Minoxidil for hair loss: benefits, dosage, and risks

Ismail Yusibov
Ismail Yusibov is the founder and content writer of the AlopeciaTips.

 Fact checked by Jessica Anderson

Written by Ismail Yusibov | Reviewed by Dr. Michael Carter


Some dermatologists recommend Minoxidil (Regaine) for male pattern baldness – but does Minoxidil really stop hair loss?


FAST FACTS

Minoxidil is a licensed medication for hair loss in both men and women.

Studies show that Minoxidil is effective in slowing or stopping hair loss in men.

Minoxidil reduces the duration of the resting phase of the hair growth cycle (telogen) and promotes the transition to the growth phase (anagen).

Minoxidil does not address the underlying cause of male pattern baldness related to DHT hormone activity.

You can typically expect visible results within 2-4 months of consistent use.

Potential side effects of Minoxidil include skin irritation, dizziness, swelling, and rapid weight gain.

You don’t need a prescription to buy and use minoxidil.

What is minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a licensed medication used to treat hair loss for men and women. Minoxidil does not require a prescription and is available at most pharmacies. Minoxidil is sold in most pharmacies as the Regaine branded version.

Minoxidil continues to be used for male pattern baldness in men. Many studies have demonstrated the effective role of Minoxidil in male pattern hair loss. One study reported that 60% of men using Minoxidil slowed or stopped their hair loss.

How does minoxidil work?

The drug Minoxidil has been proven to stop hair loss in men and women.

In a 48-week study, hair regrowth was observed in 60% of men using Minoxidil. Hair loss stopped or reversed in 88% of women using minoxidil.

Minoxidil’s efficacy becomes apparent with consistent and continued use. It operates by reducing the telogen (resting phase) duration within the hair growth cycle and facilitating the transition of hair into the anagen phase of development.

The paramount point to comprehend about Minoxidil is that it exclusively supports hair growth during its application. Discontinuation of Minoxidil results in a cessation of hair growth.

This limitation stems from Minoxidil’s inability to address the underlying cause of male pattern baldness, which is attributed to the activity of the DHT hormone leading to hair follicle shrinkage. Minoxidil exerts no influence on this hormone.

Without a comprehensive remedy for damaged hair follicles, a lasting solution remains elusive, and the condition may potentially deteriorate further.

Minoxidil’s efficacy varies among individuals and is not universally effective. It is most beneficial for men aged 18 to 65 who meet the following criteria:

  • Those experiencing hair loss or thinning exclusively on the upper portion of the scalp.
  • Younger individuals.
  • Those who have been dealing with hair loss for a relatively brief duration.
  • Individuals with mild hair loss.

What are the benefits of using minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a simple way to stop hair loss. It won’t disrupt your daily routine, and you can apply it by yourself.

Here are some other benefits of minoxidil:

  • It makes hair loss slow down.
  • It tells hair roots to make new hair.
  • Doctors have shown that it works in about 4 months for women and 2-4 months for men.
  • It makes the time when hair grows (anagen phase) longer.
  • It makes blood flow better in small blood tubes.
  • It gives you thicker hair.

Using Minoxidil for Hair Loss

Minoxidile is most commonly used in cases of hair loss. While Minoxidile in tablet (oral) form is taken as a daily routine, the use of spray or Topical Minoxidile is different.

If you’re using Guanethidine, don’t use Minoxidil.

Also, don’t mix Minoxidil with other scalp medicines.

How do you use minoxidil for hair loss?

Oral Minoxidil can be used before, during or after a meal. Minoxidile should be used at the same time every day. Your doctor will decide how many doses of Minoxidil to use depending on your level of hair loss.

For topical Minoxidil, put it on the area with hair loss. Use 5 sprays (1 ml) two times a day, in the morning and evening.

Tips for using Minoxidil:

  • Only use Minoxidil on your dry hair and scalp.
  • If it gets on other skin, wash it off with lots of water.
  • Don’t use Minoxidil 24 hours before doing things like dyeing or perming your hair.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after applying before using hair spray, gel, shampoo, or similar products with chemicals.
  • If you use sunscreen, wait at least 4 hours after applying Minoxidil to use it because sunscreen might make Minoxidil less effective.
  • Keep using it as your doctor says. Minoxidil works best when used for a long time.
  • It might take 4 to 6 months of using it regularly to see hair growth, and it works best after 12 months.
  • Remember to take your medicine on time.
  • Follow these instructions unless your doctor tells you differently.

