Does Minoxidil Work For Hair Loss?

18 February, 2021 | Hair Loss | Author : Shveta Virmani

Losing hair and receding hairline can be stressful. The worst part is that the stress of losing your hair everyday further adds to the hair loss, making it a vicious and complicated cycle. Studies in the past have demonstrated that a majority of men and women start experiencing hair loss by the age of 35 that can be attributed to stress, genetics, nutrition, and hormones. This is exactly where Minoxidil comes into the picture.

It interacts with sulfotransferase present on the scalp (when applied topically in the form of a foam or serum) and converts it into minoxidil sulfate that is believed to be Minoxidil's active form. It then shortens the telogen phase (when the hair is resting and the process of hair fall has started) and pushes it into the anagen (growth) phase. Minoxidil extends the growth period of hair and makes the hair grow thicker and longer.

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil was originally introduced as an antihypertensive medication and later gained popularity as a topical medicine to promote hair growth. The drug has been used off-label for treating many types of alopecia such as eyebrow hypotrichosis, monilethrix, telogen effluvium, alopecia areata (AA), chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA), and scarring alopecia. Minoxidil is primarily effective in treating thinning at the top of the scalp or hereditary hair loss.

Minoxidil is a FDA-approved drug that is used by more than 35 million across the globe for treating androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness. It affects two stages of hair - the resting stage (also known as telogen) and the growing phase (anagen). Minoxidil has the unique ability of converting hair in the dormant phase to the anagen phase that means that hair that is not growing for a while gets stimulated to enter the phase of growth. This, in turn, opens up the potassium channel in the roots of our hair and leads to the growth of hair when combined with an improved flow of blood in the body.

Clinically, Minoxidil is used for treating female pattern hair loss and androgenetic alopecia. It is also used off-label for eyebrow enhancement, alopecia areata, beard enhancement, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, frontal fibrosing alopecia, loose anagen hair syndrome, Telogen effluvium, Monilethrix, and Chemotherapy-induced alopecia.


Minoxidil foam and solution are used for stimulating hair growth as part of male pattern baldness treatment. The 2 percent Minoxidil solution and foam are used for helping with hair growth in women who are experiencing hair thinning. Considered to be the mainstay treatment for androgenetic alopecia, Minoxidil is also used as an off-label treatment for a wide range of hair loss conditions.

Mechanism Of Action

A potassium channel opener, Minoxidil has a vasodilation action that expands the blood vessels to promote blood flow in the body. This increased blood flow offers more oxygen and nutrition to the hair follicles that, in turn, enhances new hair growth and prevents hair cell death to treat hair loss (alopecia).

Minoxidil, a piperidino-pyrimidine derivative and potent arteriolar vasodilator, has the ability of opening potassium channels that are located on the smooth muscles of the peripheral artery that leads to hyperpolarization of the cell membrane. Minoxidil enhances cell proliferation and increases cellular DNA synthesis that causes positive effects on hair growth. It also has the ability of stimulating the production of prostaglandin E2 by activating prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase-1 that helps in continuous growth of hair follicles.

Minoxidil is available in formulations of 2% and 5% and Minoxidil 5 for men is commonly used by men across the world to stimulate follicular proliferation and differentiation.

Side Effects

Minoxidil side effects may include fast heartbeat, unusual weight gain, and tiredness. Some of the other Minoxidil side effects may include dizziness, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing especially when lying down.


  • It is important for you to tell your doctor if you have a hypersensitivity to Minoxidil or any other drug before you start using it.
  • You should also disclose the use of any prescription or over-the-counter drugs to the doctor before seeking their opinion on using Minoxidil.
  • Communicate to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or are a breastfeeding woman. You should also inform your doctor if you become pregnant while using Minoxidil.
  • Have a prior word with the doctor if you have or have ever had ailments associated with scalp, kidney, liver, or heart.
  • Avoid prolonged or unnecessary exposure to sunlight and you must wear protective sunglasses, clothing, and sunscreen as Minoxidil may make skin sensitive to sunlight.
  • It is important to store Minoxidil at room temperature between 68°F (20°C)-77°F (25°C). You should keep it protected against heat, sunlight, or moisture.
  • Minoxidil should be kept out of reach of children and in a tightly closed container.
  • You should avoid applying cosmetics, lotions, dressings, bandages, or other skin medications to the area being treated with Minoxidil unless otherwise specifically recommended by your doctor.
  • You should not shampoo hair for at least 4 hours after you have applied Minoxidil as it may minimise the efficacy of Minoxidil.
  • You should always wash the hands before and after applying Minoxidil.


