Home > Health Library > Minoxidil for Hair Loss
Minoxidil (2% or 5% solution) is a spray or lotion that you
put directly on your scalp twice a day. It is available without a
It is unclear how minoxidil affects hair
growth. Minoxidil appears to increase
hair follicles and also thickens the shafts of existing hair so that it grows in thicker.
Minoxidil has been approved for both men and women.
Minoxidil was originally used to
high blood pressure. It is now also used to treat
inherited hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), the most common
cause of hair loss. And it is used to treat other causes of hair loss
Minoxidil slows hair loss and grows
new hair. In men, the 5% solution appears to be more effective than the 2%
solution, but it costs more and may have more side effects.
Some people who take minoxidil only grow hair
that is thin and wispy or similar to peach fuzz.
to work best on people younger than 30 years of age who have been losing hair
for fewer than 5 years.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Stop use and call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is
not available in all systems.)
Minoxidil must be used daily. If
you stop using minoxidil, any regrown hair will gradually be lost, and within 6
to 12 months the scalp will most likely appear the same as before
have heart problems, ask your doctor about using this medicine.
Women may have more hair growth if they use minoxidil
along with estrogen (such as hormone therapy or birth control pills).
In women, minoxidil may promote
facial hair growth, especially on the forehead and cheeks.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Habif TP (2010). Hair diseases. In Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy, 5th ed., pp. 913–935. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
May 29, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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