Hair fall is a common problem among a large chunk of the population. These days, both men and women alike suffer from severe hair fall problems. While genetics plays a huge role in hair loss, secondary factors, such as unhealthy eating habits, stress, lack of sleep, and so on, also affect the hair. You will find several over-the-counter medications designed to tackle this issue, and Minoxidil is one of them.
Minoxidil is famous all over the world and is available in different brand names including Rogaine, Mintop, and more. Aside from that, this medication is available as either oral or topical solutions.
That being said, many still ask: does Minoxidil really work? Or is it just another product offering false hopes? Well, we have decided to dig deep into this subject to find out everything about this so-called miracle hair regrowth drug and whether it is worth buying or not.
Now, before we can understand how it works, we must first talk about the many different causes of hair loss and hair fall. In this way, we will have a better understanding of this rather unfortunate condition.
Different Causes of Hair Fall
While hair loss is more common in men than women as they suffer from male pattern baldness, it isn’t unusual for women to have hair loss too. Hair loss or thinning hair in women also could be a result of a variety of reasons. These reasons could be as temporary and simple as deficiency of vitamins to something more complex like a serious health condition.
Treating hair loss for both men and women entirely depends on what’s causing it in the first place. Below, we start off listing some of the highly common reasons and then follow with some the uncommon ones as to why you see lesser or thinner hair on your head.
- Physical Stress
Something as basic as the flu, severe illness, or even a car accident could possibly trigger temporary hair loss. Any one of these triggers could result in a kind of hair fall called telogen effluvium. How so?
Our hair comes with a life cycle that is fully programmed. This includes a growth phase, a rest phase, and a shedding phase. In case of physical stress, the whole cycle gets affected and puts more of our hair into the shedding phase. Thankfully, this is completely temporary, and your hair cycle will revert back to normal once the stress eases.
Pregnancy is yet another kind of physical stress. That, along with all the hormones in the body, directly affect your hair. You will notice that the hair loss is more noticeable after childbirth rather than during the pregnancy, as giving birth can be traumatic for the mother.
Even for this kind of hair loss, the solution is awfully simple. All you need to do is wait, and things will work itself out eventually.
- Too Much Vitamin A
If you consume too many medications or supplements that contain Vitamin A, they could potentially trigger hair loss. Adults are not supposed to consume more than 5,000 IU (International Units) of Vitamin A in one single day.
This issue is reversible, though. All you need to do is stop or limit your consumption of Vitamin A, and your hair fall will reduce over time.
- Lack of Protein
If your diet lacks adequate protein intake, then your body is forced to ration the protein by halting the growth of your hair. This typically happens about three months after a dip in protein intake. Hence, for a healthy head of hair, ensure that you stock on a ton of protein on a daily basis.
- Emotional Stress
While this isn’t as common as physical stress, emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one or an on-going divorce, can potentially cause hair loss. In most cases, the emotional stress will not precipitate the hair loss. It will rather exacerbate the problem that already exists. This too requires time for the hair loss to stop. Exercising, yoga, or going for therapy could all help with emotional stress.
- Deficiency of Vitamins B
Having low levels of Vitamin B could potentially trigger hair loss in both men and women. However, this is quite uncommon in the United States. Tackling this issue can be simple. You can either consume Vitamin B medications or supplements. Alternatively, you can naturally find Vitamin B in foods like meat, fish, non-citrus fruits, and starchy vegetables.
- Quick Weight Loss
If you have recently lost a lot of weight, it could be categorized as another form of physical stress, which could either result in hair thinning or hair loss. While weight loss is ultimately good for your health, your hair is undoubtedly going to get affected. All you need to do is wait a couple of months as this issue will correct itself.
- Over Styling
It goes without saying that years of styling your hair by using hair straighteners, curling irons, constantly bleaching and coloring your hair, and several other hair treatments could have an adverse impact on your hair. All of these practices could affect the roots and completely stop the hair growth.
It is essential that you give your hair a break from styling from times to time. While avoiding heat treatments is one way to go, you must also use a conditioner after every time you shampoo. Furthermore, only let your hair air dry as often as possible.
Unfortunately, a few of the drugs used to beat cancer also affect your hair. Chemotherapy can destroy the rapidly dividing cells. While these are typically cancer cells, the hair too is another rapidly dividing cell. In such cases, there is nothing you can do to help your hair loss until the chemotherapy stops. Once that stops, your hair will begin to grow back normally.
