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Minoxidil is a medication used to treat gradual hair loss in men and women. Often, this product is recommended in the treatment of conditions like male pattern baldness. However, it is not intended for use to counteract a receding hairline in men or deal with baldness at the front of the scalp. More information

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Minoxidil is the primary ingredient used to address issues of unusual or rapid hair loss in men and women. It's commonly used in solutions like Regain or Regaine, which are applied directly to the scalp to support regrowth and reduce hair loss. Minoxidil was first found as a solution in tablet form for the treatment of hypertension. Today, it can be used in lotion or foam form to promote hair growth in people with thinning, gradual hair loss, and other issues. Minoxidil is not appropriate for the treatment of receding hairlines, and it is not recommended for unexplained or patchy hair loss. Minoxidil is not suitable for women who have lost hair after having a child.  

What is Minoxidil? 

Minoxidil is a medication used to treat gradual hair loss in men and women. Often, this product is recommended in the treatment of conditions like male pattern baldness. However, it is not intended for use to counteract a receding hairline in men or deal with baldness at the front of the scalp. The Minoxidil solution is also ideal for women experiencing thinning hair.  

Hair women is a common problem for a lot of men and women. In many cases, this issue gets worse with age and happens as a natural result of the body changing. However, it may be possible to encourage the regrowth of hair using drugs like Minoxidil. This substance belongs to a family of medication known as vasodilators. In other words, this means that Minoxidil helps the blood vessels in the scalp to dilate. At present, it isn't fully understood how Minoxidil helps to promote hair growth. Some scientists believe that the results come from better circulation in the scalp, and more nutrients getting to the base of the hair. People with unexplained hair loss and no history of baldness in their family are unlikely to experience positive results with Minoxidil.  

When is Minoxidil used? 

Minoxidil cream is intended only for use with men and women who suffer from male, or female pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness is often characterized by the loss of hair on the top of the scalp, whereas female pattern baldness happens more sporadically across the whole scalp.  

Minoxidil can also be used as an active ingredient in medication for hypertension. In this case, it is given to patients in pill form and requires a very different dosage to the one that we're discussing here. In the case of this guide, we are looking exclusively at Minoxidil as a treatment for the loss of hair, and hair thinning.  

How do you use Minoxidil? 

When taking any new medication, including topical drugs like Minoxidil, it is important to read the instructions given in the product packaging. If this substance is given to you by your doctor, then they will also provide you with guidance on how to use it as effectively as possible. If you are concerned about anything that you read in the patient leaflet for Minoxidil, contact your doctor before using it.  

Before using Minoxidil, clean and dry the scalp carefully. You can apply this substance to slightly damp hair, but it should not be soaked through, as this might make it harder for the substance to soak into the scalp. To use the Minoxidil solution, use the applicator that is supplied with the packaging and apply 1 mil of the liquid. You will be able to see a line on the applicator. You can also measure the dosage out using 20 drops. Part your hair to the area where the thinning or hair loss is the most significant and apply the solution to the area. Run the substance in gently, allowing it to dry completely before you use other products, or apply hats or towels to your hair. If you are using the foam version of Minoxidil, rinse your hands to make sure they're clean, then apply about half a capful of foam to the scalp and rub it in. Make sure that you allow the substance to dry before styling.  

If you notice scalp irritation after using Minoxidil, do not continue using it, and seek assistance from your doctor. Additionally, remember that Minoxidil should not be used on any other part of the body unless your doctor suggests using it there. Additionally, you should avoid applying Minoxidil to areas of the skin that are irritated, sore, or wounded. Minoxidil must be used consistently for you to start seeing a benefit. Remember that it takes time for hair to regrow, and you will usually not begin to see results until at least four months have passed with using Minoxidil. If your condition does not improve or worsens when you're using Minoxidil, make sure that you see your doctor.  

What dosages are available? 

The dosage recommended for Minoxidil will differ depending on your situation. Make sure that you follow the instructions given by your doctor or pay attention to the directions given on the label. If your dose is different from the one provided on the label, do not adjust your application strategy until your doctor tells you that you should.  