Some drugs for high blood pressure such as guanethidine and drugs that are likely to interact with alcohol such as disulfiram and metronidazole may interact with Minoxidil and therefore should be avoided. It should not be used with over-the-counter hair dye and other irritants. You should seek immediate medical intervention if you experience symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, weight gain, difficulty in breathing, lightheadedness, chest pain, or swelling of the ankles, hand, stomach, or face.


Minoxidil may be harmful if swallowed. If you or someone, who has been taking Minoxidil, has serious symptoms (dizziness, flushing, fainting, troubled breathing, or drowsiness) or overdosed, immediate medical intervention should be sought. You should skip the missed dose if you have inadvertently missed a dose of Minoxidil. You should never double the dosage to catch up and should instead use the next dose at the regular time.

Benefits in the Long Run

You can expect countless benefits of Minoxidil if you use it according to the instructions and start using it at the early stages of hair loss.

  • Minoxidil slows down the process of hair loss.
  • It starts showing results in about 2-4 months for men & 4 months for women.
  • Minoxidil prompts follicles of the hair to produce hair again.
  • It helps in producing thicker hair.
  • Minoxidil revitalises blood circulation in the small blood vessels.
  • It lengthens the anagen phase of the cycle of hair growth.
  • It helps men with male pattern baldness regrow "lost hair.

The ideal dose of Minoxidil topical solution for hair growth is 1 milliliter (mL) to the scalp twice a day for adults and half a capful to the scalp twice a day for topical foam by adults. The use of Minoxidil dosage for children must be guided by a qualified and experienced doctor.

How to apply Minoxidil topical solution?

  • The first step is all about ensuring that your scalp and hair are completely drug-free before Minoxidil topical solution is applied.
  • Apply the prescribed amount to the scalp area being treated, starting in the center of the area. You should carefully and completely follow the instructions of your doctor on how to apply Minoxidil topical solution by using the provided applicator.
  • It is important to remember that you should avoid shampooing your hair for at least four hours after you have applied the Minoxidil topical solution.
  • You should always wash your hands before and after applying Minoxidil topical solution.
  • It is strongly advised that you should avoid using a hair dryer for drying the scalp after applying the Minoxidil topical solution. This may make the treatment less effective.
  • You should ideally allow the Minoxidil topical solution to dry completely for 2-4 hours after its application and this should include time before you go to bed. This is simply because the Minoxidil topical solution may stain bed linen, hats, or clothing if your scalp or hair is not completely dry after application of the topical solution.

How to apply Minoxidil topical foam?

  • You should open the Minoxidil topical foam container by matching the arrow on the ring of the can with the cap's arrow. You can then pull off the cap.
  • You can then part your hair into one or more rows for exposing the scalp areas that are experiencing hair thinning.
  • The next step is all about holding the Minoxidil topical foam can upside down and pressing the nozzle to bring out the foam on the fingers.
  • You can now spread the foam over the scalp areas experiencing hair loss by using your fingers and gently massaging the foam into the scalp.
  • You should wash your hands before and immediately after applying the Minoxidil topical foam.


Minoxidil can be an excellent choice for you if you are in the early stages of hair loss and looking for a safe and effective product to slow down hair loss It is however important for you to have a word with your doctor beforehand so that you understand the benefits and risks of treatment with Minoxidil.

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Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Gaurang Krishna

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Disclaimer:The content published on this website( is meant to spread awareness and educate the concerned patients regarding baldness and hair transplants as well as the treatment options available for baldness and hair transplant treatment in Delhi India. Any information on the website shall not be regarded as a prescription from a professional dermatologist. We recommend visiting a dermatologist in person for the right diagnosis and the treatment for any hair issues. We do not guarantee specific results as the treatments and the results vary from person to person.

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