Minoxidil: Uses, Effectiveness, Treatment, and Side effects

Do you find it difficult to experience significant hair or beard growth? Are you fed up of battling with male-pattern or female-pattern hair loss? How would you feel if I told you there is a holy grail a click away from you? Thanks to the advancement in medicine, more medications are made available to the public to tackle several conditions, including androgenic alopecia (hair loss) and this guide will show you everything you need to know about this wonder medication.

What Is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil was initially a medication meant for the treatment of hypertension/blood pressure. This antihypertensive vasodilator medication works directly on the blood vessel walls to prevent the surge of calcium into these walls. Coincidental, medical experts and users noticed it also caused an unwanted side effect – hypertrichosis (excess hair growth).

Minoxidil

Fast forward to today, minoxidil is available in both 2% and 5% solution, which each of them targeted at women and men, respectively. Interestingly, it is also available in a formula that promotes beard growth – minoxidil beard. Amazing! Isn’t it? And not just that, it is FDA-approved. So, you can safely use it without worries. So far, this has remained the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of hair loss.

How Does Minoxidil Work?

This is an important question in the mind of every would-be minoxidil user. Minoxidil increases blood flow by widening the arteries. In the scalp region, this action increases the diameter of hair follicles, prolonging the anagen phase, also known as the growth stage. As a result, users end up with thicker, fuller hair. Let’s quickly run through each phase of the hair cycle.

The hair cycle comprises three phases: the anagen (growth) phase, the catagen (transition phase), and telogen (resting) phase.

  • The growth phase signifies the beginning of a hair cycle, in which the new strands of hair exit the scalp. 
  • During the transition phase, baby hairs(vellus hair) are pushed out to make way for stronger and denser hair follicles (terminal hair).
  • The Telogen phase is a period where the hair follicles rest. About 10% to 15% of the hair falls in this category.

Unfortunately, some folks never get to experience a new cycle after the telogen phase as a result of male-pattern and female-pattern androgenetic alopecia.

How Effective Is Minoxidil?

According to a report by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), in a randomized clinical trial of 393 men with androgenic alopecia, 5% minoxidil treatment created effective results in 62% of them after 48 weeks. Many of them ascertained improvements in quality lifestyle and positive effects on the first impressions they made at work.

Minoxidil Treatment

Your scalp should be dry before applying 5% concentration of minoxidil on the affected areas, twice daily. You can use 2% concentration on unwanted areas, an example being your eyebrows. Wash your hands as soon as you are through with the treatment. Results are visible from 4 to 6 months of consistency. However, ensure you continue the treatment schedule even after you have seen improvements, as this will help you to maintain healthy hair.

Are There Side Effects?

Just like other medications, minoxidil is not without its side effects. You may find a slew of adverse reactions using this medication, though they are mild and temporary. Some common effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Increased appetite
  • Lightheadedness
  • Temporary hair shedding (Telogen hair)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Bloating
  • Excess hair growth

If the reactions you experience are severe and long-lasting, then discontinue the medication and see a doctor immediately. Read the instructions on the Patient Information Leaflet before using minoxidil.

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