Many of us familiar with the term “minoxidil” know that it’s the key ingredient in a lot of hair regrowth products, but what exactly does it do? It’s classified as a “vasodialator” medication which means that it opens (dilates) our blood vessels.
Minoxidil – The Beginning
By working directly on the muscles in the walls of your arteries, minoxidil (used as a medication) prevents the artery muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing.
Used initially to treat high blood pressure, minoxidil was found to have the side effect of hair growth. Fast forwarding to today, minoxidil is no longer a patented medication and is used in a number of over-the-counter products to regrow hair.
But before you think that minoxidil will be your answer for losing your hair or male pattern baldness, there is much you need to know about who it will work for and the potential side effects for some users.
No one enjoys reading the fine print
When our hair starts to fall out, it’s only natural to panic a little because after all, it’s our appearance, how we feel about ourselves and how we feel we are perceived by others.
Product manufacturers are very good at trying to convince us, spending millions of dollars in advertising, that their product is the one… that it is going to change our lives. But, what we often miss in the fine print is that the product won’t work for everybody.
As an example, let’s take the most widely recognized hair regrowth brand on the market. They advertise to “Regrow Hair in 4 Months” and that they’re the “#1 Dermotologist Recommended Brand”. This in itself, because we want our hair back, is enough to send a lot of us to the store to buy. The big, bold advertising has to be the truth, right? Otherwise, why would they advertise it? Read on.
The website states in small print it helps reverse the progression of “hereditary hair loss”. It also states in another area of their website that the product “is not indicated for other causes of hair loss”. This means that this brand will likely not work for any other hair loss condition than the hereditary hair loss it states. This easy-to-miss qualification can result in a lot of unhappy customers who have experienced other forms of hair loss and found the product not to work for them.
Here’s what you must know about Minoxidil’s effects
1) There is no research trial evidence that ANY (hair loss) treatments provide long term benefit to patients with alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. If you suffer from these hair loss conditions, minoxidil will not work for you.
2) Minoxidil will not cure male pattern baldness. Within 60 to 90 days of stopping treatment, your hair will fall out if minoxidil use is discontinued. Making the commitment to using minoxidil is long term and costly.
3) You will need to use minoxidil for anywhere from 4 months to 1 year to see any results. This is also a long term financial commitment with no guarantee it will work for your type of hair loss.
4) This ingredient may grow unwanted hair, for some people, in other areas where this topical treatment was not applied.
5) While the FDA has approved minoxidil for the treatment of hereditary hair loss, some people may experience serious side effects such as:
- unwanted facial or body hair
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- fainting or dizziness
- scalp irritation or itching
- swelling of hands/feet
- unusual weight gain
- tiredness or difficulty breathing when laying down
6) If you have high blood pressure and are currently taking medication for it, minoxidil may interact with your medication. If you make the decision to use this product, consult with your doctor first regarding the potential for interaction.
7) Minoxidil may also interact with other products you may use on your scalp or with medications that interact with alcohol. It is important to be informed before you make the decision to move forward.
8) Women should use no more than the 2% solution. The 5% solution offered on the market should be used by men only in the US. The 5% solution is not approved for use by women in the US. Any women using a stronger solution do so at their own risk.
If you make the decision to use minoxidil, your best treatment results are likely to be realized when you consult first with your doctor about your hair loss.
Your doctor will be able to help you determine the true cause of your hair loss and whether minoxidil will work for your type of hair loss. Your doctor can also make recommendations for a treatment solution based on your overall health and taking into consideration any medications you are currently taking.
Remember, with any hair loss product you use, it’s best to do your own research and understand the root cause of your hair loss problem. Your own personal health, genetic makeup as well as your ability to commit to a prescribed hair loss regimen will determine your level of success.