What Is Minoxidil And Is It A Safe Hair Loss Treatment?

What Is Minoxidil And Is It A Safe Hair Loss Treatment?

There are always those things we are on the fence about. Even if there is no or little evidence that they are bad. Thanks to the internet all it takes is one keyword search to confirm your suspicions without having any verification. I swear every time I have a headache and I google it, I am told that it is almost definitely cancer. But thankfully, this is why we have doctors and medical studies that give us well-tested results.
But you’re wondering what are we talking about? It is none other than - Minoxidil and how it works to fix your hair loss. Are you thinking - finally something useful? Just kidding, we know you love all our blogs.
Anyway, so everyone who has androgenic alopecia or male/female pattern baldness has a love/hate relationship with Minoxidil. Why? Because there is just so much misinformation about Minoxidil that the perpetual question on everybody’s lips seems to be ‘What is Minoxidil and does it really help ?’ So we thought we should give you all the information once and for all. So here goes.

Minoxidil is a drug used to bring in hair growth in the treatment of male pattern baldness (MPB).  

Male pattern baldness is the reason why most men lose hair as they have follicles which are sensitive to  dihydrotestosterone (DHT). These follicles start to become smaller and this reduces the lifespan of each follicle affected. Eventually they stop producing follicles that are acceptable cosmetically.

Male pattern baldness usually starts with a receding hairline and hair loss from the crown, graduating to a condition of total baldness across the scalp. Quite a few are left with a horseshoe pattern of hair, though for some, even this part is affected.

Though Minoxidil is medically approved, this OTC product is to be used with caution. This is a 2% and 5% topical solution. One rarely does get a serious allergic reaction to this drug but if you experience any problem such as rashes, dizziness, itchiness or breathing problems, you will need to visit the doctor. It is therefore advisable to get your doctor’s advice before taking the medication. If you have any other allergies, you need to inform the doctor. The product might have inactive ingredients which might create problems. It is advisable not to use Minoxidil, if you are using any other chemical treatment for your hair or are applying hair dye. It should ideally not be used during pregnancy and female users should ideally consult a doctor before breastfeeding. Do NOT take the medicine if you have experienced an allergic reaction in the past, the next time could be fatal.

Patients suffering from renal problems or dialysis patients would need to be given smaller doses under strict medical supervision, to avoid complications.  This is because approximate 95% of the drug which is absorbed are flushed out through the kidney within 4 days.

The use of Minoxidil is usually fairly long term.  Applying the medicine twice daily has proved to be beneficial for various hair disorders. For best results it has to be taken as suggested. In fact, it can present  serious risks if not taken as prescribed by the doctor.

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a vasodilator. It is used extensively in the hair growth of people of both sexes suffering from androgenic alopecia. However its effect on people suffering from alopecia areata is not confirmed. Minoxidil has also been successfully used to treat disorders like scarring alopecia and hair shaft disorders. It has also been used to enhance hair growth in the eyebrows and beard. Despite being in use for over 3 decades, the mechanism of the way it functions is ambiguous  and still under research. In fact,  Minoxidil was not originally used to treat hair loss, this was just a side-effect. So you could very well ask - what was Minoxidil originally used for ? Minoxidil was originally brought in as an antihypertensive medicine, it was used for treating high blood pressure and during the process doctors noticed that hair growth was one of the unintended benefits. When the physicians observed generalized hypertrichosis in balding patients, a topical formulation for augmenting hair growth was developed. With the necessary modifications, the drug was subsequently employed as a potent drug to treat male pattern baldness. In 1986 the 2% Minoxidil solution was launched  and the 5% solution in 1993.

When Minoxidil was administered to a patient diagnosed with leukemia, the person witnessed an increase in hair growth in 6 weeks.

What is Minoxidil solution ?

Minoxidil solution and foam have been used with great success to treat male pattern baldness. It is also used to enhance hair growth for women with thinning hair.

What is a vasodilator?
For one, it is difficult to pronounce and spell. But for reals, it is a type of medication that opens or dilates blood vessels. They affect the muscles in the walls of your arteries and veins, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing. They help widen the blood vessels by relaxing the muscle cells within the walls, particularly the large veins, large arteries and smaller arterioles.  This helps increase the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients  and keeps the body running normally.

