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Minoxidil Side effects I Dermatologist reveal the truth

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Minoxidil Side effects I Dermatologist reveal the truth

Doctor, What are minoxidil side effects? How should I put minoxidil lotion on my scalp? I have been using minoxidil for years; should I stop it now?”

I prescribe minoxidil routinely in my clinic. The first question that my patients ask is about Minoxidil’s side effects. Somehow internet is loaded with so many side effects that patients are skeptical about using it. However, in the last 15 years of prescribing Minoxidil, I have rarely encountered any severe side effects.

Minoxidil is the best choice for inducing hair growth, especially in Male and Female pattern hair loss. But the tragic part is that it does not stop hair loss. Therefore, it is critical to remove the cause of hair loss along with consuming a hair regrowth diet and vitamins. 

How does minoxidil work?

Studies show that minoxidil increases hair growth by the following proposed mechanisms:

  • Minoxidil accelerates the shedding of hair in the resting stage (telogen) and initiates the growth of new hair (anagen) in that follicle.  This is why you might experience increased hair fall in the beginning with Minoxidil.
  • It increases the duration of growth or Anagen stage so that hairs get longer and thicker on the application of minoxidil.
  • It increases the blood flow to the hair roots by dilating the blood vessels.

Can I use Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is available OTC in the United States with the name of Rogaine. You can begin minoxidil without a prescription if you have Male pattern hair loss.

However, you should consult a dermatologist before stating Minoxidil for the following conditions:

  • Female pattern hair loss
  • Diffuse hair loss
  • Chemotherapy-induced hair loss
  • Alopecia areata

How should I apply Minoxidil to my scalp?

While most companies advocate the use of a dropper or spray to apply Monxidil, we at our clinic recommend using the fingertip method as shown in the video given below:

I always tell my patients with male pattern hair loss that they are wedded to minoxidil. Therefore, the correct usage is paramount, as discussed below:

Use twice a day: Minoxidil should be used twice daily for maximum results. Once you achieve maximum results, then you might shift to once a day, especially in females.

Measure 1 ml: You can measure 1 ml of minoxidil with the dropper provided with a bottle. In the case of a spray bottle, use five sprays. You can exceed 1 ml in use of the large bald area. However, more than 1 ml of minoxidil might cause headaches in certain cases.

Apply on dry hair: Minoxidil should not be put on oily or wet hair. If you have taken a head bath, towel dry your hair before applying Minoxidil. Do not blow-dry to accelerate the drying of the minoxidil solution.

Put oil after 1 hour of minoxidil: If you wish to oil your hair, you should wait for 30-60 minutes until minoxidil gets absorbed completely.

Put on hair roots: Make sure the medicine is applied to the scalp to reach the hair roots.

Start from the bald area: Apply the minoxidil solution to the bald area first and spread it to its periphery.

Wash your hair for 3-4 hours: You can wash your hair after 4 hours of applying Minoxidil.

Wash your hands: Wash your hands after using minoxidil to avoid accidental medication transfer on other body parts.

When can I see hair regrowth after using minoxidil?

Studies show that Minoxidil takes time to work. I have summarised the effect below:

First 1-2 month- Slight increase in hair fall might occur because minoxidil cause dead hair to fall off and then induces new hair growth in that empty hair follicle.

3-6 months- At around three months, hair re-growth begins, which is evident as small fine hair that grows thicker and longer.

6-12 months: In this period, hair growth in length and density gives better coverage.

After 12 months: You should continue to apply minoxidil if you have Androgenetic alopecia or Female pattern hair loss to sustain your growth.

When can I stop Minoxidil?

Minoxidil can be stopped in the case of Telogen Effluvium and alopecia areata after consulting your dermatologist.

You should not stop Minoxidil in Male and Female pattern baldness because the hair loss will start again. I have explained this further in the video given below:

What are Minoxidil’s side effects?

Minoxidil has the following side effects:

  • Local side effects: You might experience tingling, burning, redness, or irritation on applying Minoxidil. However, the most patient develops tolerance after continued use.
  • Systemic side effect: A headache is common on using Minoxidil. If headache is persistent, the lotion might have to be stopped.

Can I start using Rogaine without consulting a doctor?

Ideally, a doctor’s consult should be taken before starting the Rogaine, but here is the list of precautions you need to be aware of:

  • Do not self-medicate if you are a heart patient.
  • Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Discontinue use and report to your doctor immediately if you experience any systemic effects, including a headache, flushing, dizziness, fatigue, rash, etc.
  • If you are on anti-hypertensive, watch your blood pressure after starting Rogaine.
  • Do not start if the cause of hair fall is not determined.
  • Do not start if you do not have the patience to stick with treatment for at least a year, and remember your hair loss will revert if you stop the medicine at any time.


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