Minoxidil for Hair Loss
Minoxidil (2% or 5% solution) is a spray or lotion that you put directly on your scalp twice a day. It is available without a prescription.
How It Works
It is unclear how minoxidil affects hair growth. Minoxidil appears to increase hair follicles and also thickens the shafts of existing hair so that it grows in thicker.
Minoxidil has been approved for both men and women.
Why It Is Used
Minoxidil was originally used to treat high blood pressure. It is now also used to treat inherited hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), the most common cause of hair loss. And it is used to treat other causes of hair loss too.
How Well It Works
Minoxidil slows hair loss and grows new hair. In men, the 5% solution appears to be more effective than the 2% solution, but it costs more and may have more side effects.
Some people who take minoxidil only grow hair that is thin and wispy or similar to peach fuzz.
Minoxidil seems to work best on people younger than 30 years of age who have been losing hair for fewer than 5 years.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Stop use and call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Minoxidil must be used daily. If you stop using minoxidil, any regrown hair will gradually be lost, and within 6 to 12 months the scalp will most likely appear the same as before treatment.
If you have heart problems, ask your doctor about using this medicine.
Women may have more hair growth if they use minoxidil along with estrogen (such as hormone therapy or birth control pills).
In women, minoxidil may promote facial hair growth, especially on the forehead and cheeks.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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