Minoxidil was first observed to grow hair in the 1960s, when it was used orally to treat hypertension. In 1984, FDA approved it as a topical treatment for androgenetic alopecia in men. In 1988, the FDA approved Minoxidil treatment for female pattern baldness. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine. It is available over-the-counter without a prescription.

It is most effective to treat hair loss on the crown and back of the head in men, and for women with general thinning. It has not been shown effective to treat a receding hairline. And it is not a cure. If you stop using it, what you have gained will be lost as the hair falls out.

How does minoxidil work?

Scientists have been unable to determine exactly why it works. But the science shows that it dilates blood vessels on the scalp. The effect is:

  • Increased blood flow which improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles.
  • A reactivation of dormant hair follicles, moving them from the resting phase to the growth phase.
  • Prolongation of the hair’s active growth phase which creates longer, and more dense hair.
  • Widening of the hair follicles that were miniaturized due to androgens. This means thicker strands of hair, and reverses miniaturization of hair follicles which is the hallmark of hereditary hair loss.

Studies confirm that Minoxidil can effectively regrow hair lost due to hereditary pattern baldness in men, and thinning in women. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Two out of three men, and men under the age of 40 have the best response.

Are there side effects of minoxidil?

Yes. It can cause redness, itching, dryness, flaking and scalp irritation. Generally, these are rare, but higher strength products often cause some of these side effects. Another common side effect is hair growth on the face and hands.

How well does minoxidil work?

Clinical studies show that it regrows hair and improves hair density in 90% of men, and over 80% of women. When it works, it can take up to four months to see results. However, it must be used for life to maintain regrowth. If discontinued, hair loss will recur within 3-4 months.

What is the right dose of minoxidil?

Studies report that the use of 5% topical Minoxidil, applied twice a day, is safe and effective for hair regrowth and scalp coverage in men. For women with hereditary hair loss a 5% solution applied once a day will help improve density, cover thinning and prevent further hair loss.

The solution must remain on the scalp for at least four hours to be effective. Also, Rogaine is safe for use on color treated hair, but may cause some color changes.

At StrandMD in Newport Beach, California you can be sure you are receiving the best, most up to date information about hair loss treatments.

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