Hypothyroidism is basically a medical term for those who have an underactive gland of the thyroid. This is a little gland that is located inside your neck, and it produces hormones that are highly critical to a good metabolism and also growth and development.
The lack of this hormone could potentially contribute to hair loss. Treating this issue will require you to consume synthetic thyroid medication. Doing so will help bring your thyroid functions to normal.
It is said that one in every 10 women who are aged between 20 and 49 suffer from anemia. This occurs due to a deficiency of iron, but it is easily fixable. First, you will need to do a simple blood test that determines if you suffer from anemia. If you do test positive for it, your doctor will put you on a simple iron supplement that will take care of the hair loss.
- Male Pattern Baldness and Heredity
It is said that two in three men will experience hair loss by the age of 60. Most of the time, this is because of male pattern baldness. This kind of hair loss is caused by a combination of male sex hormones and genes, which will typically follow a classic pattern in which hair will start receding at the temple and leave a hairline that is M-shaped.
In women, there also exists something called female pattern baldness. This is also called either androgenetic or androgenic alopecia. However, it isn’t as common as male pattern baldness.
This will typically occur to women who come from a family wherein the women begin to experience hair loss at a particular age. Unlike men, women do not typically suffer from a hairline that recedes. Instead, they will have thinning hair, or their part could widen.
In such cases, it is said that both men and women can benefit greatly from a topical solution such as Minoxidil. These do not require a prescription and can be bought over the counter. They are believed to help stop further hair loss and can even promote new hair growth.
You will often find this medical term, Minoxidil, brought up over and over again in several medical journals, articles, and even in the media. Typically, Minoxidil is often talked about by health care professionals when they have to discuss male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness.
We decided to find out all the important things there is to know about Minoxidil, which includes what it is, how it works, and also the multiple kinds of applications on the market right now, to name a few.
What Is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is basically an antihypertensive vasodilator that could help in reducing or even slowing down the process of hair loss in some men as well as women. In some people, it could potentially stop the hair loss altogether, and for others, it has the ability to promote the formation of healthy and new hair.
Minoxidil recently has been off-patented, which means that it can be bought as an over-the-counter medication in order to treat androgenic or androgenetic alopecia. These are hair loss and hair thinning conditions that are often referred to as male or female pattern baldness.
The Origins of Minoxidil
You would be surprised to know that Minoxidil wasn’t first used to treat baldness and hair loss. In fact, this drug was first used to combat high blood pressure and was first sold under the name, Loniten. It was only upon extensive research that it was found that Loniten had a side effect, which was hair growth.
Due to this, Minoxidil was no longer used to treat high blood pressure as an oral medication, but it was prescribed to both men and women to treat hair loss and other hair-related issues.
Minoxidil is typically sold as a topical solution and is available in 2% and 5% concentrations. In certain countries, for example, such as India, Minoxidil is also sold in a 10% concentration. In Northern America, you will only find 2% and 5% Minoxidil solutions sold under the brand name, Rogaine.
Typically, 2% Minoxidil solutions are used by both men and women. However, 5% and higher concentrations of the medication is only prescribed to men. This is because they contain much more patent properties, and hence, have adverse side effects for women. In Europe and Asia, you will find this product sold under the brand names, Regaine and Mintop.
Different Forms of Minoxidil
The dropper application is the most traditional and commonly used form of Minoxidil. Other than the dropper, there are newer forms of application that this drug comes in as well. These include:
Minoxidil sprays are fairly new to the market. This is a simpler way to use this medication since all you need to do is spray on the topical solution onto the affected area of the scalp. This form of Minoxidil application is much cleaner as well. It definitely reduces the amount of solution that gets wasted in comparison to a dropper.
To spread the solution a little more evenly all over the head, you can try pulling back your hair that is abundant and thick so that the solution can successfully reach into the scalp and also the hair follicles that are adjoining.
Another kind of Minoxidil application is via foam. This is much newer than the previous two. To use this, you will need to take a considerable amount of foam onto your hand and then directly apply it onto your scalp. Begin by massaging it in first with your fingertips.
The traditional dropper is considered to be one of the most common forms of Minoxidil’s application, and it makes application extremely easy. While this is the most traditional form of applying Minoxidil on the scalp, most people still prefer this. For this reason, we will give you a step-by-step guide to applying Minoxidil using a dropper application.
How to Use Minoxidil: Dropper Application
- Before you even begin, make sure you read all the directions on the package before you use this product. If you feel you aren’t sure at any point, then consult your pharmacist or your doctor.
