Hair loss and hair thinning affect both men and women, irrespective of their age. Nowadays, there are some drugs available in the market which can effectively treat their underlying causes. Minoxidil is one of the most effective medications that help in restoring the growth of your hair. Find out what type of hair loss Minoxidil can control, its effectiveness, how long it takes to show results, and more.
What Is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved medication for treating hair loss. It was originally introduced in the tablet form to treat high blood pressure. Incidentally, according to observation patients who were undergoing treatment with minoxidil had better hair. So, a topical formulation was developed to treat hair loss without causing any side effects. Minoxidil is available as a topical solution (in 2%, 5% and 10% concentrations) and also as a foam to treat hair loss.
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How Does Minoxidil Work?
We know that hair growth happens in three main phases: anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is the first phase where hair growth starts.
Minoxidil induces the early anagen phase when you apply it onto your scalp, causing the hair follicles to enter the growth process prematurely. Its action is to promote the survival of human dermal papillary cells or DPC’s by elongating the anagen phase of hair growth.
When you apply Minoxidil onto the scalp, it converts into its active form, minoxidil sulphate, with the help of certain enzymes. This widens the blood vessels by causing hyper-polarisation of cell membranes and helps in making the nutrient supply readily available for hair follicles on the scalp. Minoxidil also converts the hair in the telogen (rest) phase to the anagen phase (growth). Additionally, Minoxidil also stimulates regrowth of hairs and increases the length and thickness of follicles in anagen or growth phase.
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What Are The Uses Of Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is an effective drug which helps not only in the re-growth of lost hair to a large extent but also in preventing further hair loss and hair thinning. It can control hair loss effectively if you use it during the early stages of balding. It shows a marginal improvement in hair fall and hair thinning within the first few months. However, with continuous usage, you will notice that your existing hairs are thicker and healthier than before.
Minoxidil, whether in the form of foam or solution, effectively helps in treating male and female pattern baldness.
Although Minoxidil may not change the course for patchy/unexplained hair loss, it can drastically slow down the rate of hair loss and also promote hair growth in some cases.
Minoxidil can work on a receding hairline in the early stages. For the advanced condition of baldness, Minoxidil may not be an effective treatment option. So, trichologists usually recommend it in combination with oral medications like Finasteride etc. for better results.
How Do I Use Minoxidil For Treating Hair Loss?
Minoxidil comes in two forms, foam and liquid. You need to apply Minoxidil twice a day on your scalp, or as directed by your dermatologist.
Steps To Apply Minoxidil Liquid Solution –
Here are a few steps you need to follow while using a minoxidil solution:
- Before you apply this solution to your head, ensure that your scalp and hair are dry and clean.
- Apply only the prescribed amount of this solution onto the area affected.
- Note that after applying Minoxidil, you must not shampoo your hair for at least 4 hours.
- Wash your hands immediately after applying this solution.
- Do not use a hairdryer after you apply this solution.
- You need to let the Minoxidil set in for at least 2 to 4 hours after application.
- Avoid touching your hair while Minoxidil is still wet, as you may end up spreading it to other parts of the face such as forehead, temples etc.
Steps To Apply Minoxidil Topical Foam –
Here are a few steps you need to follow while using a minoxidil topical foam:
- Part your hair and divide it into two to three sections to reveal the affected area of the scalp.
- Open the container by matching the arrow on the can-ring with the arrow on the cap.
- Take the foam and gently massage your scalp using it.
- Ensure that you wash your hands immediately after the application.
- Allow your scalp to absorb the foam — comparatively, the foam sets in faster than the liquid solution.
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How Long Before Minoxidil Starts Working?
During the initial few weeks of application, you may observe that you are losing a lot of hair. This shedding is due to the encouragement of hairs already in the resting phase to shed early and to give way to new, healthier anagen hairs. So, you will need to be patient.
Although this solution is a slow starter, you will be able to see remarkable results within approximately one year of consistent usage, though results may be obvious in some as early as three months.
Studies also suggest that Minoxidil is effective in treating baldness near the crown and the top of the head. However, it is important to note that you have to be consistent with your approach, as the stimulation of hair growth persists as long as you use the topical solution.
There are negligible chances of hair regrowth on a completely bald scalp even after using Minoxidil because it cannot undo the irreversible damage. For this reason, it is important to note that this treatment may not be effective in advanced cases of balding.
What Are The Side Effects Of Minoxidil?
Minoxidil usage is safe and in most cases, side effects are minimal. In rare cases, people may face some side effects such as:
- Slight burning and stinging sensation or redness during the initial application on the affected site. This is a common side effect, but if this persists or becomes worse, seek help from your dermatologist immediately.
- Some people may also have rashes, itching/ swelling, shortness of breath, and dizziness after using Minoxidil which subside soon after stopping it. In case you suffer from any of the above, notify your dermatologist immediately.
- If you use Minoxidil on any other area of the body by mistake, then you may see unusual hair growth. Therefore, it is very important to follow all the precautions advised by your dermatologist.
- If you are on any other medication, ensure that you seek a doctor’s advise to analyse how Minoxidil will interact with the medicines you are consuming to avoid any complications.
- Although it is rare, if you experience persistent or intolerable headache and heaviness of head, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, swollen hands/feet, sudden weight gain, fatigue, etc. consult your dermatologist immediately.
Is Minoxidil Safe For Long Term Use?
Yes, Minoxidil is safe for long-term use and many users will share that they did not experience any side effects even after using the product for many years. However, pregnant women should strictly avoid using it.
Though hair loss and hair thinning are common problems, you no longer have to suffer in silence.