Important Information Regarding Minoxidil/Rogaine®
What is Minoxidil/Rogaine®?
Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine®) has been used as a treatment for hair loss since the 1980s. 2 % and 5% Minoxidil solutions have been used both by men and women for direct application over their scalp to help stimulate the growth of new hair.
When it was first introduced in the market, this drug received a great deal of media attention owing to the fact that it was the only hair-regrowth drug approved by the FDA. For a while, it was even known as the “miracle cure for hair loss”, but over time, studies started showing that its results were often limited.
Let us further study Minoxidil in detail.
How does Minoxidil work?
When Minoxidil was first created, it was never intended to be used as a hair loss treatment. Minoxidil, in pill form, was used for reducing high blood pressure. When taken orally; the drug dilated arteries thereby reducing resistance to blood flow. At the same time, patients started noticing widening excessive hair regrowth. Further tests confirmed that Minoxidil prolonged the anagen(active growth) phase of hair thereby resulting in ‘longer and higher number of strands’. The precise physiological reasons for this are unknown, but, since there were no side effects, physicians started prescribing it to their patients suffering from hair loss. Since the pill form had greater side effects, its use was impractical. As a result, UpJohn Corporation developed the topical formulation in 1980s that is known as Rogaine® today.
Dosage and price of Minoxidil
There are two strengths of Minoxidil: 2 and 5 %. The 5% Minoxidil has been proven to be more effective against hair loss than the 2 % solution. Both strengths of Rogaine® can be used safely on the scalp twice a day. If positive results are noticed; one has to use the drug lifelong to maintain results. Failure to do so can result in the loss of the newly grown hair within 4 to 5 months. Patients must also note that the results of Minoxidil are ‘dose-dependent’ which means that higher the dosage-better the results. While 5 % solution will not show faster results, you will definitely see thicker and denser growth than the 2% solution. Most doctors prescribe 2% solution to women for use twice a day. Patients who wish to use the formulation only once a day can use the 5% solution. Minoxidil/Rogaine® is available over-the-counter (without prescription) in foam form.
Over the counter Rogaine is priced at $30 for a one month supply depending on where you purchase it.
Side effects of Minoxidil
Minoxidil has very few side effects. A few patients have noticed dryness of scalp and scalp-irritation, but apart from that, this drug has been generally well received. Some patients may notice increased shedding in the first 2-3 months within starting the use of Minoxidil. But this is an indication that the drug is working as intended; so one must continue using it and not stop. Unwanted hair growth on the sides of the face may be noticed in some cases. So, care must be taken to use the drug only in the required areas of the scalp. One must also carefully wash off one’s hands after the application of this drug.
Patients who notice excessive unnatural hair growth, nausea, weight gain, vomiting or other allergic reactions like facial swelling, hives, itching, difficulty in breathing, fainting or lightheadedness must seek medical attention right away.
Contraindications to Minoxidil
Patients having hypersensitivity to any of the components of Minoxidil must not use the drug. Additionally, pregnant and nursing women are advised against the use of Minoxidil.
Research on Minoxidil
- 1. A decade’s worth of research has shown that Minoxidil or Rogaine ® is reasonably effective as a hair restoration medicine. 5% Minoxidil solution is known to be even more effective in stimulating hair growth in men and women as compared to the 2 % solution.
- 2. When used as prescribed, both, 2% and 5% Minoxidil solutions stimulated hair growth in 30 percent of male patients and also showed a favorable outcome in the studied female group. The 5% percent solution had a better result in both cases.
- 3. Topical application (i.e. direct over-the-scalp application) is most effective in patients showing signs of early onset of androgenetic alopecia.
- 4. Many dermatologists and physicians are known to have prescribed Minoxidil to slow the progression of alopecia in their younger patients. This has helped patients delay hair transplantations and also helped preserve the hair so it can be used for transplantation at a later stage.
Minoxidil application has shown positive results in smaller regions of hair loss. The drug is not very effective if the hair loss has been present for prolonged periods and is particularly affecting very large portions of the scalp. It is also known to work better in the central regions of the head rather than the frontal areas. The drug must therefore be used in early stages of hair loss and as prescribed by a doctor. Prolonged (lifelong) use is necessary to see continued results.