Uses

Okay, how does this help me?
Now you have a new scrabble word to use during Quarantine Scrabble. But when it comes to hair loss or severe hair thinning. Minoxidil is applied in the form of a serum or foam, it increases blood flow to your scalp. By increasing blood flow, more oxygen and nutrients are able to be transported into each hair follicle, promoting hair re-growth and hair health. This might also cause temporary loss of hair as the weaker hair are shed, but continued use is required for the newer, stronger follicles to grow. If its use is discontinued hair loss happens within a matter of months.

The users should be prepared to see additional hair loss during the initial phase – for at least 2 weeks. In fact it is good news if it happens, for that will prove that the drug is working for you.  This is because Minoxidil will change the way your scalp produces hair.  So you could ask  - What is Minoxidil’s advantage and what  does it do ? The drug does not treat male pattern baldness or the problem of hair loss directly. It simply works as a catalyst to augment hair growth by motivating your follicles to produce fresh hair. The metabolite minoxidil sulfate present in Minoxidil acts as a stimulant to hair growth and the enzyme that brings about this conversion is sulfotransferase which is present in hair follicles.

This drug is not used for sudden hair loss and for receding hairline in men, or if you are 18 years and younger. Neither is it used for sudden and unexplained hair loss or hair loss after birth.  

It is more potent in young men who have been experiencing hair loss for 5 years or less. Minoxidil is more effective when the area experiencing hair loss is small. It has also been used for hair growth in eyebrows and beards. Minoxidil has been found to be very effective in stimulating the growth of beards compared to other medicines.

Oh, but doesn’t it help with DHT?
No! Minoxidil has no effect on your hormones (Surprise!). That is Finasteride, but don’t rush to get it just yet, finasteride is known to have some serious side-effects, especially in men - including erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues, which is why we don’t prescribe it.

Side Effects of Minoxidil

But what about all the side-effects I read about? (But didn’t you also read UN voted Indian National Anthem as the best in the world? It’s not true)
There are side-effects of Minoxidil when it is not used in moderation (no more than 5-10% and 1-2ml in a day). Overuse of Minoxidil can cause certain issues but that is why our health experts give you defined instructions on “how to use” it. Not only that we also have the 1ml mark on the dropper of our packaging to make sure you know just how much to use. But if you have underlying health conditions such as - hypertension, history of heart diseases, breastfeeding or stroke - then you must not use Minoxidil. Also, even if there are recorded side-effects the doctor might yet prescribe it, as the perceived benefits are infinitely more than the possible side-effects.

Consider it an emergency if you develop an allergic reaction such as difficulty in breathing, swelling of tongue, face, throats or lips or hives.

There are also a list of common side-effects like:

  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Breast pain;
  • Rashes;
  • changes in the tone, texture and length of your body and facial hair.

It is time to visit the doctor if the person is experiencing any of the following:

  • fast, pounding heartbeats;
  • swelling in ankles or legs;
  • rapid weight gain mainly on your face or midsection;
  • short breath;
  • a light-headed feeling before you pass out;
  • newly developed chest pain or pain that spreads to jaw and shoulder;
  • fluid build-up in the lungs forcing one to gasp for breath, cough with foamy mucus, wheezing;
  • skin reactions with fever, sore throat, burning eyes; purple rashes that spread, blister or peel off; swelling in mouth or tongue.

The following facts also came to light when Minoxidil was administered to different patients:

  • Temporary edema (swelling of tissues as a result of excess fluid accumulation) developed in people who were non-edematous at the beginning.
  • Elongation, thickening and enhanced pigmentation body hair were seen in quite a few patients taking Minoxidil and quite a few reported rashes.

What about dryness, flakiness, and shedding?
Minoxidil has alcohol which causes the drying in your scalp, but that is only temporary. It subsides in 1-2 weeks (and we give you the scalp oil to help keep your scalp nourished). As for the hair shedding, Minoxidil is like a “reactivate” button for your hair follicles, and therefore, it causes your weak follicles to shed the damaged hair sooner than normal to allow re-growth of thick and healthy hair. This too subsides in 1-2 weeks. No pain no gain!

So Minoxidil really works to fix hair loss, huh?
Yes! (Just like social distancing works to stop the spread of coronavirus) Various studies have shown that 5% Minoxidil is by far one of the most effective treatments with little to no side-effects in normal cases. Not only that, recent studies have shown that Minoxidil is also known to work both on the crown and the hairline in hair-regrowth. Don’t believe us? Check it out here -https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00151515

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