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Minoxidil for Hair Loss

Minoxidil was initially developed as an antihypertensive agent to treat high blood pressure. Still, it attracted interest as a potential hair loss treatment when patients receiving this drug developed generalised hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth on the body).

This observation led to its topical formulation, which has become the first-line treatment of male and female pattern hair loss. Dr Bonaros offers private prescriptions on oral minoxidil after a consultation at his private hair transplant clinic in Glasgow.

How Minoxidil Works

Minoxidil’s exact mechanism of action is unknown. However, minoxidil solution applied to the scalp can slow and reverse both male and female pattern baldness in several ways:

  • Reverses follicle miniaturisation
  • Enhances blood flow around the hair follicles
  • Stimulates follicle movement to the growth phase
  • Minoxidil prolongs the anagen phase of the hair follicle 

According to other hypotheses, minoxidil may also have proliferative, anti-androgenic, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Minoxidil as a Hair Loss Treatment

women hair loss

Topical Minoxidil Dosage

In men, the recommended dosage for minoxidil is 1 ml twice daily for the 5 % solution. The dosage for minoxidil 5 % foam is half a capful twice daily. For women, the recommended dosage is 1 ml of 2 % minoxidil solution twice daily or half a capful of the 5 % foam formulation once a day.

Both formulations should be applied on a dry scalp and left in place for at least four hours. Massaging the solution into the scalp is not needed. It is advisable to apply the minoxidil two hours before bed to allow adequate time for drying and avoid it spreading on the face during sleep.

Some patients notice a transitory increase in hair shedding at the beginning of this hair loss treatment. However, this is just a sign of minoxidil efficacy. It indicates that telogen follicles are re-entering the anagen phase. It usually lasts for a few weeks. Patients should be treated for at least six months before being assessed by a hair restoration physician and treatment should be prolonged indefinitely to maintain efficacy.

Minoxidil Results

Several meta-analysis studies have confirmed the high quality of evidence for using minoxidil to treat androgenetic alopecia (AGA)  in both men and women. Despite minoxidil’s effectiveness in hair growth, it doesn’t work for everyone and every type of hair loss.

In one study, dermatologists evaluated the effectiveness of minoxidil 5% topical solution in 984 men with hereditary hair loss. After one year, they reported that hair loss areas of the scalp had become smaller in 62% of the patients, unchanged in 35.1%, and more significant in 2.9%.

Regarding minoxidil’s effectiveness in stimulating hair regrowth, the investigators found it very effective in 15.9% of patients, effective in 47.8%, moderately effective in 20.6%, and ineffective in 15.7%

minoxidil before and after use in the crown
Our patient achieved great results after using minoxidil consistently for 9 months.

Topical Minoxidil Side Effects

The most common adverse effects of minoxidil include scalp dryness, contact dermatitis, and unwanted hair growth on the face (facial hypertrichosis).

Minoxidil solution containing propylene glycol can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction. Patients may switch to the minoxidil topical foam formulation in case of skin irritation as it does not contain propylene glycol.

Hypertrichosis is reported more frequently in women than in men. Still, it is unclear whether this occurs because it is genuinely more common or just more noticeable. It usually resolves 1–3 months after drug discontinuation.

Minoxidil is not advised for women who are pregnant. Since minoxidil is excreted into breast milk in very low concentrations and no adverse effects have been reported in infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics considers topical minoxidil in lactation to pose little to no threat.

Minoxidil discontinuation will cause acute hair shedding after 3–4 months.

To find out more about before and after minoxidil treatment successes, contact Dr Bonaros and book a consultation.

Oral Minoxidil for Hair Loss in Men & Women

Oral minoxidil is minoxidil in tablet form and is not officially approved to treat male pattern baldness, so its use is off-label. The results of small studies have shown positive results and no inferiority to topical minoxidil.

Oral minoxidil can be considered as an alternative treatment in healthy men and women who cannot tolerate or comply with topical minoxidil. It is also considered for men experiencing hair loss who are concerned about or have already experienced sexual side effects from finasteride medication.

