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Minoxidil

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is one of the first FDA approved medication that is used to treat hair loss. It is marketed under the name Rogaine and in some geographical areas, Regaine. Minoxidil is a topical solution that is applied directly onto the scalp. Nowadays, it is available over the counter both as Rogaine and as a generic monixidil solution. It generally includes a 5% concentration for men and 2 percent for women. Rogaine is also available as 5 percent topical foam; some people have found is less greasy and easier to apply.

Oral minoxidil was originally used for treating high blood pressure only. Nonetheless, health care providers and patients noticed that hair growth was an unknown side effect of treatment, which led to the development of a topical for the treatment of male-pattern baldness (MPB). The exact chemical process of action leading to hair growth is undiscovered, and the precise way that this medicine works has not been discovered yet.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Minoxidil is used to stimulate hair growth in adult men and women with a certain type of baldness. It is most effective for people under 40 years of age with recent hair loss. Minoxidil has no effects on receding hairlines and it does not cure baldness. After the drug is stopped, most new hair is lost within a few months.

How effective is minoxidil or Rogaine for hair growth?

The exact science that results in hair growth from Minoxidil is not known. Some experts believe that minoxidil dilates the blood vessels around hair follicles; therefore, increasing the nutrient supply and encouraging increased hair growth. However; this is still an unproven theory, especially as other vasodilator drugs do not seem to encourage hair growth.

Another theory is that topical Minoxidil causes a substantial increase in DNA synthesis in hair follicle cells. Minoxidil is a stable and inactive drug. When applied to the scalp and absorbed into the skin it is converted to an active, unstable product called 'Minoxidil Sulphite'. Our bodies produce a catalyst called sulfonyl transferase that converts the inactive Minoxidil into the unstable active Minoxidil Sulphite. Minoxidil sulphite activates potassium channels in cells and this is thought to lead to hair growth.

Minoxidil works on any area where there is fine or miniaturized hair. Earlier studies on minoxidil focused on the crown of the head, giving the judgment that it only works on these areas. Still, it does not work on completely bald areas.

The greatest benefit from using minoxidil will be noticeable between 6 months to 2 years from the start of the treatment. After that, you will possibly see the efficacy fading steadily. You are expected to lose hair, but at a slower rate than if you are not on this medication.

Anticipate the condition of your hair to regress to its original pattern within 3 months if you stop using minoxidil. Starting and stopping is not advised as the following hair growth is not expected to be as strong as the earlier phase before you stopped.

How should this medicine be used?

Minoxidil comes as a liquid, which needs to be applied directly to the scalp. It is usually used twice a day.

Anyone intending to use minoxidil should follow the directions on the package or prescription label carefully, and ask their doctor or pharmacist to explain any part they do not understand. Minoxidil should be used exactly as directed.

Exceeding the recommended dosage does not produce greater or faster hair growth and may cause increased side effects. Minoxidil must be used for at least 4 months, and possibly for up to 1 year, before any effects become visible.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Like most other drugs there can be side effects from the use of Minoxidil. Having treated tens of thousands of men and women, The Belgravia Centre have projected less than one in one hundred (1%) incidents of side effects from the use of Minoxidil. The side effects that did occur from Minoxidil ranged from mild facial hair growth, headaches, rashes and palpitations. All were mild and needed no medical treatment. They either faded in a short time throughout use of Minoxidil, or soon after stopping use of Minoxidil.

OTHER SIDE EFFECTS: Adverse reactions include irritation of the skin, itching, contact dermatitis, and dryness of the scalp or flaking. An increase in the absorption of minoxidil from the scalp can occur in patients with damaged skin, leading to increased side effects. Minoxidil's contains alcohol that can irritate the eyes. In case of accidental contact with eyes or other sensitive areas, the exposed area should be washed with cool water. WARNING: Minoxidil may cause serious heart problems or worsen chest pain (angina). Therefore, this medication is only used when other treatments have not worked well or cannot be taken.

minoxidil through to using dutasteride - photo showing effects Above you can see the difference in hair count between me (right) and my twin brother (left). My twin started off by using Minoxidil before he eventually persisted with Dutasteride since late 2004 to block DHT from forming in his scalp; I only started using it in January 2010 - more photos.

Medical experts have also found that treatment for male pattern hair loss can be further enhanced by combining the use of Minoxidil with Finasteride, which is the most recent clinically proven and medically approved drug for hair loss. Courses consisting primarily of Minoxidil and Propecia are the most popular and successful treatment combinations prescribed at the Belgravia Centre. Click on the link to find all you need to know about Propecia.

References

  1. American Hair Loss Association | Women's Hair Loss / Causes of Hair Loss
  2. Bingham KD, Shaw DA. - The metabolism of testosterone by human male scalp skin. J Endocrinol. 1973 Apr;57(1):111-121.
  3. HAMILTON JB. - Patterned loss of hair in man; types and incidence. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1951 Mar;53(3):708-728.
  4. Jenkins JS, Ash S. - The metabolism of testosterone by human skin in disorders of hair growth. J Endocrinol. 1973 Nov;59(2):345-351.
  5. Naito A, Sato T, Matsumoto T, Takeyama K, Yoshino T, Kato S, Ohdera M. Br J Dermatol 2008; 159 (2) - Dihydrotestosterone inhibits murine hairgrowth via the androgen receptor. Epublic med Jun 28
  6. Walsh PC, Hutchins GM, Ewing LL. - Tissue content of dihydrotestosterone in human prostatic hyperplasis is not supranormal. J Clin Invest. 1983 Nov;72(5):1772-1777.