Minoxidil, How It Works, Effectiveness and Research

Minoxidil is a vasodilator used to help regrow the hair. It’s used for hair growth in patients who are experiencing a gradual hair loss and thinning of the hair. Originally, it was designed for high blood pressure or hypertension patients, but it was realized that it caused hair growth even in areas where there was minimal hair. This side effect has now benefited many people who suffer from hair loss. Minoxidil has been successful in clinical trials by helping to restore hair loss thereby reducing baldness.

This amazing drug not only stops further loss of hair but can also stimulate hair growth on some of the areas that had previously experienced hair loss. Although it’s not yet very clear how it works, it’s believed that it widens the blood vessels in the scalp of the head thereby improving the hair follicle to stimulate hair growth. However, minoxidil does not cause a permanent hair growth hence you need to continue applying it to maintain hair growth. Before using the drug, you should share with you doctor if

· You are expectant of planning to get pregnant.

· If you are suffering from heart or blood pressure conditions.

· If you are on any prescription of non-prescription medicine, dietary supplements or herbal preparation. This is because some medicines may interact with the drug

· If you are allergic to some foods, medicines or other substances.

How does it work?

Minoxidil was previously used to treat hypertension or high blood pressure condition. Taken in pill form or orally, it widens or dilates the blood vessels in the body causing less resistant to blood flow. Unfortunately, for some patients especially the women, it has a tendency of causing excessive hair growth. After noting that this side effect would be welcomed by other people, drug manufacturers came up with a topical solution to help with the hair loss while avoiding the dilation of the artery of the oral drug.

This drug works by dilating the hair follicle leading to a thicker hair strand and prolonging the anagen stage resulting into longer and higher number of strands. Although the exact way how this happens is not very clear, it’s believed to be safe and effective when properly used. According to studies, over 60% of men who have used it have shown an improvement of vertex balding. There are two strengths of minoxidil namely 2% and 5%. Without any significant increase in side effects or irritation the 5% has been noted to very effective.

For effective use, you need to apply both strengths on the scalp two times a day. Remember, to maintain results, the treatment must be continued indefinitely. This is because once it’s stopped any hair gain will be lost within 6 months. After applying the drug, you must wash your hands well so that it does not spread to other parts of the body where it’s not needed.

Is it effective?

When it comes to the effectiveness of minoxidil, it’s important to note that there are different products and different concentrations that have varied levels of effectiveness. However, the reason why this drug works well is not very clear hence its effectiveness is dependent on the results. When looking at how effective the drug is, it’s important to note that minoxidil is dosage dependent. This means a stronger dose is more effective as compared to weaker dose. Although this is worth questioning, 5% dosage is much more effective than the 2% dose. With 5%, there will be more hair growth but you will still have to wait for the same duration to experience any noticeable results. Also, this drug is more effective in different places of the scalp

In the recent past, a lot of studies have been done concerning the effectiveness of minoxidil. For instance, dermatologists conducted a study in 984 males with the same pattern of hair loss. The study evaluated the effectiveness of minoxidil 5% in stopping hair loss and stimulating hair growth. Throughout the one year of study, the male patients applied 1 millimeter of 5% minoxidil twice a day on their scalp. After every 3 months, they collected the hair lost during hair washing.

After the study, it was noted that hair loss areas had become smaller in over 60% of the men. These results confirmed the safety and efficacy of minoxidil. Although many people benefited, the result varied from one individual to another. It can be concluded that although minoxidil is effective when used in higher percentage the wide range of effects was based on the individual receiving the treatment. Overall, after many years of use, minoxidil has been noted to be effective in reversing some degree of baldness among male. Also, the sooner it’s used, the more effective it becomes. In fact, it’s very much effective when the patient has been balding for less than 5 years. In some instances it was noted to be more effective when combined with other solutions.

Side effects

Apart from the needed benefits, minoxidil also has some unwanted side effects. If any of these side effects become bothersome you need to check with your doctor. After using minoxidil, stinging, burning or redness may occur at the site of application. In case your physician has directed you to use this drug, then he has concluded the benefits are more than the side effects that you are likely to experience. Overall, many patients using this medication do not normally experience any bothersome side effects. In fact, rarely does it cause and side effects after being absorbed through the skin.

If you experience dizziness, irregular heartbeat, unwanted body or facial hair growth, unusual weight gain, swelling of the hands, difficulty in breathing, you should stop using the drug immediately and tell the doctor. Although it’s rare to have a very serious allergic reaction, if you notice any symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, itching, rash and swelling, you need to seek medical attention. More so, if you have any questions about allergic reactions or side effects, it’s important to contact a doctor. Before starting on the drug it’s also important to talk to your doctor for complete information about the benefits and the risks’ if this drug.