For men, the dosage ranges from 1.25 to 5mg. The minoxidil dose for female hair loss is lower and ranges from 0,25 to 2.5 mg daily. Adverse effects from taking minoxidil include hypertrichosis, lower limb oedema, postural hypotension, tachycardia, and shedding.

Topical minoxidil solution is the mainstay treatment for androgenic alopecia.

Ready to restore your hair with a minoxidil treatment from a trusted hair loss treatment specialist in Scotland? Schedule a free Zoom consultation to discuss your next steps with Dr Bonaros, Scotland’s only full member of the ISHRS.

Minoxidil for Hair Growth - Frequently Asked Questions

Minoxidil for men

Where can I get minoxidil?

Minoxidil is the generic name given to the active ingredient found in products that stimulate hair growth such as Rogaine. Topical hair loss products containing minoxidil such as an alopecia topical solution can be bought as over-the-counter medication without a prescription.

Oral minoxidil can only be purchased with a consultation and prescription, and both should only be used under the guidance and instructions of a trained doctor.

Dr Bonaros provides private prescriptions for oral minoxidil. Book a consultation online today — at our clinic in Glasgow or over Zoom (Free consultation).

What to avoid when using Minoxidil to treat hair loss?

Using other skin products on the same skin area that is undergoing minoxidil treatment should be avoided. Perming, relaxing, and colouring the hair is safe during a minoxidil hair treatment as long as you ensure your scalp is washed just before you apply the products. You should not use minoxidil 24 hours before or after your hair treatment procedure.

Can minoxidil topical be used on other parts of the body?

Minoxidil topical solution for hair loss should only be used on the scalp in the exact amount prescribed by your doctor. Using a higher concentration of minoxidil foam or cream, using it too often, or using it on other parts of the body increase the chances of it being absorbed through the skin and affecting your heart and blood vessels with unwanted effects.

How long does minoxidil take to work?

For some, minoxidil hair regrowth results have appeared in as little as eight weeks following a regular dosing schedule, while others might have to wait up to 16 weeks to start seeing results.

During the first six weeks of use, you may still experience thinning hair and hair loss, but this should subside. If after four months you are still seeing hair shedding, there may be a separate underlying medical problem. Minoxidil results after 1 year differ for everyone but will usually include noticeable hair growth.

If you decide to stop treatment, any positive effects the minoxidil treatment had will be reversed as your hair growth returns to its normal cycle.

Can minoxidil treat all parts of the scalp?

Most studies on minoxidil have been focused on the crown, but recent studies have shown positive results that minoxidil may be just as effective in treating hair loss along the hairline.

What are the side effects of minoxidil hair loss treatments?

While minoxidil offers the positive effect of stimulating new hair growth, it may also cause some unwanted side effects, such as swelling of the face, reddened skin, rapid weight gain, fainting, continuous itching, or a skin rash.

Please note that not all minoxidil side effects for women and men are mentioned above, so you should contact a medical professional if there are any adverse reactions after beginning the treatment.

Considering crown and hairline hair restoration using minoxidil and want to speak to a professional? Book an appointment at our clinic to find out how we can help.

Dr Bonaros: Trusted Hair Loss & Restoration Specialist, UK

If you are looking into hair restoration solutions, contact our state of the art hair transplant clinic in Glasgow, which is led by Dr Bonaros, a highly experienced and trained hair transplant surgeon & hair loss specialist in Scotland.

As a full member of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS) and Scotland’s only full member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), Dr Bonaros is one of the most qualified hair restoration experts in the UK.

Using a patient-centred approach, Dr Bonaros can assess your case, perform a reliable diagnosis, and provide you with a realistic and comprehensive treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs. He will also monitor the effectiveness of the medical therapy clinically and suggest other treatments, such as medical and surgical options to augment the benefits of minoxidil.

Ready to try minoxidil for hair loss? Book an appointment with Dr Epameinondas Bonaros to start your hair restoration journey. You can also fill out our online assessment form and get advice directly into your inbox.