What is minoxidil, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Minoxidil is a drug that is used
for treating male-pattern baldness and hair loss in women. Oral minoxidil was
originally used for treating high blood pressure, but patients and health care
providers noticed that hair growth was a side effect of treatment. This led to
the development of topical (solution applied to the skin) minoxidil for the
treatment of male-pattern baldness. The mechanism of action leading to growth of
hair is unknown. The FDA approved minoxidil in August 1988.
What brand names are available for minoxidil?
Rogaine (for men or women)
Is minoxidil available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for minoxidil?
What are the uses for minoxidil?
Minoxidil is used to treat male-pattern
baldness. In women, it is used to treat diffuse loss of hair or thinning of hair
in the frontal areas of the scalp.
What are the side effects of minoxidil?
Common side effects of minoxidil include:
Other side effects include:
- chest pain, and
- increased or decreased blood pressure.
An increase in the absorption of minoxidil from the scalp can occur in patients
with damaged skin, leading to increased side effects. Minoxidil’s contains
alcohol that can irritate the eyes. In case of accidental contact with eyes or
other sensitive areas, the exposed area should be washed with cool water.
Tendonitis has also been reported.
It is normal to lose 100-150 hairs per day.
What is the dosage for minoxidil?
Minoxidil should be applied as 1 ml of solution or
half a capful of foam to dry hair and scalp once in the morning and again in the
evening. It should be spread evenly over the affected areas, and then the hands
should be washed with warm water (if the hands are used for application).
Minoxidil must be applied on the scalp at least twice daily and for at least
four months to see results. Minoxidil works less well in patients that are
older, have larger areas of baldness, and have been bald for longer periods of
time. Minoxidil should be applied to a dry scalp only, and left in place for at
least four hours. Minoxidil must be continued in order to maintain or increase
the hair growth achieved.
Which drugs or supplements interact with minoxidil?
Minoxidil should not be used with other topical medications because they may increase its absorption and side effects.
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Is minoxidil safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
Minoxidil should not be used by
women because it has not been evaluated adequately in nursing mothers.
What else should I know about minoxidil?
What preparations of minoxidil are available?
Solution: 2 and 5%; Foam: 5% (for topical use
only, do not confuse topical minoxidil with oral minoxidil).
How should I keep minoxidil stored?
Minoxidil should be stored at room temperature, 20 C – 25 C (68 F – 77 F).