It’s completely normal to lose some hair every day — with most people shedding anywhere between 50 and 100. However, some people can lose more than this and begin to experience male or female pattern hair loss.
Hair loss treatments have improved in recent years with hair transplants becoming a celebrity favourite. But there are less invasive treatments out there such as medications like minoxidil.
This blog post is going to review minoxidil and explain if and how it works. Learn all this and more with reviews.healthcare.
What is minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a medication that is commonly used to treat hair loss. It is available in various forms, such as foams, solutions and sprays, and is applied directly to the scalp. Minoxidil is believed to work by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles, which may stimulate hair growth in people experiencing hair thinning or loss.
Minoxidil was initially developed as an oral medication to treat high blood pressure. However, during clinical trials, it was discovered that one of the side effects was increased hair growth. This led to the development of topical minoxidil specifically for the treatment of hair loss.
In the UK, minoxidil is available without a prescription — which means you can easily access the medication from your local pharmacy.
How does minoxidil work?
Minoxidil is thought to dilate the blood vessels in the scalp, which may increase blood flow to the hair follicles. This increased blood flow can deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles, potentially promoting hair growth. Additionally, minoxidil may also stimulate the hair follicles directly, leading to an increase in hair thickness and length.
Minoxidil is believed to work best on people with a genetic predisposition to hair loss, particularly in androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern hair loss. It is important to note that minoxidil’s exact way of working is not fully understood and may vary from person to person.
Minoxidil is typically applied topically to the affected areas of the scalp and should be used as directed or according to the product label. It may take several months of consistent use to see noticeable results, and it’s important to continue using minoxidil as recommended to maintain the benefits.
How to use minoxidil
Minoxidil comes in the form of a topical solution and as a tablet — so how you use it will depend on this factor.
When using minoxidil as a topical solution, it’s important to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider or as indicated on the product label.
Here is a common way that a topical solution of minoxidil can be used.
- Clean and dry the scalp — Before applying minoxidil, ensure that your scalp is clean and dry. Use a mild shampoo to cleanse your scalp thoroughly and pat it dry with a towel.
- Apply the recommended amount — Measure the recommended amount of minoxidil solution using the applicator provided. Typically, this is about 1 ml or 20 drops, but it can vary depending on the concentration of the minoxidil solution.
- Part the hair — Part your hair in the areas where you want to apply minoxidil. This can be done using your fingers or a comb to expose the scalp.
- Apply minoxidil to the scalp — Using the applicator, apply the minoxidil solution directly to the exposed areas of the scalp. Gently massage it into the scalp to ensure even distribution.
- Let it dry — Allow the minoxidil solution to dry naturally without rinsing it off. Avoid using a hairdryer or other heat sources to speed up the drying process, as this may cause irritation.
- Wash your hands — After applying minoxidil, wash your hands thoroughly to remove any residue and prevent accidental contact with other parts of your body.
- Avoid hair styling products — Avoid using hair styling products, such as gels or mousse immediately after applying minoxidil, as they may interfere with its absorption.
- Use as directed — Minoxidil is typically applied twice daily unless otherwise instructed. It’s important to use it consistently and as directed for the best results.
Minoxidil isn’t just available as a topical medication. Tablets are now available and they can be more convenient for some people.
However, you have to make sure that you take the exact dosage of oral minoxidil tablets as recommended. Do not exceed the recommended dosage or change the dosing schedule without consulting your healthcare provider. Always swallow the oral minoxidil tablets whole with a full glass of water. Do not crush, chew, or break the tablets, as this may alter their effectiveness.
You also need to take oral minoxidil tablets according to the dosing schedule. It’s important to take them according to the instructions to ensure optimal effectiveness.
Minoxidil side effects
Like all medications, minoxidil has some side effects whether you use it topically or orally.
Some potential side effects of minoxidil include:
- Itching or rashes
- Facial hair growth
- Inflammation of the scalp
- Red skin
- Facial swelling
These side effects can be more common but they aren’t life-threatening.
However, there are more serious side effects such as:
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Changes to your heartbeat
- Numbness in the hands, feet or face
- Rapid weight gain
These symptoms need to be reported to a medical professional immediately as they could indicate that too much minoxidil is being absorbed into the body.
How effective is minoxidil?
Minoxidil is considered an effective hair loss treatment as studies have shown that it can stimulate the hair follicles leading to increased growth.
One study, in particular, showed that 48% of the male participants found minoxidil to be effective at helping them to regrow their hair. This statistic doesn’t include the 16% who found it very effective and the 21% who found it to be moderately effective. This makes it an overwhelming majority of the participants that saw results.
Only 16% of the participants found it ineffective — showcasing that it can help the majority of people to regrow their hair. It’s worth remembering that not all medications work for everyone, so you might be like the 16% who didn’t see results. It all depends on how your body reacts to minoxidil.
How long does minoxidil take to work?
Losing your hair can knock your confidence — but minoxidil could be the solution to your problem. However, while there are great results for the majority of people, you may not get your desired results immediately.
If you’re noticing that your hair isn’t as thick as before, then be sure to consult with your doctor as they may advise that you begin minoxidil or a stronger medication to help. The journey to hair regrowth takes time and patience, so speak with your doctor about what method will work best for you.