BEFORE WE BEGIN...
The information provided in this article is for information purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please read our disclaimer at the bottom of this page for more information.
Medically Reviewed by Professor V. Jolliffe
WHAT IS MINOXIDIL?
Minoxidil is a treatment licensed for the use of treating hair loss in men and women. It started life as a treatment for high blood pressure and during treatment trials for Minoxidil in the late 1960s researchers first noticed that the drug was also showing signs of being able to cause hair growth.
The drug was then formulated as a topical application and first launched as Regaine Topical Solution 2% in the UK in 1988. Initially it was licensed only for male hair loss but in 1990 the drug's licence was extended to women with hair loss. Minoxidil was subsequently released as the first FDA-approved medication to treat hair loss.
Minoxidil is considered one of the two most effective medicines for the treatment of hair loss. A 48 week study of ‘Regaine for Men Extra Strength Scalp Solution 5% concluded 60% of men on the trial using Minoxidil experienced increased hair coverage. A similar 48 week study on their 2% version for women showed that daily use of Minoxidil stabilised hair loss in 88% of participants (study available at www.medicines.org.uk).
Nowadays, Minoxidil-based products are typically available as liquid or foam scalp applications and although Minoxidil can be used by both men and women, there are different products specifically designed for each.
WHAT VERSIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are 2 strengths commercially available 2% and 5%. Whilst 5% is more efficacious, some individuals find the higher strength may cause some fine hair on the face and prefer the 2% for this reason.
Olsen et al in 2002 by Dr Olsen published a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology which concluded that, after 48 weeks of therapy, the participants who used 5% topical Minoxidil showed significantly superior results than those using 2% topical Minoxidil. The 5% group experiences 45% more regrowth at week 48, along with an earlier response time to the treatment.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MINOXIDIL FOAM AND LIQUID?
Many users find the 5% foam easier to use (Olsen 2007 - Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology) and there is less likelihood of scalp irritation with foam as it does not contain the preservative propylene glycol (used in the liquid forma) which can occasionally cause scalp irritation. On the other hand, the dropper applicator for the liquid allows for more precise application and is preferred by others for this reason.
HOW DOES MINOXIDIL WORK?
Whilst the exact mechanism of action is unclear, it is believed that Minoxidil works by increasing the blood flow and nutrient supply to the hair follicles, in turn stimulating and prolonging hair growth.
In Patterned Hair Loss (Androgenetic Alopecia), the hair follicles shrink and become dormant over time, reducing the active growth phase of the hair follicles and resulting in finer thinner hair. Minoxidil aims to stop this hair follicle shrinkage and reverse its effects by helping extend the active growth phase, keeping each hair growing for a longer period of time.
This then leads to added thickness and volume as a result of more follicles being in active growth phase.
As mentioned above, Minoxidil products are available without a prescription over the counter in a liquid or foam form containing either a 5 % or 2% concentration. Minoxidil is not available on the NHS.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WORK?
Typically results are seen at 6 months but in some individuals it may take 1 year of continuous use for the benefits to be apparent, whilst in others improvement may be seen as early as 8 weeks.
ANY POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS?
Minoxidil is a treatment which has been used safely for a number of years but as with any medication there are potential side effects for some users.
Firstly, many Minoxidil users experience an increase in their hair loss initially as the drug starts to synchronise with their hair cycle. Due to the way in which Minoxidil is believed to work (inducing an early anagen phase) this means that more hair follicles are likely to go through the telogen phase quicker and fall out so they enter the growth phase again.
During this period of shedding, and over the coming months while awaiting the effects of Minoxidil, Nanogen Hair Fibres provide the perfect cosmetic solution by instantly creating density and boosting the appearance of a thicker, fuller hair. It is perfectly safe to use both together - in fact it is the ideal solution to give an instant boost.
The following are also reported as possible adverse effect;
- Skin irritation: Erythema, discomfort and a burning sensation
- Scaly changes of the scalp: Irritation or exacerbation of seborrheic dermatitis
- Allergic contact dermatitis: Erythema, eczematous skin reaction, and pruritus. Propylene glycol, present in the liquid formulation may occasionally cause allergic contact dermatitis. In these circumstances Minoxidil foam which does not contain propylene glycol is a sensible choice.
- Localized or generalized hypertrichosis (excess facial hair): This is more commonly seen with 5% Minoxidil strength and in individuals who are more prone to excess body hair generally.
You should contact your doctor right away if you experience any serious side effects after using Minoxidil, including:
- Sudden weight gain
- Breathing difficulties
- Swelling of the face, stomach, hands or ankles
- Dizziness or fainting
- Chest pains
- Rapid heartbeat
HOW CAN NANOGEN FIBRES HELP?
Nanogen Hair Fibres are fantastically helpful when used together alongside treatments such as Minoxidil. Our natural fibres are the ideal product to help cover the thinning area while Minoxidil synchronises with your hair cycle and over the following months while it begins to take effect. In fact many people enjoy the benefits of Nanogen Hair Fibres so much that they continue using them in the longer term, to maximise fullness and give their hair-and their confidence - an instant boost.
Minoxidil is a good treatment for thickening hair for most people. It is important to realise that it takes several months to show its effects and that it needs to be used regularly to be effective.
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While our aim is to provide you with uptodate and relevant information, drugs affect each person differently. As such we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects and this information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss treatment options and possible side effects with a healthcare professional who knows your specific medical history.