a day).
Also Read: How to make the use of Minoxidil more effective?
Here's how to use Minoxidil solution:
- Ensure your scalp is clean and dry (damp hair works too)
- Take a dropper and fill it with 1 ml of the medication or just apply 20 drops onto your scalp
- Divide your hair into 5-6 parts and apply this topical solution, starting from the crown of your scalp. You can apply 1-2 drops on each section and massage that portion of your scalp
- You can part your hair based on the affected area to evenly apply the solution onto that part properly
- Let it sit for the next 4-5 hours
- If you have a sensitive scalp, don't apply minoxidil solution on the days you are chemically treating your hair (hair color, straightening, etc.)
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Does Minoxidil Have 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.
In exceptional cases, here are some of the side effects that minoxidil may have, depending on cases that are- less common, rare and very rare.
What are the Side Effects of Minoxidil?
Here are are few side effects of minoxidil based on the cases- less common, rare and very rare
- 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
Precautionary Tip – Before using minoxidil tell your doctor if you are allergic to it or if you have any other allergies.
Minoxidil where to buy ?
There are various sites such as Flipkart, Amazon, Man Matters, etc., where you could buy Minoxidil from. You could also find it on our website Man Matters.
Where to apply Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is applied on the scalp. Ensure that your scalp is clean and dry before applying one dose (1 ml or 20 drops of minoxidil solution) of it to the crown of your scalp or to the affected area. Also, you don’t need to shampoo every time you apply this medication. After applying, ensure not to wet your hair for at least the next 4-5 hours. An effective way is to part your hair into 6-7 sections (based on the affected areas) and massage 1-2 drops of the solution to each of these sections.
What are the side effects of minoxidil?
Minoxidil is considered to be safe to use. Thus, a minoxidil with a content 2% or 5% is marketed. However, it is advisable to consult an expert first, before using this topical medication. The rare case side effects to it may include burning scalp, flushing, fainting, faster heart rate, retained sodium and water and even at times, abnormal hair growth.
Is Minoxidil safe to use?
Yes, minoxidil is safe to use. Minoxidil is a Health Canada and US FDA-approved medication for hair loss in men and women. The drug is marketed as 2% and 5% topical solutions. However, consult an expert first before applying the solution.
Does minoxidil regrow hair?
Yes, if you are in the initial stages of pattern baldness, minoxidil does help regrow hair and slow down hair loss. Make sure you apply the solution twice everyday, consistently, to start seeing the resulting within the next 5-6 months. Moreover, this is the only topical medication that is FDA-approved and a clinically proven treatment to fight hair loss and help hair regrowth. The exact mechanism on how Minoxidil helps with regrowth is not fully understood, the treatment helps widen the blood vessels to deliver more oxygen-rich blood to the hair follicles. It also helps increasing the size of the hair follicles, which promotes the growth of thicker, stronger hairs.
Does Minoxidil cause hair loss?
No, Minoxidil does not cause hair loss per se. However, it generates an early anagen phase, when you apply it to your scalp at the start of your treatment phase. This implies, the solution causes the hair follicles to prematurely go through the growth process before starting to regrow. This is the reason why many men experience hair loss when they have just started using the minoxidil treatment. This is absolutely normal as its only a part of how the mechanism works.
Does Minoxidil work on frontal baldness?
Studies suggest that minoxidil might not be very effective on treating frontal baldness. However, minoxidil has an overall hair loss and hair regrowth treatment is very effective when used religiously but most users haven't gotten the desired results on their frontal baldness. It works the best in the vertex area, which is also know as the crown (the highest point of your scalp).