How to use spray Minoxidil:

  • Spray Minoxidil on the spot where your hair is thinning, and then rub it in gently using your fingers.
  • Do this five times, and after that, make sure to wash your hands completely.
  • Don’t use more than five sprays (equal to 1 ml), even if the area is big.
  • Each bottle of Minoxidil is enough for one month.
  • Remember, Spray Minoxidil is meant for external use only. Don’t swallow, drink, or inhale it.

Who is a good candidate for minoxidil?

The optimal candidates for minoxidil usage are males in the early stages of hair loss, particularly when the upper region of the scalp is impacted by hair loss. Individuals who are in good health and fall within the age bracket of 18 to 40 are suitable candidates for the use of Minoxidil.

Conversely, individuals under the age of 18 and those aged 65 or older should refrain from using Minoxidil.

It is imperative to note that individuals with liver or kidney conditions should exercise caution and seek professional medical advice prior to commencing Minoxidil use. This is because the metabolism and renal elimination of the drug may be affected in such cases.

How long does it take Minoxidil (Regaine) to work?

Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine), starts to show results in about 3-6 months. You’ll notice hair growth after using Minoxidil consistently for a year. Many people continue using Minoxidil for several years.

During the initial 2 months of using Minoxidil, you might experience more hair shedding. But don’t worry, this is just your old, weaker hair falling out to make way for new, stronger hair to grow in its place.

Who gets the best results from Rogaine?

Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) works best when used consistently over a long period. If you don’t experience any major side effects, it’s a good idea to use Minoxidil for at least 12 months.

If you plan to get a hair transplant, you should stop using Minoxidil one week before the procedure. After two weeks, you can start using it again. This helps prevent hair loss and promotes faster growth of your new hair.

What happens if I miss a dose of Minoxidil?

If you miss a dose of minoxidil, never take a double dose. In such a case, continue Minoxidil the next day.

If you have used more minoxidil than you should, talk to a doctor or pharmacist.

What should I avoid while taking Minoxidil?

  • You should not use shampoo within 5 hours after using minoxidil.
  • You should not use any hair products on your head at the same time as Minoxidil.
  • Do not use hair dye, permanent or relaxing hair dyes or any chemicals together with minoxidil.

Where can you get minoxidil?

You can find Minoxidil at any pharmacy. If you do not want to go to the pharmacy, you can purchase Minoxidil from many online pharmacies.

Do you need a prescription for minoxidil?

You don’t need a prescription to buy minoxidil. You can buy minoxidil without a prescription from pharmacies and online sellers.

Oral Minoxidil

Oral Minoxidil is in pill form and is a drug that has been proven to significantly stop hair loss in users.

Minoxidil, used regularly in low doses, helps increase body hair growth, thickening and pigmentation. Studies have shown that hair loss stopped in 80% of patients using Minoxidil and hypertrichosis, that is, increased body hair, was observed.

What is oral minoxidil, and is it safe?

Oral minoxidil causes hair growth in all parts of the body. Dr. Wassef also noted that Minoxidil caused leg swelling.

Minoxidil, like every drug, has side effects. Mild skin irritations are the most common of these side effects.

Minoxidil also should not be used by hypertonic or heart patients because it causes increased blood pressure.

Other known side effects of Minoxidil according to Mayo:

  • Acne at site of application
  • Burning of scalp
  • Facial hair growth
  • Increased hair loss
  • Inflammation or soreness at the root of hair
  • Reddened skin
  • Swelling of face
  • Blurred vision or other changes in vision
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Flushing
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Numbness or tingling of hands, feet, or face
  • Swelling of face, hands, feet, or lower legs
  • Weight gain (rapid)

How effective is oral minoxidil?

Oral minoxidil is an effective solution for hair regrowth. Studies have shown that men who use oral Minoxidil for at least 6 months see improvements in hair growth.

In another study, 30 men suffering from androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) used minoxidil pills. All men experienced hair regrowth and recovery. 43% of the men participating in the study described the effectiveness of minoxidil as “excellent”.

Another study with more than 50 participants proved that minoxidil has an effective therapeutic role in female pattern hair loss.

Oral vs topical minoxidil

It has not been scientifically researched whether oral or topical minoxidil gives better results in hair loss. Research shows that both types of Minoxidil use have the same effect. However, many dermatologists prioritize recommending topical minoxidil in cases of hair loss.

Despite this, a group of dermatologists prioritize recommending oral minoxidil because it does not cause side effects such as scalp irritation, burning and redness.

In this regard, you can decide for yourself whether to use both types of minoxidil. If your scalp is allergenic and sensitive, you may consider using oral minoxidil.

Doses of oral Minoxidil

The dosage of Minoxidil for hair loss is decided by your doctor after an examination of your scalp and hair.