The amount of medicine that you take and the number of doses that you use will depend on the strength of the Minoxidil mixture that you are using. Additionally, it's important to pay attention to the advice given by your doctor on whether you should take breaks when using this substance. For most adults, the dose will be 1ml applied to the scalp twice per day. Children using this substance will need to have their application approved by a doctor. Do not use this medication more often than recommended by your doctor, and do not use greater amounts than your doctor suggests. Doing so will not necessarily lead to a faster or better regrowth of your hair.  

What are the side effects of Minoxidil? 

Most people will be able to use Minoxidil without any obvious side effects. However, it is possible for any medication to cause unintended reactions in patients. If you notice any strange responses when you begin taking Minoxidil, make sure that you speak to your doctor immediately. If any of your side effects persist, then seek help, and stop taking Minoxidil. Common side effects for Minoxidil include irritation and redness around the treated area, itching, and additional hair growth that happens somewhere other than the scalp.  

Less common side effects might include a burning feeling at the application point, increased loss or thinning of hair, soreness at the roots of your hair, inflammation around the hair root, and skin reddening or facial swelling. Some people will also experience additional side effects not listed here. Minoxidil may absorb into your skin, which can lead to more severe side effects. It is unlikely that this will happen.

However, if you notice any of the following side effects, seek assistance straight away: 

  • Breathing problems or pain in your chest 
  • An irregular or fast heartbeat 
  • Fainting or dizziness 
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet and other parts of the body 
  • Vision changes or blurry eyesight 
  • Swelling in your lower legs, feet or hands 

When shouldn't you use Minoxidil? 

Minoxidil will not be the right treatment choice for all patients. It's important to check with your doctor that this is the right option for you. Additionally, if you do begin taking Minoxidil, your doctor might ask you to check in with them more often to ensure that the drug is working as it should be.  

Make sure that you inform your doctor if you notice anything unusual happening with your body or hair when you are taking Minoxidil. Remember that your hair loss may continue for a while after you begin taking Minoxidil. If this lasts for longer than 2 weeks, let your doctor know. Make sure your doctor is aware if your hair growth doesn't improve after 4 months. Do not use Minoxidil if you are allergic to it, or any other ingredients in the solution.

Make sure that you also avoid taking this substance if you: 

  • Are bald due to a non-hereditary reason such as a thyroid disorder or chemotherapy 
  • Have hair loss related to recent childbirth 
  • Have a skin condition that damages your scalp 
  • Are nursing or pregnant 
  • Are using other medications on the scalp 
  • Have broken, inflamed, or infected skin on the scalp 
  • Have high blood pressure which is not being treated 
  • Have recently discontinued certain medications, including birth control 
  • Have specific grooming habits that may harm your scalp 

Does Minoxidil interact with any other medications? 

Minoxidil may interact with other medications, so it's important to tell your doctor if you are taking anything besides Minoxidil when you begin to use this drug. That includes any medications that you have purchased over the counter, as well as supplements, herbal remedies, and prescription drugs.  

Commonly, Minoxidil may interact with blood-pressure-lowering medications, amifostine, anthralin, topical corticosteroids, rituximab, tretinoin, and topical medications usually applied to the skin. If you are taking a medication that reacts negatively to Minoxidil, speak to your doctor.  

Where can you buy Minoxidil? 

Minoxidil is available to buy both online and offline from registered pharmacies. It is important to speak to your doctor before you begin using Minoxidil, as it may not be the right treatment for you. Additionally, Minoxidil can react poorly to some medications.  

Can you get Minoxidil without a prescription?  

It is possible to obtain Minoxidil without a prescription, however, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor before using this medication. It may not be the right treatment for your hair loss or hair thinning condition. Your doctor may be able to advise an alternative.  




BNF National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2018, Minoxidil Infections and Dose, [Accessed on the 20th of June 2019], Available on: https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/minoxidil.html   

Drugs.com, Drug Interactions with Minoxidil, 2018, [Accessed on the 20th of June 2019], Available on: https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/minoxidil.html  

Regaine, Online, 2017, Johnson and Johnson Limited, Minoxidil, [Accessed on the 20th of June 2019], Available on: https://www.regaine.co.uk/minoxidil 

Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741365

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.