Minoxidil has been on the market for several years now. For a large portion of this time, it has gained unique recognition as the only FDA-approved topical medication actually proven to combat alopecia. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the minoxidil hair loss treatment. Over the next few paragraphs, you’ll discover just how effective it is (or isn’t), what types of side effects you may need to be concerned about, and whether or not you should even bother giving minoxidil a try.
The minoxidil hair loss topical we all know and love today didn’t actually didn’t actually start out as a hair restoration treatment at all. It may surprise you to learn that it’s original role was that of a blood pressure medication. It’s primary function was to dilate blood vessels to allow for better circulation. And in this capacity, it worked pretty well.
Problems arose, however, in the form of a peculiar side effect which became quite common. The side effect? Excessive hair growth! Talk about a sign of things to come, yes? And kudos to the powers that be for turning lemons into lemonade!
Today, by the way, minoxidil is still used in its orally administered form as a successful blood pressure medication… but it is far more well-known in its topical form, as perhaps the most popular hair loss drug on the market today.
For hair restoration purposes, minoxidil is available in foam, liquid, and spray form. It is applied directly to the scalp, and has been FDA approved for use in both men (as a 5% solution) and women (2%). The most common brands on the market today are Rogaine (available over the counter) and Provillus (available online).
According to the Rogaine website, their foam regrew hair in 85% of men who used it twice daily. However, other reports show the success rate of minoxidil to be as low as 40%. When combined with the oral medication finasteride (Propecia), however, these numbers tend to climb dramatically.
That said, you are encouraged to be very cautious about taking finasteride, as it has led to some pretty nasty sexual side effects in many of its users. This would certainly be an issue for you to discuss with your doctor.
The Provillus hair loss treatment system actually includes a minoxidil topical spray, along with a supplement touted by many as a natural alternative to finasteride. Others argue against this point adamantly. Again, this would be something to talk to your doctor about.
By the way, even though reports fluctuate from source to source, the general consensus seems to hold women’s minoxidil at an average success rate of around 65%, give or take a few percentage points. And while finasteride should not be taken by women, there may be other ways of combating DHT (the hormone responsible for pattern baldness) which should be explored.
At the end of the day, minoxidil is quite possibly the very best (non-surgical) weapon we currently have against hair loss. It is of great importance, however, that you keep your expectations in check. Minoxidil is not likely to give you the full head of hair you took for granted as a teen. It may very well help to keep your hair loss at bay, but should not be viewed as a time machine by any means. 😉