Minoxidil (Rogaine) is an over the counter medication known for its ability to prevent or slow down hair loss and promote hair regrowth. Rogaine was the first FDA approved medication used for hair loss prevention. For many years now, it has been available without prescription for treatment of hair loss in both men and women among some other baldness treatments such as Finasteride or a hair transplant. Unfortunately, measurable changes disappear within one to two years after the discontinuation of treatment. Minoxidil began as an oral drug for treatment for high blood pressure. After some time it was discovered to have the interesting side-effect for hair growth and the reversal of baldness, and in the 1980s a 2%topical solution was produced to be used for treating baldness and hair loss. The brand name it was given in the United States is Rogaine. Treatments usually include a 5% concentration solution designed for men, and 2% concentrations are designed for women. In 2007 a foam-based formulation of 5% Minoxidil was seen as an effective treatment of male pattern baldness without the usual side-effects of the topical solution such as itching and skin irritation. The mechanism which causes Minoxidil to promote hair growth is not yet fully understood. Minoxidil is a potassium channel agonist and contains the chemical structure of nitric oxide, a blood vessel dilator, and may be a nitric oxide. Studies show that Minoxidil is less effective than Finasteride but the combination of the two drugs can be more potent.

Side Effects of Minoxidil

When used as a drug to prevent hair loss, the most common side effect is an itchy scalp. In some cases Minoxidil may initially cause an increase in hair loss within the first few weeks. This phenomenon is called shedding and long-term is seen as a positive effect since the shed hair strands will regrow within a few months with greater strength. There have been cases of allergic reactions to Minoxidil or some of its non-active ingredients, which is found in some forms of topical Rogaine. Large amounts of Minoxidil can lower a person’s blood pressure. If a person uses Minoxidil to stop hair loss for a length of time and then stops taking the drug, more hair loss will occur. This spectacle is called catch-up hair loss.

The other rare side-effects include acne on the area where it is used, lightheadedness and headaches, blurry vision, drop of blood pressure and chest pain. All the side-effects in the above list except for acne or allergic reactions may be an indicator that too much of the drug is being used. Other research has found Minoxidil can be passed from a nursing mother to her breast feeding child.

Other rare side-effects include acne on the area where it is being used, headaches and lightheadedness, drop of blood pressure, blurry vision and chest pain. All the side-effects in the above list except for acne or allergic reaction may be an indicator that too much of the drug is being used. It has also been found that the drug can be passed from a mother to a child via breast milk.


Unlike Finasteride, Minoxidil could be used in women with hair loss to increase the bulk of hair and prevent further balding. Only the 2% concentration of Minoxidil is approved for use in women. Women are generally more sensitive to the side effects of Minoxidil through decreasing blood pressure (hypotension). The allergic reaction for women is also more common. Facial hair could occasionally be seen in women who use Minoxidil for the treatment of their hair loss. Limiting the application of medication carefully to the scalp can prevent this side effect. At US Hair Restoration, we always perform a microscopic miniaturization study before starting patient on any medications. From this we have a complete mapping of scalp hair miniaturization which could be used to follow the effectiveness of our treatments. .

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