The Good, The Bad & The Ugly About Minoxidil?

Healthy, thick, and voluminous hair is everyone’s dream, regardless of gender. But with hair loss, many are unable to enjoy healthy grown hair. Hair loss is a very common problem seen in almost every individual as there are many causing factors available. But you don’t have to worry, as this article is a detailed guide to an ideal solution (minoxidil) for hair loss, including its benefits, uses, and side effects. Read on to find more.

Meet the expert

Dr. Reena Jogi is a dermatologist who specializes in PRP Hair Restoration in Houston, Texas.


What Is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved and over-the-counter drug effectively used for hair loss, especially Androgenetic Alopecia. It was first introduced mainly for high blood pressure, but further studies and development led to its usage for hair loss [1].

Minoxidil helps stimulate the growth of hair and encourages follicular regeneration. Even though it is 60% effective, but still, the results are not permanent. Therefore, the individual must continue its usage till the regrowth of hair [2].

It also helps in improving thin, damaged hair and encourages volume. But some side effects come with minoxidil as well.

How Does Minoxidil Work?

There are three phases of the hair growth cycle:

  • Growth phase - Anagen
  • Transitional phase - Catagen
  • Resting phase - Telogen

Hair loss affects the telogen phase of the hair cycle, which results in thinning of scalp hair and eventually damage and loss in quantity of hair. The application of minoxidil foam on the scalp allows the drug to penetrate and facilitates dry activity.

This leads to decreasing scalp irritation and increased regeneration of new hair. The human scalp contains an enzyme called sulfotransferase, which is responsible for converting minoxidil into a salt known as minoxidil sulfate [3].

This salt then works on shortening the affected Telogen phase of the cycle just so the hair growth is enabled and encouraged. It also stimulates the thickness of hair and adds volume. The results usually appear after eight weeks of application.

How To Apply Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is available in two forms, a liquid solution, and a foam. It should be applied twice a day, and the person has to make sure that his/her scalp is dry and clean before application.

Before application, read all the written instructions carefully, including the dosage and dose. Exceeding the prescribed dose can result in some serious side effects. Minoxidil can be applied by using a spray or a pipette.

To apply Minoxidil, keep in mind the following things:

  • Keep your scalp dry and clean prior to application.
  • Apply the prescribed amount on the instructed sites.
  • Avoid using shampoo for four hours after applying.
  • Wash your hands immediately after applying minoxidil.
  • Make sure minoxidil does not get in contact with other parts of the body.

If your scalp has any kind of sunburn or is irritated, consult your doctor. Make sure to keep it away from other body parts and not ingest it. If Minoxidil gets in contact with the eyes, thoroughly wash the area with cold water.

How Long Does It Take For The Results?

Minoxidil takes significant time to be effective. The results usually appear after six weeks of application (about 3-4 months). Stay consistent and apply it daily. The results of Minoxidil depend upon the hair growth cycle, which is why it takes time. Since results are temporary, the effects will disappear once you stop using Minoxidil.

Benefits Of Minoxidil:

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved product; this makes it trustworthy and safe to use. Following are the benefits of Minoxidil [1]:

1. Reduces Hair Loss:

Minoxidil encourages blood circulation towards the scalp, thus slowing down hair loss to a great extent. It also increases the supply of nutrients as well as oxygen to the scalp.

2. Stimulates Hair Follicles:

Minoxidil salt shortens the Telogen phase of the hair growth cycle and helps in encouraging the hair follicles to grow more hair.

3. Lengthens the Anagen Phase:

It helps lengthen the anagen phase of the hair cycle resulting in increased hair growth.

Apart from these, other amazing benefits offered by Minoxidil are:

  • Causes thickness of the hair
  • Promising results in 4 months in women and 2-4 months in men.

Side Effects Of Minoxidil:

Minoxidil comes with a list of side effects that may or may not occur depending upon the individual. If any of the following side effects occur, they will require immediate medical attention. The following are some rare and common side effects associated with Minoxidil:


  • Acne at the application site
  • Scalp burning
  • Facial hair growth
  • Increase in loss of hair
  • Scalp inflammation
  • Redness on the scalp
  • Face swelling

The following enlisted symptoms can occur when the dose of minoxidil is higher than prescribed:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Numbness in feet and fingers
  • Lightheadedness
  • Eczema

Common Symptom:

  • Itching

Who Is Not Suitable For Minoxidil?

Even though Minoxidil works for both men and women but there are certain solutions of Minoxidil that are specifically designed for men. Therefore such solutions shouldn’t be used by women.

Pregnant women should not use minoxidil as it can harm the baby. Even breastfeeding women should not use Minoxidil as it can enter the breast milk and can endanger the baby. People suffering from chronic conditions and cardiac patients should not use it at all.

People with sunburned and irritated scalp should not use Minoxidil and should consult their doctor first.

Although minoxidil is an over-the-counter drug, it is extremely crucial to consult a physician before using it and to let them know every minor detail of yourself. In case of any side effects, immediately consult a doctor. Monitor your health and state during the application period and inform all documented changes.


Hair loss is a commonly occurring concern of many individuals. Minoxidil is an ideal solution for hair loss, but it also comes with many side effects. It has shown effective results in treating significant hair loss among many individuals but is temporary.

Even though minoxidil is an over-the-counter drug, it should be taken after consulting a physician. Thus alleviate hair loss with minoxidil but with some precautionary measures!

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