When you look for hair loss treatments, one that you’ll find is Minoxidil. This is commonly known as Rogaine, which is simply the brand name. It’s one of the few over-the-counter hair loss treatments FDA approved.
Minoxidil is one of the best hair loss treatments, especially for balding around the temples and crown. It’s also suitable for frontal baldness, as long as it’s used in the early stages.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Most hair loss is caused by something called DHT. This hormone is made when testosterone combines with another hormone dubbed 5AR. DHT spreads throughout the body and attaches to androgen receptors.
Since most of the androgen receptors are in your hair follicles, this means that the DHT builds up here. This buildup of DHT cuts off the blood flow that your hair needs to grow, especially around the temples and crown of your head. This is where your scalp has the most androgen receptors.
How Does Minoxidil Work?
Like some other hair loss treatments, Minoxidil works by preventing your body from making too much 5AR. This way, the DHT doesn’t have a chance to form, so it can’t build up around your hair follicles.
However, this option only does a little blocking. Instead, it focuses on increasing the circulation to your scalp. This encourages new hair growth in that area. It also helps your body eliminate any buildup of DHT that might already be there, allowing your hair to grow back in places where it may have stopped. It also thickens the hair follicles on your scalp.
There are two main things to make a note of. The first is that this product can work even better on the crown of your head, where there are more hair follicles. The second is that you have to have hair follicles in a particular area for Minoxidil to work.
If your hair follicles are damaged for some reason, or if you’ve been bald for a long time, then this may not help.
Pros And Cons
One pro is that Minoxidil has a comparatively high rate of success. This is a benefit and something to keep in mind when choosing any hair loss treatment. However, this is simple compared to other treatments.
All in all, only around half of the people who try Minoxidil get the effects that they’re looking for. This is more than any other treatment, but it still means that it may not work for you. Also, the results tend to peak around a year or more into taking it. The results do continue but gradually taper down for another few years.
Another benefit is that it’s relatively inexpensive to buy Minoxidil. That means it’s easy for the average person to afford when needed.
On the downside, it can be a little on the greasy side when you apply it. If you already struggle with oily hair, this will add to it. Finally, Minoxidil is something that will only work as long as you’re taking it.
This means that if you stop taking it at any point, you’ll start to lose your hair again. Since many people don’t want to take it for the rest of their lives, it can make sense to go with something else you only have to take for a set amount of time.
Possible Side Effects
While this option does have fewer side effects than many of the other hair loss treatments available, it does have some you should know about. Initially, Minoxidil was not created for hair loss. It was invented to be a vasodilator and encourage blood flow.
One of the potential side effects is weight gain. Since you have to take it on a more permanent basis, this can make it much harder to lose weight if you are trying to do so. If you gain too much extra weight, it’s unhealthy for your body.
Most of the common side effects are milder than weight gain. These include itchiness and redness in the area you applied it, light dizziness, light-headedness, frequent headaches, flaking of your scalp, and general irritation of the site.
There are a couple of slightly more serious side effects. If you experience any of these, consult your doctor. They include heart palpitations, chest pains, or dizziness. Your doctor may consider switching you to something else.
You should also be aware that Minoxidil can sometimes cause hair growth to increase in nearby areas besides where you apply it. Most of the time, this is facial hair.
This can be great if you’re a guy and don’t mind shaving more often or are trying to grow a beard. However, facial hair growth may be upsetting if you are a woman.
How To Use Minoxidil
There are three different forms that you can get Minoxidil in cream, liquid, and foam. Any one of these can work for you. However, as a general rule, the liquid is easier to work into your scalp and in areas with a bit of hair.
The foam is better suited to areas that don’t have any hair at all to them. This is because the foam can get stuck on your hair. It tends to be harder to rub in all the way. On the other hand, it also means that it sticks more to your scalp instead of running off as quickly as the liquid option does.
For this same reason, the cream is also best to use in areas with little hair. This option can stay in place longer than even the foam can. However, this can be slightly harder to find than the other two options, which are more popular.
You should be aware that some people react to one of the common inactive ingredients in the liquid form. Watch for this, and switch to one of the other two options if you respond.
All three options are applied topically to the area where you want to grow hair. It’s usually recommended that you use them twice a day, no more and no less, for the best results.
Minoxidil is an excellent option if you’re looking for a hair loss treatment. As mentioned, Rogaine is the most popular brand name, but you should know store brands. If you are looking at this solution, you’ll want to check the active ingredients to ensure they’re the same.
While Minoxidil is undoubtedly one of the most popular hair loss treatments, and for a good reason, there are several other treatments out there as well. Propecia is another one you’ve probably heard of, though it has more side effects and has to be prescribed by a doctor.
Nizoral shampoo is another popular choice. It’s one of the three most common treatments. Finally, Nioxin is another one you should consider. While this last one may not work as well, it is full of minerals that will help build up your hair if you are deficient.
Before using anything for hair loss, talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s safe to try a specific treatment or even give you tips so that you can get the most out of it.
Finally, keep in mind that your body makes 5AR and DHT for a reason. Therefore, inhibiting these two things will have some residual side effects. However, it inhibits them and focuses on encouraging blood flow helps lessen the side effects.