Minoxidil is a commonly used over the counter treatment for hair loss in men suffering from male pattern baldness. It is said to not only stop hair loss, but also to help hair regrowth after 3 to 6 months' use. Despite its prevalence in the hair loss market, Minoxidil still faces several issues and problems thanks to a variety of issues that date back to the original discovery on Minoxidil.
History of Minoxidil
Minoxidil was originally developed to treat ulcers in the 1950s. Clinical trials in dogs found that that Minoxidil did not cure ulcers, but it proved to be a powerful vasodilator. Upjohn (the company that developed Minoxidil) received permission from the FDA to test Minoxidil to treat hypertension.
Dr. Charles A. Chidsey M.D., headed two studies which showed unexpected hair growth while using the drug. After years of research, the FDA finally proved the use of Minoxidil under the brand name "Rogaine." It was only originally approved for men and the FDA concluded that Rogaine would only be effective in about 40% of users. For users that did not see results within the first several months of usage, continued usage seldom had any beneficial effect.
In 1996, the FDA finally approved the over the counter sale of Minoxidil and various generic formulations. As a response the FDA's actions, Upjohn lowered prices to half the price of the prescription drug and released a 5% formula in 1998. Minoxidil for women was also developed to counter female hair loss.
How It's Used
Minoxidil must be applied twice to the scalp daily, and it must be used indefinitely in order to facilitate the growth of existing hair follicles. To achieve maximum results, the manufacturer recommends the solution be in contact with the scalp for upwards of four hours before allowing hair to get wet.
While Minoxidil does stimulate hair growth, it does not stop the root cause of male hair loss - dihydrotestosterone. Therefore, when usage is stopped, most of the hair regrowth is lost once again.
Why Minoxidil is so Popular
Minoxidil is well liked by users because it's easy to use, delivers results (for the most part), and has been around for decades. Under the brand name Rogaine, Minoxidil is a drug that people can remember Rogaine's advertising campaigns on TV have certainly helped grow the brand and use of Minoxidil.
In addition, Minoxidil is the only FDA approved treatment for women with hair loss. It can be also be used by transplant patients, who typically have limited treatment options to regrow hair that has been transplanted.
Side Effects of Minoxidil
Minoxidil may be a popular treatment for hair loss, but it's far from perfect. Typically speaking, Minoxidil is tolerated well, but there are several reported side effects including burning or irritation of the eye, itching, redness, and unwanted hair growth on other hairs of the body.
In other cases, reports of temporary hair loss have occurred. The manufacturer reports this as a process called "shedding" and claims it is a common side effect that poses no further health risk.
In rare cases, severe allergic reactions, tightness in the chest, sudden or unexplained weight gain, dizziness, fainting, and swelling of the mouth, face lips, hands, or feet have occurred. In the event these side effects develop, Minoxidil users are warned to seek immediate medical attention.
For the most part, users see little to no side effects while taking Minoxidil. However, side effects can develop, and it's important that the risks are well known.
Besides Minoxidil, those suffering from hair loss have very limited options. Propecia targets the root cause of hair loss (DHT), but requires a prescription and comes with nasty side effects like sexual dysfunction, decreased libido, and more.
Natural solutions for hair loss have become a popular alternative to Minoxidil over the past few years, and a few have shown promising results. Natural solutions for hair loss may come in the form of a pill, shampoo, or foam, and they typically use a number of ingredients to both block DHT and to regrow hair.