Minoxidil has been widely used as a safe, effective, over-the-counter drug in pharmacies, and easily available for men and women with mild to moderate hair loss problems.
The popularity of Minoxidil is due to the visible benefits of being a powerful drug with a dual and vasodilator effect, which helps stimulate hair follicles to promote hair growth and helps stop hair loss.
In its beginnings, it was an oral medication for the treatment of arterial hypertension (HTN) due to its vasodilator effect. The unwanted effect of excessive hair growth (hirsutism) was observed in some of the treated persons. This adverse effect and the serendipitous discovery served to create a topical, magisterial formula for men and women.
Later, it was approved in 1988 by the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) as one of the most effective drugs for the treatment of androgenic alopecia (baldness or common hair loss).
What are the effects of Minoxidil on the scalp?
The stimulating effect of Minoxidil increases the volume of hair follicles, multiplies the number of follicular cells, and prolongs their survival time
- Promotes hair growth through increased vascularity produced by a growth factor called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) which is responsible for follicular stimulation.
- Thanks to its vasodilator effect, it is responsible for promoting vascularization of the follicle root, stimulates capillary microcirculation by increasing blood flow and as a result, a greater supply of oxygen is obtained that stimulates hair growth.
- Increases the number of follicles in the growth phase (anagen phase) and causes the hair in the aging phase (telogen phase) to shed. This action causes thicker follicles to appear, improving follicular density.
Who can use Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is suitable to be applied in women and men in cases of alopecia or hair loss. As a general guideline, concentrations of 5% are recommended for men and 3% for women to avoid the appearance of facial hair (hirsutism), which has been reported in 5-10% of cases.
Presentations of Minoxidil
On the market, you can find various types of presentations and different trademarks. The most common commercial presentation so far has been in lotion/serum format. We must also highlight a very innovative presentation of Minoxidil in foam, which belongs exclusively to the Rogaine® brand.
How is Minoxidil applied?
With dry scalp, apply 1ml (serum/lotion) or a small portion (in foam) to the areas affected by alopecia and to increase penetration, it is advisable to perform a gentle massage applying circular movements with the fingertips.
What is the ideal time and frequency to apply Minoxidil?
It has been carefully seen in the scientific area that there is no set time for the application of Minoxidil. The important thing is the constancy and the amount of product administered (1ml or a small portion). This section highlights the most effective and easy guidelines.
The application must be daily and continuously. Minoxidil should be applied every 12 hours (morning and evening) to dry skin on the scalp.
Another very popular option is the application at night because its action takes place while the person sleeps, fulfilling the 6 hours of minimum action of the product. In the morning, you can wash your hair before starting your daily routine. This application guideline is usually effective for those in which routines or habits are difficult to follow.
Why does the treatment with Minoxidil fail?
The main causes are:
- Increase in hair loss. It occurs between the 2nd and 8th week of treatment but this period is temporary and reversible. After the mentioned time the falling process stops.
- Early suspension due to failure of expectations (the response can only be observed after 8-16 weeks) and is more frequent in men.
- Adverse reactions.
When do you start to see the results of Minoxidil?
After the first 8 weeks of treatment, the first positive point of Minoxidil can be noticed with the stopping of hair loss. The improvement in capillary density is usually noticeable after 4-6 months, its maximum point being 1 year after treatment.
You should always have a continuous treatment for 90 daysto begin to see important results of growth and an increase in hair density in the affected areas.
Does it have side effects?
The side effects described are rare, but these side effects have been documented in several medical studies:
- Dizziness and nausea.
- Seborrheic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. Attributed to oily textured serum or lotion that irritates the scalp.
- Increased facial hair in women (facial hypertrichosis).
Who cannot use Minoxidil?
Its use is contraindicated in people with heart problems or who are taking treatment to regulate blood pressure.
Also, lactating or pregnant women should always evaluate the possibility of treatment with Minoxidil with their trusted doctor before carrying out any application and thus avoid complications or unwanted effects.
Important considerations of Minoxidil
It is very important to maintain the long-term treatment, otherwise, if it is suspended, the capillary density returns to the situation it had before starting Minoxidil and this occurs 2 to 3 months after the suspension of the drug.
As it is a long-term treatment, it is preferable to set a realistic goal of Minoxidil application that can be maintained (for example, once a day in the evening from Monday to Friday), rather than starting to use it twice a day for a few months and later the person gets tired and stops using it.