What is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Regaine/Rogaine) was originally an oral medication used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) — but was also found to encourage hair growth on the face, body and scalp. This subsequently led to its topical use in treating hair loss. Minoxidil is applied topically to your scalp as a lotion or foam and may be recommended for use by both women and men.
What Does Minoxidil Do?
Minoxidil is a vasodilator, which means it dilates (widens) your blood capillaries at the site of application. Whilst its exact mode of action is still not fully understood, Minoxidil works by decreasing the amount of time hair follicles spend in a resting (telogen) phase, as well as prolonging the time follicles spend actively growing (the anagen phase). It can also help to promote growth from dormant (kenogen) follicles, but it is important to note that Minoxidil is only effective whilst being continually used — meaning treatment must remain ongoing to maintain any results.
Minoxidil does not tackle the main cause of hair thinning — a genetic sensitivity in your hair follicles to the androgens (male hormones) testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — which is why, at Philip Kingsley, we find it is most successful when used in combination with oral hair loss medication Finasteride to block the effects of androgens on your follicles.
Dosage of Minoxidil
Minoxidil is available over the counter in pharmacies and is applied to the scalp once or twice a day, in the form of a lotion or foam in varying percentages up to 5%. Due to the timing of the hair growth cycle, first results should be seen after four months.
Side Effects of Minoxidil
Possible side effects include, but are not limited to:
- Flaking or itching at the site of application (contact dermatitis)
- Unwanted hair growth on the face or body
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