Generally, dermatologists determine the starting dose of Minoxidil during hair loss as 1.25 mg. However, depending on the level of hair loss, the dose may range from 0.625 mg to 3 mg

When Minoxidil should be avoided?

Minoxidil is dangerous for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women do not use Minoxidil.

Scalp irritation is one of the most common side effects of Minoxidil use. You may need to avoid using minoxidil on days when you dye your hair or have a chemical treatment (for example, a perm).

Liver, kidney, heart patients and those with high blood pressure should never use Minoxidil.

Does Minoxidil cure hair loss for good?

Minoxidil is not a permanent cure for baldness. When you stop using minoxidil, you will experience hair loss again. If you are using Minoxidil and considering stopping, you should know that you will lose hair faster than before when you stop the medication.

Does minoxidil cause weight gain?

One of the side effects of minoxidil is weight gain. Oral minoxidil treatment causes edema, weight gain, pulmonary edema and antihypertensive effect.

Since Minoxidil causes a decrease in kidney perfusion, it will cause the renin-angiotensin system to increase the amount of sodium reabsorption, thus causing the patient using Minoxidil to gain weight. Therefore, only the recommended amount of Minoxidil should be used.

Does minoxidil cause dandruff?

Yes, because Minoxidil contains alcohol, it dries your scalp and causes dandruff.

How long to leave minoxidil on scalp before washing?

If you use Minoxidil, your hair should not come into contact with shampoo for 4 hours after applying Minoxidil. Otherwise, allergic reactions may occur and Minoxidil may cause undesirable results on your scalp.

Can I use minoxidil and rosemary oil together?

You should not use minoxidil with any chemicals or natural oils that may come into contact with your scalp. Rosemary oil, in particular, has the ability to irritate the skin and should not be used with any other topical medications.

Can minoxidil revive dead follicles?

Minoxidil does not revive dead hair follicles. There is no scientific evidence on this subject.

Minoxidil is both an MHRA licensed and FDA approved drug. Minoxidil stops hair loss and promotes hair growth. It is often used together with an oral DHT blocker (for example, Finasteride).

Minoxidil is not a DHT blocker per se and does not revive dead hair follicles during male pattern baldness. Minoxidil is just a stimulant that stimulates your scalp.

Can you put minoxidil on wet hair?

You should apply minoxidil to dry hair. Applying minoxidil to wet hair will not do any good. Wet hair dilutes the Minoxidil solution and reduces its effectiveness to zero. Hair should be dry or dried before using minoxidil.

How long does it take for minoxidil to absorb?

The absorption of minoxidil into the scalp commences approximately five minutes following its application. Upon applying minoxidil to your scalp, your hair will become damp. It is advisable not to shampoo your hair until this dampness has completely dissipated.

Ideally, minoxidil should be allowed to remain on the scalp for a duration of eight hours. Approximately 75% of the minoxidil solution is absorbed by the scalp after four hours of use.

How to get rid of facial hair caused by minoxidil?

The use of oral minoxidil causes hair growth on all parts of the body. You can get rid of unwanted facial hair by shaving, tweezing, waxing, depilatory creams and epilation. Laser hair removal is recommended for long-lasting results.

Which shampoo to use after minoxidil?

If you use Minoxidil, you should wash your hair at least 4 hours after using Minoxidil every day. You can wash your hair with any mild shampoo after using minoxidil. You should stay away from harsh shampoos. Ketoconazole is one of the best shampoos that can be used together with Minoxidil.

Can minoxidil cause cancer?

Minoxidil is carcinogenic. It is likely to sustain DNA damage and has mutagenic potential. If you have any chronic disease, stay away from Minoxidil. Heart patients, kidney patients, hypertension patients, women and breastfeeding women cannot use Minoxidil.

Do you have to keep using minoxidil?

In cases of male pattern baldness, men using Minoxidil should not stop taking the drug. When the patient stops using Minoxidil, hair loss continues to be more severe than before.

Does minoxidil make hair thicker?

Minoxidil makes hair look thicker in men. This is because Minoxidil dilates blood vessels and feeds the hair follicles with oxygen.

Minoxidil for beard growth

There are no studies proving that minoxidil is effective for beard growth. Although there is no scientific evidence, the vast majority of men who use topical Minoxidil for beard growth have seen positive results.

It is believed that applying topical minoxidil twice a day, especially for 12-16 weeks, increases the number of facial hairs.

Significant improvements in beard hair count were also found after applying topical 3% minoxidil twice daily for 16 weeks.

