Minoxidil is a topical medication that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia or male/female pattern baldness. It’s effective for hair growth, hair regrowth, and hair strengthening.
Learn more about how minoxidil works and the most effective way to apply it, and check out some impressive before and after photos of minoxidil treatment.
What is minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a topical medication that has been shown to be effective in treating thinning hair for both men and women.
Minoxidil was first developed for high blood pressure, and it was then discovered that minoxidil can stimulate hair growth when applied topically (on the skin) as a foam or liquid, or when taken orally in pill form.
Today, minoxidil is one of the most popular hair loss treatments and is the active ingredient in brand names like Rogaine.
Minoxidil is available over-the-counter without a prescription, although you should consult a medical professional before using it if you have any preexisting conditions or are taking other medications.
What’s the active ingredient?
The active ingredient in minoxidil is called minoxidil sulfate, which belongs to a class of drugs called vasodilators. When you apply it on your scalp, minoxidil increases the flow of oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the follicles.
The effect is an increase of nutrients and other necessary substances to reach your follicle cells to improve circulation. The goal of using minoxidil is not only thicker-looking hair, but also healthier hair follicles.
Minoxidil has been around for more than 30 years for treating hair loss. The medication is one of two FDA-approved drugs for use on the scalp to treat hair loss in men and women.
There is some evidence that it may work better than other treatments like finasteride (Propecia).
How long does minoxidil take to show results?
It can sometimes take up to six months before you see visible improvement from minoxidil.
It’s important not to give up on treatment too early because there are three different phases of hair follicle growth: anagen phase, when your hairs grow most quickly.
Catagen phase, when hairs stop growing but don’t fall out yet. And telogen phase, when hairs fall out and a new anagen phase starts. There may also be a brief period of shedding before you see any improvement.
In the first six to eight weeks, minoxidil stimulates hair follicles in your anagen phase that are near the surface of the scalp (near where you apply it).
By 12 months, minoxidil can stop or even reverse the miniaturization of some non-growing hairs — but this doesn’t happen for everyone.
Do I need a prescription for minoxidil?
No, a prescription is not required to use minoxidil. The drug can be found in pharmacies, retailers, and online. It is recommended to talk with your doctor before trying minoxidil to make sure it doesn’t interact with existing medical conditions or medications you may be taking.
If you discover that the topical application causes skin irritation, you can talk with your doctor for a prescription of oral minoxidil which is available as a tablet.
Minoxidil before and after photos
Minoxidil may or may not work for you. Not everyone has the same results using this medication. There are several factors that could influence the results such as the length of time the minoxidil is used, how much hair you have before taking it, and whether or not your body has a sensitivity to this medication.
One study showed that in a small number of people who took minoxidil over an extended period of time there was either no change (in some cases) or slower growth for those with mild-to-moderate baldness. For others, the results are quite positive with significant hair growth.
The last three images showcase the effects of minoxidil in varying strengths. In these photos, patients exhibited healthy hair growth and hair regrowth after using the product for an extended period of time.
Are there side effects?
Minoxidil does have some side effects, with the most common side effect being irritation on the scalp.
Other common side effects may include:
- Skin irritation
- Scalp dryness
- Temporary hair shedding
- Hair growth in untreated areas
For some people, minoxidil may make hair oily where the topical solution has been used. You may experience a feeling of warmth where you applied minoxidil to your scalp.
The likelihood you will experience these side effects depends on your individual sensitivity. You can help by using less product at once – one pump instead of two pumps, or perhaps applying minoxidil only every other day rather than daily.
Minoxidil is not intended for anyone under the age of 18. The drug is also not recommended if you are planning on becoming pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding because there have not been studies of the effects of minoxidil on a fetus.
How to get minoxidil?
Minoxidil is available as an over-the-counter medicine for the topical solution and foam, or with a prescription for the oral tablet. You can find the 2% and 5% topical solution and foam in pharmacies like Walgreens and retailers like Target and Walmart.
Minoxidil can be purchased online without requiring a prescription.
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