Before it was marketed as a topical hair loss solution, Minoxidil oral pills were in use for decades for the treatment of high blood pressure. During this time, one of the offshoots or ‘side effects’ noticed was that the use of the medication stimulated hair growth and reversed male pattern baldness to some degree.
This prompted UpJohn Corp. in the 1980’s to come up with a topical hair growth formula named Rogaine, which used Minoxidil as its chief compound. The initial formula used 2% concentration of Minoxidil. Subsequently in the 1990’s, the stronger Minoxidil 5% formulation was introduced and the Minoxidil Shampoo is currently available in both 2% and 5% variants and can be bought over the counter.
How Does It Work?
It is not known exactly how Minoxidil encourages hair growth. Since Minoxidil is a vasodilator, it is believed that it increases the blood flow into the hair follicles and thereby strengthens the existing hair as well as helps grow new hair. In the medical jargon, hair loss is referred to as androgenetic alopecia and one of the common medications used to prevent male pattern hair loss is Propecia. Now, we do know for certain that Propecia works by affecting the levels of DHT. However, this is not the case with Minoxidil and we are yet to find any definite answer to how it affects hair growth.
How Effective is Minoxidil?
Before you start using Minoxidil, you must remember that the product encourages hair growth in the crown or vertex area of the scalp and won’t normally be of any help for receding hairlines. That said, in a more than few doctors’ experience, patients have indeed managed to obtain hair growth in the frontal section of the scalp. However, this appears to be more of an exception, so you are better advised to not use Minoxidil to treat a receding hairline.
As for its effectiveness, many patients have found that they have managed to maintain their hair even if they have not experienced growth of new hair. Keep this in mind, too, that although brands often advertise that you can start to observe results after 4-6 months of using, often the full results of using the product cannot be gauged before it has been used for at least a year. Also, Minoxidil is not a cure which means that if you stop using the product, you are likely to lose any hair that were gained during the treatment within a few months of stopping the medication.
Who should Use Minoxidil?
Numerous studies show that Minoxidil helps hair growth both in men and women. So, Minoxidil shampoo is okay for use for members of both genders. Ideally, Minoxidil works best for individuals who have only began to grow bald in the crown area. However, nursing or pregnant women or individuals with a history of hypersensitivity are strongly advised to not use the medication.