Potential Side Effects and Concerns

In this article, I’ve mentioned several times that Minoxidil, just like any other medication, can have side effects. If you’re thinking about using Minoxidil, it’s important to be aware of these potential side effects:

  • New or worsened chest pain.
  • Chest pain that spreads to your jaw or shoulder.
  • Fast or strong heartbeats.
  • Swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
  • Gaining weight quickly, especially in your face and belly.
  • Having trouble breathing or feeling out of breath.
  • Feeling dizzy, like you might faint.
  • Fluid collecting in your lungs, which might cause pain when you breathe, breathlessness when lying down, wheezing, struggling to breathe, a cough with foamy mucus.
  • A severe skin reaction, such as a high fever, a sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads, especially on your face or upper body, leading to blistering and peeling.

Does minoxidil cause erectile dysfunction?

Minoxidil side effects include causing erectile dysfunction. This side effect of minoxidil has been seen in only 4 people so far.

If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction due to Minoxidil use, stopping the medication will reverse this side effect.

Minoxidil alternatives

Many people may turn to alternative medications due to the side effects of Minoxidil. The most commonly used drugs as alternatives to Minoxidil include Finasteride, Nanoxidil and Trioxidil. However, the way of use and purpose of each drug is different.

Finasteride vs Minoxidil 

Finasteride is a DHT blocker frequently used in hair loss and male pattern baldness treatments. It is effective in stopping and reversing male pattern baldness. Finasteride stops the body from converting its testosterone to DHT and prevents hair loss.

Finasteride is a DHT blocker used in hair loss and male pattern baldness treatments. It is effective in stopping and reversing male pattern baldness. 

Finasteride stops the body from converting its testosterone to DHT and prevents hair loss.

Unlike Minoxidil, Finasteride can completely stop hair loss with long use. Minoxidil prevents hair loss only during the period of use. When you stop using minoxidil, you will continue to lose your hair again.

In this context, Finasteride is a DHT blocker, while Minoxidil is a vasodilator. Minoxidil dilates blood vessels and strengthens hair follicles by providing more oxygen to the follicles.

Finasteride helps stop hair loss and grows new hair by blocking DHT.

You can use Finasteride and Minoxidil at the same time during hair loss treatment. Using both products leads to a synergistic effect. Male androgenetic alopecia is treatable with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil therapy.

A 2015 randomized, comparative study found that “the combination drug showed the best efficacy.”

Compared to Minoxidil, Finasteride has more side effects. Therefore, Finasteride is a drug that requires a prescription and can only be used under the supervision of a doctor.

Minoxidil Foam vs Liquid 

You can find minoxidil pill, liquid and foam versions. All three types of minoxidil are effective in promoting hair growth.

Foam versions of minoxidil are a good choice for those who experience problems such as scalp irritation, redness, itching and dandruff and are looking for an alternative to the liquid version.

There is no difference in effect between the foam version and the liquid version of minoxidil. All versions of the drug have the same effect.

Oral vs Topical Minoxidil 

You can obtain minoxidil in both oral (pill form) and topical (liquid) form. Both versions of the drug are effective in hair growth.

According to many dermatologists, the topical version of Minoxidil is more effective than the oral version. This is because topical minoxidil is applied directly to the scalp and is quickly absorbed by the skin.

While oral minoxidil has more side effects than topical minoxidil, topical minoxidil only has side effects such as scalp irritation and itching.

If your scalp does not show any allergenic reactions to topical minoxidil, using topical minoxidil is a better choice.

Rosemary oil vs Minoxidil 

Rosemary oil increases blood circulation in the scalp and helps heal hair. Additionally, rosemary oil inhibits the activity of 5-alpha reductase by 95%. In this regard, rosemary oil has been proven to promote hair growth in non-allergic skin.

Minoxidil helps the hair follicles in the scalp receive more oxygen and helps the hair follicles become stronger and thicker.

Minoxidil and rosemary oil have a synergistic effect. There is no research on how to use both mixtures simultaneously.

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil 

One of the drugs used in the treatment of hair loss is Nanoxidil. Nanoxidil is applied topically, just like Minoxidil. Nanoxidil accelerates hair growth by acting on hair follicles.

Although both products are used during hair loss, they have some differences. Nanoxidil is a new product and not much study has been done on its effectiveness. Nanoxidil is also said to be more effective in treating certain types of hair loss, such as female pattern baldness.

On the other hand, Nanoxidil has the ability to block DHT, while Minoxidil only allows hair follicles to grow by receiving more oxygen.

While Minoxidil is approved by the FDA, Nanoxidil has not yet received FDA approval.

