Minoxidil treatment for hair loss
Reviewed by our clinical team - 26.9.22
Minoxidil is a medicine licensed as a hair loss treatment for men and women. Because it doesn't require a prescription, it is available from many high street pharmacies. Some pharmacies offer minoxidil as an own-brand product.
Minoxidil is commonly used in the treatment of male pattern baldness and, and as many as 9/10 men see an improvement, according to the popular branded version of minoxidil - Regaine.
How do you use minoxidil?
Minoxidil comes as a lotion, liquid or foam, normally in a strength of 2% or 5%. The higher concentration is usually only recommended for use by men, but the lower strength can be used by women. To have any positive effect on hair loss, minoxidil must be applied at least once a day, every day for as long as treatment is desired.
The method of application will differ depending on whether you are using lotion or foam, but the basic technique is to apply a small amount (usually 1ml) very carefully to areas of the scalp affected by balding and to massage it into the skin. If you are using liquid minoxidil, it is likely that you will be provided with an applicator to make the process easier and more accurate.
It is important not to apply minoxidil to irritated or sore skin and to avoid getting it in your eyes. Minoxidil can also lead to unwanted hair growth if it comes in to contact with other areas of the body.
Does minoxidil work?
Yes, minoxidil has been proven to halt hair loss and promote new hair growth in men and women. As mentioned it helps improve hair loss for up to 9/10 men, and as many as 80% of women.
Minoxidil is the most effective hair loss treatment for women and the second most effective hair loss treatment for men, after finasteride. Finasteride is a tablet taken every day to combat male pattern baldness. However it must not be taken by women. In one study, Propecia was shown to be effective at halting hair loss and promoting regrowth in 90% of men who used it.
The key thing to bear in mind when using minoxidil is that any positive effects upon hair loss will be reversed once you stop treatment.
If you are suffering from very severe hair loss then it is unlikely that minoxidil will be a viable treatment. You should talk to your GP about your options.
Are there any side effects from minoxidil?
As with any medicine, minoxidil comes with some mild side effects such as mild skin irritations. However if you experience any side effects you should stop using minoxidil and tell your doctor or pharmacist.
If you are a man who has tried minoxidil and found it ineffective, or if you are a seeking an alternative treatment for hair loss, you might consider Finasteride. Visit our online hair loss clinic to find out more.
How long does it take minoxidil to work?
Minoxidil has been shown to encourage hair regrowth in as little as 16 weeks.
You should bear in mine that in the first six weeks of using minoxidil may see a temporary increase in hair loss.
What happens if I miss a dose of minoxidil?
If you miss a dose of minoxidil, apply it as soon as possible.
However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.
What should I avoid while taking minoxidil?
You can use mild shampoos while using minoxidil, but your scalp should be dry before applying the lotion or foam. It's advised to leave you scalp for at least an hour after shampooing before applying minoxidil.
If you're going to be in the sun after using minoxidil, it's advised you cover your head for at least two hours after, and then apply sun cream.
If you're going to get your hair coloured or permed, you'll need to make sure minoxidil is completely washed off before you start this process.
Where can you get minoxidil?
It's a good idea speak to your doctor before you start using Minoxidil. This is because over-the-counter minoxidil is only licensed for hereditary hair loss. If your hair loss is down to something else, the doctor might suggest you try a different option.
Because minoxidil isn't a prescription treatment, you can buy it from most high street and online pharmacies. Pharmacies are likely to offer Regaine, but there are also other brands of minoxidil available - ask the pharmacist if you're not quite sure.
Hair loss treatment with Online Doctor
Here at Online Doctor we can prescribe Finasteride to treat male pattern baldness. This is a prescription-strength treatment taken daily. You can find out more by visiting our online hair loss service.