Minoxidil is a widely used topical solution that treats male and female pattern baldness when it is applied to the scalp. It is used to suppress balding and to stimulate hair growth. It is most effective in the early stages of balding when hair loss is recent and in people under age 40. Although minoxidil can help stimulate hair growth, your newly grown hair will fall out if you stop using it. Minoxidil is not a cure for baldness, and it does not have an effect on receding hairlines.
Minoxidil is available to consumers over-the-counter and is commonly known by its popular brand name, Rogaine®. This FDA-approved product for hair growth has been effective for many people suffering from baldness. However, the product is not curative and it does have some side effects that can be concerning for users. While the risks for side effects while taking minoxidil are relatively low, some can be dangerous if the product is absorbed by your bloodstream. Interestingly, minoxidil is also available in an oral pill with a prescription from your doctor. In pill form, minoxidil works as a vasodilator to relax your blood vessels to treat high blood pressure. When topical minoxidil is absorbed by the bloodstream through broken or torn skin on your scalp, it can have similar effects to the pill and cause systemic vasodilation. Other side effects of minoxidil include:
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Swelling of hands and feet which can be accompanied by rapid weight gain from water retention
- Severe scalp irritation
- Unwanted facial hair growth
Because of these severe side effects, it is essential that minoxidil is not applied to broken or irritated skin to prevent absorption by the bloodstream.
There are also common side effects of using minoxidil including changes in your hair color and texture, and shedding. Some people also may experience an allergic reaction or skin irritation from using the product.
How does minoxidil work?
There is some mystery to how minoxidil works in stimulating hair growth. Some research suggests that the vasodilator properties of minoxidil increase blood flow to hair follicles, thereby supplying more oxygen and nutrients to stimulate hair growth. Other theories suggest that minoxidil encourages hair to enter the anagen phase of the hair cycle.
Hair growth is cyclical. The anagen phase is the growth phase of the hair cycle. Cells within the bulb divide rapidly to grow the hair follicle. This period can last anywhere between 2-7 years and is largely determined by your age, genetics, health, and other factors including medication use. There is usually a limit to how long your hair can grow before it switches to the catagen phase or resting phase. Catagen is relatively short, lasting only 2-3 weeks. During this resting period, the hair follicle detaches from the blood supply and prepares to shed. Finally, hair enters the telogen phase, where the hair initially rests while a new follicle begins to grow in the bulb. After about 3 months of resting, the older hair follicle with fall out, allowing the new follicle to emerge.
Most people lose between 50-100 hairs every day, and most hair loss goes unnoticed. Fortunately, each hair follicle follows its own unique cycle so you will not experience patches of hair loss when your hair is healthy. Furthermore, if you have normal hair growth, between 80-90% of the hairs on your head are constantly in the anagen phase. However, this balance becomes disrupted if you have male or female pattern baldness. Minoxidil is thought to prolong the anagen phase of hair growth, which makes your hair look and feel fuller.
How long does it take for me to see results from minoxidil?
Minoxidil begins working immediately upon first use. However, it can take several months to see noticeable changes in your hair. Minoxidil is thought to start a new and fresh anagen phase on all hair follicles. Because the anagen phase normally lasts 3-5 years, it can take time for you to see your hair grow, as much work is happening below the surface of your scalp to start a new follicle. Minoxidil works only as long as you use it. Therefore, when people stop using it, their hair shifts into catagen briefly before switching to telogen and falling out. Without sustaining the anagen phase, your hair is no longer encouraged to grow and you will see a return of hair thinning and baldness.
Most people do not see results for about six months of consistent use. Therefore, patience and consistent use are keys to treating hair thinning and baldness with minoxidil.
Minoxidil can cause shedding
Shedding is a common side effect of minoxidil, especially in the beginning. Indeed, this symptom can be alarming when your intent for using minoxidil is to treat hair loss. Minoxidil causes hair shedding because it starts a fresh anagen phase on your hair follicles. Therefore, many hairs can be expected to fall out when minoxidil is first used. However, note that shedding can be a common occurrence with any hair loss treatment.
Hair loss is already a concern for me. Are there other options?
Many people are wary of using minoxidil because it can cause more hair loss from shedding and it also has some serious side effects associated with its use. Since the discovery of minoxidil for hair loss treatment in the 1950s, there have been new products that can better treat hair thinning. Nanoxidil is a superior vasodilator to minoxidil and does not have any known side effects. First used in Spectral.DNC-N, Nanoxidil is proven to boost hair growth in both men and women with cutting edge nanosome technology. The 5% Nanoxidil topical solution in Spectral.DNC-N works with other active ingredients to restore hair growth without a greasy formula. Indeed, Spectral.DNC-N is a water-based formula that you spray on the affected area twice daily. Unlike minoxidil, Nanoxidil can treat a receding hairline. Nanoxidil works by:
- Opening cellular ion channels in the root of the hair follicle
- Providing antioxidants to enrich scalp health
- Suppressing dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes hair loss
- Preventing perifollicular fibrosis (this is caused by androgenic alopecia, which is the medical term for the genetic condition for male and female hair loss)
- Prolonging the anagen phase of hair growth
- Blocking chronic inflammation
- Increasing the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, which help hair grow
- Suppressing protein-kinase-C isozymes which tell hair growth to stop
Treatment for hair loss does not have to be accompanied by unpleasant side effects including shedding, although again, shedding may happen with any start to a new hair loss treatment like Spectral.DNC-N. Modern treatment options employ the latest knowledge about hair growth and the most advanced technology for safe, effective, and lasting results. Shop the entire collection of Nanoxidil products in the Spectral.DNC-N line from DS Laboratories to restore your luscious locks without increasing shedding.