Side effects are seen in both drugs, although they are rare. Nanoxidil has fewer side effects compared to Minoxidil.

A period of 3-6 months of use is required to see the effectiveness of both drugs. Medicines need to be used regularly in the medium term for hair follicles to enter the growth phase.

Nutrafol vs Minoxidil 

Nutrafol is a natural supplement that helps with hair loss caused by stress, depression, hormone imbalances, and nutritional problems.

Nutrafol is a new supplement often used for health and beauty. Nutrafol Saw Palmetto has natural ingredients like biotin and marine collagen. These ingredients are good for reducing inflammation, balancing hormones, and fighting stress.

Nutrafol doesn’t directly treat hair loss, but it helps with the reasons behind it. You can use Nutrafol alongside other treatments, especially for stress and hormone imbalances.

Minoxidil and Nutrafol target different reasons for hair loss. So, using both can work well together. If you’re using Minoxidil for hair loss, Nutrafol can complement it.

Like all medicines, Nutrafol can have side effects. You should know these before using it with Minoxidil.

Common side effects of Nutrafol:

  • Digestive problems.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Skin issues like rashes, itching, redness, and swelling.
  • Difficulty breathing.

Redensyl vs Minoxidil 

Redensyl is a medicine for treating male pattern baldness and hair loss. It’s like an upgraded version of Minoxidil. You can find Redensyl as a serum, lotion, or spray.

Redensyl has a special ingredient called dihydro quercetin-glucoside. This ingredient helps hair follicle stem cells grow. It’s made from 7 plant parts and doesn’t have any bad effects.

Redensyl makes hair follicles stronger by helping the body make proteins. It also makes the time when hair falls out last longer and helps with fixing hair.

Some people say Redensyl works better than Minoxidil. Redensyl is better because it has natural stuff in it, while Minoxidil uses completely man-made stuff. Also, Minoxidil has more bad effects compared to Redensyl.

Possible bad effects of Redensyl:

  • Losing hair.
  • Skin gets irritated.
  • Getting headaches.

Remember, just like Minoxidil, Redensyl only works while you’re using it. It can’t stop hair loss, but it helps hair grow.

Peppermint Oil vs Minoxidil 

Peppermint oil is often used in beauty and health products. It can help with stomach issues, headaches, and muscle pain. Some companies say it can treat hair loss.

When you put peppermint oil on your scalp, it improves blood flow and helps hair grow. It also reduces inflammation in the scalp.

A study in 2014 with mice found that peppermint oil worked better than minoxidil for hair growth.

Some people believe peppermint oil can help with hair loss.

Minoxidil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, and other medicines can boost blood flow in the scalp. People aren’t sure if poor blood flow causes hair loss or if it’s the other way around. But improving blood, oxygen, and nutrients in the hair follicles can help.

So, peppermint oil might support hair growth like minoxidil, but there’s no scientific study on this yet. Still, some people who use peppermint oil for hair loss say it works.

Trioxidil vs Minoxidil 

Trioxidil is a product that helps with male pattern hair loss by blocking DHT. It supports healthy hair growth by making sure your hair gets the proteins it needs to stay strong and grow well. Trioxidil is known to have a strong impact on the scalp.

Troxidil is a new product, and there hasn’t been much scientific research on it yet. However, many people think it holds promise.

Trioxidil contains ingredients like Minoxidil, Azelaic Acid, and plant extracts. It’s also a DHT blocker. However, it hasn’t been approved by the FDA, and there’s no scientific proof of its effectiveness. Trioxidil is relatively new and costs more than Minoxidil.

Minoxidil mainly improves blood flow in the scalp, which helps hair get more oxygen and grow healthier. Trioxidil, on the other hand, does more than that. It not only promotes hair growth but also helps heal the scalp. It does this with a mixture of Minoxidil, Azelaic Acid, and plant extracts. Since Trioxidil blocks DHT, it’s better at preventing hair loss compared to Minoxidil.

With Minoxidil, its effects are only visible while you’re using the product. However, with Trioxidil, its benefits may continue even after you stop using it, although this isn’t guaranteed.

Both of these medications can cause side effects like scalp irritation, itching, and redness. These side effects with Minoxidil are often due to the presence of propylene glycol, which is not found in Trioxidil.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Minoxidil and Finasteride are among the most used drugs in the treatment of male pattern baldness in the world. Minoxidil is FDA approved for use in the treatment of hair loss. Minoxidil stops hair loss and promotes hair growth in the medium and long term. However, if you stop using Minoxidil, your hair will continue to fall out again.
Ismail YusibovIsmail Yusibov is the founder and content writer of the AlopeciaTips.

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