- Start by cleaning the scalp and make sure it is dry. Take the dropper application and fill it with about one milliliter of solution. Typically, all droppers will have a one-milliliter line to make things easy for you.
- Now, part your hair, especially around the area where there is maximum thinning. Apply the minoxidil solution properly and evenly to the scalp’s affected area and gently massage and rub it in using your fingertips.
- Use this solution twice a day and wait for the solution to dry fully before you apply any of your styling products. Make sure you do this at least six months to a year in order to see positive results.
It is essential that before you use Minoxidil, you consult with your doctor or your pharmacist to know whether you are allergic to any of the ingredients used in the solution. Furthermore, this solution may also contain multiple other inactive ingredients, which could potentially cause some allergic reactions or even some other problems.
Make sure you find out all the details from the doctor or your pharmacist. This is especially important if you suffer from the following: diseases of the scalp such as infections, cuts, and eczema; heart diseases such as heart attack, chest pain, or heart failure; kidney diseases; and liver disease.
If you are consuming medications for any of the above ailments, then ensure you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you use this solution. There could be a possibility that these medications could have an interaction with the Minoxidil solution. Ensure you never start or stop any medication without prior approval from the doctor.
For women who are pregnant, this product should only be used if advised by the doctors. While there isn’t adequate research done whether the ingredients in the solution get passed down to the breast milk, we would highly recommend to steer clear of this product even if just for a year or two after pregnancy.
Store the Minoxidil solution at room temperature between 67 and 77 degrees F. It should also be away from sunlight and moisture. Make sure that the solution is out of reach of pets and children. Minoxidil solution is flammable, so keep it as far away from fire or even open flame until the solution has dried off completely.
If the product is expired and you need to get rid of it, do not flush it down the drain or the toilet. Make sure you properly discard the product. To know how to get rid of the solution appropriately, get in touch with your pharmacist or your local waste disposal company.
Stinging, redness, or burning at the site of application could possibly occur. If you feel you have any of these side effects, or they get worsened, then contact your pharmacist or your doctor as quickly as possible.
If your doctor has advised you to use this solution, it is important to note that the doctor has judged appropriately that the solution’s benefits are significantly greater than all of its possible side effects. That being said, it is rare that people who have used this medication have had a serious side effect.
It is also rare that this solution could be absorbed by the skin, which could cause some side effects. If you feel that that did occur, then immediately stop using the solution and get in touch with your doctor.
Some rare but serious allergic reactions of this product may include growth of unwanted body or facial hair, fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, chest pain, fainting, swelling of the hands and/or feet, unusual weight gain, difficulty breathing, and tiredness. As mentioned earlier, these are extremely serious side effects of the solution, and it is unlikely for them to occur. If it does occur, then get medical help quickly.
If you are in the United States, you can report these side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or at 1-800-FDA-1088. If you are in Canada and experience any side effects, you can report them to the Health Canada at their phone number, 1-866-234-2345.
What to Do In Case of an Overdose
This solution can be fatal if it is swallowed. If you know someone who has swallowed it and has overdosed on it or facing a serious symptom such as difficulty in breathing or passing out, then immediately call 911. Else you can get in touch with the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. On the other hand, Canadian residents can get in touch with a provincial poison control center. Some symptoms of overdose could possibly include drowsiness, fainting, flushing, and dizziness.
There are often these questions that are frequently asked by everyone about Minoxidil. So, we decided to list the top FAQ’s and answer them for you to make things easier.
Q: There are different concentrations of Minoxidil, such as 2%, 5%, and 10%. Is the highest one always better?
A: Products that have a concentration of 5% and above have shown far better results in studies. That being said, this only applies to men. If you are a woman, you can only use the 2% solution as anything higher than that can be harmful to you.
Q: There are different kinds of Minoxidil application such as a dropper, foam, and spray. Does any one of them work better than the other?
A: There is no evidence that supports the claim that any one of the applications works better than other. That being said, there has been some evidence that has suggested that the foam application is a little less irritating to the scalp. The biggest difference between the three is the cosmetic result after each of their use.
Q: Do I have to use the Minoxidil solution at least twice a day?
A: You will notice that several Minoxidil manufacturers claim that using the solution twice a day shows better results. This is true only for the 2% and 5% concentration solution. As these are not as strong, and in order for it to show results within six to eight months, using them twice a day is essential. However, if you use minoxidil 10%, then you only need to use it once a day.
