Minoxidil (Rogaine) Part 2: Pros, Cons, and Side Effects

Wed 12 Jul 2006

This is Part 2 in a three part series. Before reading on you will want to read Part 1.

Pros

  • Since minoxidil is essentially a growth stimulator, its advantages are pretty apparent. It can help the user to grow hair and thicken existing hair to a more healthy state. It also keeps hair in the anagen (or growing) phase longer. Naturally, the shorter amount of time that they individual has been thinning generally equates to better results.
  • It is easily found in drug stores, grocery stores, and large department stores every where for a reasonable cost (bought in bulk, some generics can bring the cost down to around $10 a month).
  • Minoxidil takes only a few minutes to apply per day, and is only applied twice per day. In the last 10 or so years, it has become something of a staple in the hair loss sufferer’s hair regrowth regimen.
  • Another large positive for minoxidil is that, unlike internal DHT-inhibitors (such as Propecia or Avodart), minoxidil does not interfere in any way with hormones. Since the long-term side-effects of limiting DHT are relatively unknown, many hair loss sufferers take comfort in the fact that there is an alternative out there in minoxidil.

Cons and Side Effects

  • It has been observed since its inception that minoxidil is not quite the miracle cure that many had hoped it to be. For example, users that have bald spots that have been barren for quite some time, minoxidil can be next to useless. Results can even range from dismal to moderate for guys that only started thinning in recent years. There are always exceptions, of course. Some get tremendous amounts of regrowth by remaining diligent in applying the lotion. Additionally, minoxidil does not actually stop thinning; it simply slows down the process a bit.
  • Shedding can also occur when first starting to use minoxidil. This is temporary and should only last a few months. However, if scalp irritation, flaking, or peeling occurs, the user should stop immediately and consult a physician, preferably a dermatologist. The makers of Rogaine report that only about 6% of users experience this side effect.
  • Minoxidil in its store-bought form is a mixture of alcohol (ethynol), propylene glycol (PPG), and water. The alcohol can cause irritation for those who have sensitive scalps. It is recommended that users start with the 2% concentration to allow their scalps to adjust to the medication before moving up. Minor scalp irritation can usually be alleviated with over-the-counter medicinal shampoos such as Neutrogena T-Gel and/or Nizoral AD. The prescription strength Nizoral (2% ketoconazole) is also good for this purpose.
  • The key to minoxidil is diligence. It must be applied twice per day every day for as long as the user wishes to keep the benefits that it gives. If one does decide to stop using the drug after it has helped to regrow previously lost hair, that hair will shed to the point that the user is at the point he was at previously – maybe even worse. There is still a question as to whether hair that was already there, meaning hair that had not thinned previous to using minoxidil, becomes dependant on the drug. Many speculate that the surrounding hair can, indeed, become dependant on minoxidil, thus discontinuing its use can lead to harming that hair as well as any hair grown as a result of application.
  • Minoxidil is only marketed and approved for use on the crown and vertex of the scalp. This means that there is no official endorsement that it will have any effect at the hairline. Accounts vary, but some users have reported moderate hair regrowth at the hairline and temporal regions, but this is data that has not be studied in any official capacity.

In Short:

Pros

  • FDA approved
  • Easily Obtainable
  • Inexpensive
  • Side effects usually not serious

Cons

  • Greasy
  • Can irritate sensitive skin
  • Initial shedding can occur
  • Continued use is necessary to keep benefits
  • Only claimed to be effective at the crown and vertex


Next: Minoxidil (Rogaine) Part 3: It’s Function and Bottom Line

-Robert

Editor of the Hair Loss Q & A Blog.

View my Hair Loss Weblog

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10 Comments so far:

  1. sandy lewin says:

    YOU SAY MY HAIR WILL BE GREASY LOOKING,HOW IS THAT GIONG TO LOOK WHEN I GO OUT WITH MY HUSBAND. THANK YOU SANDY

  2. Sandy,

    Because everyone has different hair texture and scalp conditions, it’s difficult to say what effect Rogaine foam will have on making your hair appear greasy and how much. If you are considering this treatment, you could always try it out and see how it looks. If you find it makes your hair too greasy, you could consider using it once daily at night before you go to sleep. While it’s recommended to take twice daily, I know people who’ve had success with it using it only once a day.

    Best wishes,

    Bill Seemiller
    Managing Publisher of this Community

  3. Brian says:

    What is the long term side effects of using Rogaine? say maybe 5 to 10 years down the line of consistently using it. Will it trigger growth of cancerous cells ?

  4. David (TakingThePlunge) says:

    Brian,

    The side effects of Rogaine tend to be very mild and include scalp irritation and increased body or facial hair.

    Rogaine (minoxidil) has been in use as a treatment for hair loss since 1988 with millions of men and women worldwide using it daily. In all of the research and patient experiences I’ve read, I’ve never heard of Rogaine being associated with causing cancer of any kind.

    However, I recommend consulting your physician before starting any medical treatment.

    David (TakingThePlunge)

  5. Tom says:

    I am experiencing good results with monoxidil 5% alone 1 ml daily as I had diffused thinning and hair loss.I had been using it for 3 months now. Can i just stay on minoxidil and hope that the hair that i have now will be maintained for long term like 5 years or so.

  6. Jerry says:

    The best treatment method without much side effects may be to use Minoxidil 5%, Nizoral 1% or 2% 3 times a week (as a mild DHT blocker)plus Zinc tablets (Consult doctor). Even if the problem exists, the better way is to go for a hair transplant. Saw Plamotto, HairMax laser comb etc seem not much success.

  7. Wayne says:

    I tried Regain (a 2% Minoxidil topical solution) as it was then called in the early 80s. You had to get it on prescription then. I was in my early 20s and concerned about my receding hairline around the front and temples. After religiously taking it for twelve months it did create significant growth around my hairline. New hairs were about an inch long. I continued with it, but to my sheer disappointment found it no longer worked after a year.

    You guys need to know that if it does work for you, it’s only temporary. I hate the way it’s being marketed today without you knowing this. I cannot help but feel it’s just another rip off scam.

  8. David aka - TakingthePlunge says:

    Wayne,

    I’m sorry to hear that the benefits you saw from Rogaine were so temporary. However, be aware that Rogaine has never been marketed as a hair loss cure. There is no cure for hair loss. There are only treatments.

    For some guys, non-surgical treatments like Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) work for many years to not only slow the progress of further hair loss but also regrow hair that has already been lost.

    In some cases, the effects of androgenic alopecia are simply too strong and balding continues or resumes after a short period of time.

    At best, these products only buy us some time. But, they are currently the best non-surgical options available for treating pattern baldness.

    David

  9. Prahash says:

    Minoxidil topical solution upt 5% i used some result is there same time i am suffering from multi granular goiter swelling of thyroid gland.

  10. Been using Rogaine for 10+ years, originally as 2% then 5% Brand, now 5% generics OTC (CVS,Costco, etc.). The benefit has been complete regrowth/elimination of 3′ diameter bald spot, and about 75% regrowth of frontal hair, which supposedly does not regrow, but did on me. Maintenance is 4-6 applications per week, does not require “14 = 2x per day” uses per week. Have had same hairdresser for 12+ years, who can attest to this claim. She cuts my hair every 3-4 weeks, and colors away grey every 6-8 weeks. The few times she has mentioned that my hair looks thin, I increase use and my hair responds by the next visit.

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