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What is Minoxidil?
by Gary K. Johnson
If you’re interested in recovering lost head hair, you might be wondering if topical creams work and if so, how. The answer is Minoxidil.
The Background of Minoxidil
Before the 1980s, balding men and women had very few ways to battle the hair loss they were experiencing later in life. Men and women alike would resort to wigs or try desperately to regain lost hair with shampoos and vitamins, but these didn’t work.
During this time, Minoxidil was being developed as a treatment for high blood pressure. However, once it was discovered that a common side effect was hair growth, that became its primary function. The first cream to feature Minoxidil as its active ingredient was Rogaine, which is still on the market today.
Minoxidil Branches Out
Today, most brands of hair-growth creams include Minoxidil. Despite price, they are all comparable in active ingredient and solution strength. Solutions for men are usually at 5%, compared to 2% for women.
Minoxidil has been shown to be more effective in individuals who fall in the age range of 18-41. It has also been shown to be less effective with larger areas of hair loss. For about 30 years, the cream that minoxidil came in didn’t vary too much, but in 2007, minoxidil evolved from solely a cream product to being available as a foam.
Precisely why minoxidil works is not known. Scientists speculate that it works by expanding blood vessels and potassium channels, which enables hair follicles to get more nutrients.
Possible Minoxidil Side Effects
Oddly, one of the side effects of Minoxidil is hair loss. Those who experience this unusual result can expect lost hair to return after 30 to 60 days of discontinued use. Though rare, allergic reactions may include rash, hives, itching, trouble breathing, chest tightness, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, increased heart rate, sudden weight gain, and swollen hands or feet.
Most brands of hair growth cream recommend application once or twice daily in order for hair growth to be noticed and retained. It should remain on the scalp for four hours straight, after which it can be washed out.
The Two-Pronged Approach
Because Minoxidil does not have any effect on the enzymes that cause hair loss, it is an ongoing process. If Minoxidil is not continuously administered, results will disappear within months.
That’s why many Minoxidil users have found that they get the most effective when they use Minoxidil creams to complement a hair replacement procedure such as hair transplant surgery, where follicles are taken from the unaffected region of your scalp and transplanted to the affected portion. Treated with Minoxidil, the transplanted hair grows thicker and fuller.
If you’re interested in regaining your lost scalp hair, it is best to consult with a qualified hair loss specialist. He or she can inform you of the best solution for you, as well as the potential risks and side effects, and expected results.