Q: What is the most common side effect of using the Minoxidil solution?
A: While it is rare to have a side effect from this solution, there have been cases that have shown people developing an irritated or an itchy scalp when used regularly. Another side effect that could be common would be the growth of facial hair.
Q: How can I know whether the solution is doing any good to me?
A: A good way to know whether this solution is working for you is to look out for any signs of hair growth, possibly after two to three weeks of regular use. It goes without saying that if you see new hair follicles coming along in the front of your hairline or even on the top and the vertex of your scalp, it is an excellent sign.
New hair growth will typically occur only after four to six months of regular use. When these new hairs come out, they will appear to be down and soft. However, after using the solution further and regularly, your hair will become the exact same consistency as all the other hairs present on your scalp.
It has been found that the fastest people have seen results with the Minoxidil solution is a little over two months. However, that is rare. Everyone will respond differently to the solution, and their results will vary.
Q: Can Minoxidil solution be used for beard growth?
A: The fact is that there have not been many clinical trials done to know whether Minoxidil can be used on a man’s face. However, it does not mean that you cannot try it out. Men with lack of beard growth have been using Minoxidil on their beard. While the results may vary, the 5% concentration is safe to use.
The Pros and Cons of Minoxidil
Commonly known as Rogaine in the United States, Minoxidil solution has been used by men and women for decades now as it is believed to help hair loss issues. The solution is available easily over the counter and is known to promote hair growth. However, the question still arises that if this does work so effectively, why do people still opt for expensive hair transplants?
Hence, we decided to do the pros and cons of this medication to see whether it is a viable option.
What We Like About It
- Easy to get
One of the biggest pros of using this medication is how easy it is to get. While it is recommended to visit a doctor before buying it, you don’t necessarily have to as there is no need for a prescription to purchase some.
This advantage can also be a disadvantage to a certain extent as it keeps the patient from visiting the doctor. Minoxidil does an excellent job to help treat hair loss, but before using this product, it is essential that you find out the actual cause of your hair loss. In some cases, you may not even need Minoxidil to treat the issue.
- Easy to use
Minoxidil is quite easy to use. It is available in different types of applications, and each of them is quite simple to do. All you need to do is get into the habit of using this medication at least twice a day for six to eight months. The application process is in no way too precise or even demanding.
- Boosts hair restoration
People who opt to do hair transplant surgery also choose to use Minoxidil solution to boost the result of hair restoration further. That being said, it is always good to speak to your doctor first before you do it.
Remember that Minoxidil was first marketed as a drug that would help patients with high blood pressure. Using this solution right after your surgery could possibly cause a dip in your blood pressure, which may result in dizziness.
What We Don’t Like About It
- You have to be consistent
In order to see the results and for this medication to work well, it is highly essential to use it as consistently as possible. This solution will only work if you apply it the way it has been directed on the package, which means that you have to do it twice a day, every single day for a minimum of six to eight months.
If you aren’t consistent with the solution, any new hair that came out because of this medication will cease to grow and will fall out.
- Not effective for people with advanced hair loss
Minoxidil solution tends to be more effective if it is used by people who are under the age of 30. It is also typically more effective if it has been only a few years since you have started losing your hair. If you have an area that is entirely bald, it is unlikely for Minoxidil to work on it.
That being said, it is still recommended to use Minoxidil. The treatment works differently for different patients, after all. So, there is a possibility for the solution to actually work for you.
- Concerns for women
While the FDA has approved 2% of the Minoxidil solution to be used by women for hair loss, they didn’t approve anything higher than that. There are multiple reasons why women can only use the 2% solution.
For starters, the 5% solution tends to contain ingredients that are stronger and could possibly trigger an allergic reaction or skin irritation. Furthermore, this strong concentration could potentially put women at an elevated risk of low blood pressure, which could cause fainting or dizziness or even hypotension.
The other reason why the 5% and above concentration isn’t safe for women is that it could cause hair growth that is unwanted. The medication can easily migrate from the scalp to the face, and if the solution is left on the face, it could potentially cause hair to grow in that area.
In conclusion, Minoxidil is a brilliant alternative to those expensive hair transplant surgeries. While how well it may actually work for you entirely depends on many factors, it will definitely make even a little difference if used as directed.
If you are young and male or female pattern baldness runs in your family, then we highly recommend you start using this solution right away to show results as quickly as possible and more effectively!