Minoxidil (Rogaine) Part 2: Pros, Cons, and Side EffectsWed 12 Jul 2006
This is Part 2 in a three part series. Before reading on you will want to read Part 1.
- 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.
- FDA approved
- Easily Obtainable
- Side effects usually not serious
- May help spur growth of newly transplanted hair transplant grafts
- 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
Editor of the Hair Loss Q & A Blog.