Minoxidil Before and After
Balding and hair thinning are usually associated with older men, but realistically, you can start losing hair as early as your teens. Many factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, and aging, can cause hair thinning. Androgenic alopecia, also known as male or female-pattern hair loss, is the most common cause of hair loss. It is treatable with hair-loss products like Minoxidil.
Minoxidil was designed to be a blood pressure medication, but researchers noticed an interesting side effect. About one in every five people taking minoxidil had increased hair growth and regrowth. Hair thinning and baldness occur when hair follicles spend more of their growth cycle in the telogen resting phase and less in the anagen growth phase.
Throughout your lifetime, in response to hormones and genetic factors, the length of each phase and the number of hair follicles in each stage will change. Everyone loses about 50 to 100 hairs per day, but people with significant hair loss will lose clumps of hair, especially when showering.
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How Soon to Expect Minoxidil Results
In 1987, the topical form of Minoxidil was FDA-approved to treat male pattern baldness.1 It was subsequently approved to treat female-pattern baldness as well. More recently, low-dose oral minoxidil has also been used to treat hair loss and baldness. Oral minoxidil has been found to be more effective than topical minoxidil, but it has the potential for more side effects.
Minoxidil widens blood vessels and increases blood flow to hair follicles in the scalp, increasing nutrient and oxygen delivery. Some individuals will notice increased hair shedding during the first few weeks of use. This is temporary. Others will not notice any significant changes in their hair quality or growth. This can be expected because it can take two to four months to see any effects from topical minoxidil. Hair grows at a rate of one-half to one inch per month. How fast you see results from using minoxidil can also depend on the cause of your hair loss.
Taking Minoxidil for Androgenetic Alopecia
Androgenetic alopecia is a common condition that affects about 50 million men and 30 million women in the U.S. Symptoms are most often noticed between the ages of 30 and 65, but it can occur as early as puberty.2 About half of all men over the age of 50 experience hair loss.3 Hair loss is more common in women after menopause.
Androgenetic alopecia causes a receding hairline, thinner hair, and hair loss at the crown in men. Women experience overall hair thinning and a widened part. A genetic sensitivity to the androgen dihydrotestosterone causes a shortened follicular hair growth phase and miniaturized hair follicles. Miniaturization can advance gradually, rapidly, or intermittently, exposing more and more of the scalp.4
Taking Minoxidil for Male Patterned Baldness
Topical Minoxidil is available as a 2% or 5% solution or a 5% foam. It is sold under the brand name Rogaine. Minoxidil promotes hair regrowth in approximately one-third of men with male-pattern hair loss and about two-thirds of women with female-pattern hair loss. 5,6 When it comes to treating male-pattern hair loss, the 5% solution outperforms the 2% solution. Users of the more concentrated solution experienced 45 percent more hair regrowth after 48 weeks. Men who used the 5% minoxidil solution responded to treatment faster than men who used the 2% solution.7
Taking Minoxidil for Female Patterned Baldness
After eight months, approximately 40% of women aged 18 to 45 with mild-to-moderate hair loss reported minimal hair regrowth, while 19% reported moderate hair regrowth in clinical studies. Another study found that people who used 2% minoxidil had eight more hairs per square centimeter, and those who used 5% had 12.4 more hairs per square centimeter than those who used a placebo. A 5-year follow-up study discovered that the peak of hair regrowth occurred at one year.8
Taking Minoxidil for Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss. It occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, causing hair loss. Hair loss is typically in small, round patches. Alopecia area is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but the exact cause is unknown.
See a dermatologist if you think alopecia areata may be causing your hair loss. They will likely prescribe a combination of medications to calm the immune system and stimulate hair regrowth.
Minoxidil can help you maintain hair regrowth after alopecia areata treatment. Hair loss from alopecia areata is very variable, so it is difficult to predict how long it will take for you to notice results.
Taking Minoxidil for Other Hair Loss Conditions
Minoxidil stimulates hair regrowth by increasing blood flow to hair follicles. It can be used to treat hair loss from medical conditions or hair loss as a result of taking some medications. Some people use minoxidil to enhance naturally thin hair.
Other potential uses of minoxidil include hair loss due to:
- Dramatic or fast weight loss
- Hormonal imbalances
- Nutritional deficiencies
What To Do If You Don’t See Results from Taking Minoxidil
Minoxidil can take several months to work. Contact your doctor if you do not see some results after taking Minoxidil for four months. If you have noticed improvements, don’t stop using Minoxidil, as any gains in regrowth are typically lost within three to four months of stopping the medication.
Some people need to stop taking minoxidil because of its side effects. Potential side effects from Minoxidil include:
- Changes in hair color or texture
- Excessive hair growth
- Scalp itching
- Scalp scaling
According to drugs.com, the following serious side effects may occur:
- Chest pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Rapid weight gain from fluid retention
- Severe scalp irritation
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Unwanted excessive facial hair growth
- Vision changes
If your hair loss is progressing or you don’t notice any regrowth, contact your doctor. There are many potential causes of hair loss, including medication side effects. These may require a different treatment.
Finasteride is a prescription alternative to minoxidil. It blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which makes it a very effective treatment for androgenetic alopecia. If you don’t see results from Minoxidil or experience unwanted side effects, talk to a treatment specialist at Invigor Medical to learn whether Finasteride might be an appropriate hair-loss treatment for you.
- Badri T, Nessel TA, Kumar DD. Minoxidil. StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing
- Rhodes T, Girman CJ, Savin RC, et al. Prevalence of male pattern hair loss in 18-49 year old men. Dermatol Surg. Dec 1998;24(12):1330-2. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.1998.tb00009.x
- Konior R, Nadmi S. Hair restoration: medical and surgical techniques. In: Flint P, ed. 7 ed. Elsevier; 2021:31-350.
- DeVillez RL. The therapeutic use of topical Minoxidil. Dermatol Clin. Apr 1990;8(2):367-75.
- Olsen EA, Dunlap FE, Funicella T, et al. A randomized clinical trial of 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2002;47(3):377-385. doi:10.1067/mjd.2002.124088
- Suchonwanit P, Thammarucha S, Leerunyakul K. Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019;13:2777-2786. doi:10.2147/dddt.S214907