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Minoxidil FAQ | Hair Loss Medication: When & How to Use

In Hair Loss by Alpha Now Team

If your thinning hair is getting you down, read through this list of minoxidil FAQ to learn all about this impressive hair loss treatment.

RELATED: 7 Reasons Why Your Hair Is Falling Out

In this article:

  1. What Is Minoxidil?
  2. How Does Minoxidil Work?
  3. How Do You Use Minoxidil?
  4. How Long Does Minoxidil Take to Work?
  5. What Are the Side Effects of Minoxidil?
  6. At What Age Should You Use Minoxidil?
  7. Does Minoxidil Have to Be Used Forever?
  8. How Long Do You Leave Minoxidil On?
  9. Can You Leave Minoxidil on Overnight?
  10. Where Can You Get Minoxidil?

Minoxidil FAQ | Everything You Need To Know

What Is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a topical drug which treats androgenic alopecia.

What is androgenic alopecia? This is a hair loss condition wherein the hair thins out and the hairline recedes gradually. This is also known as male pattern baldness.

Minoxidil was actually an accidental discovery. Scientists initially used it as an anti-hypertensive drug.

When testing its anti-hypertensive effects, they discovered an interesting side effect—it made hair grow! In 1988, the FDA approved minoxidil as medication for treating baldness in men.

How Does Minoxidil Work?

Minoxidil is an anti-hypertensive vasodilator. This means it helps widen blood vessels to promote blood flow.

In terms of hair growth applications, it helps promote blood flow in hair follicles. When there’s more blood flow, there are more nutrients delivered.

These nutrients strengthen hair follicles and promote hair regrowth. In fact, clinical trials show about 40% of men who use minoxidil for 3-6 months experience hair regrowth.

How Do You Use Minoxidil?

For hair growth, it’s more common to apply minoxidil topically. It usually comes in liquid form.

To apply minoxidil, follow these steps:

  • Check your scalp to make sure it isn’t infected, swollen, or irritated. If it is, don’t apply it.
  • Wash your hair.
  • Dry your hair and head completely.
  • Starting from the center, apply minoxidil on your scalp.
  • Wash your hands after application.
  • Leave minoxidil on.
  • Use minoxidil twice a day, once in the morning and then again at night.

How Long Does Minoxidil Take to Work?

It usually takes at least three months of regular use for visible hair growth.

Most recommend using minoxidil for at least six months to experience its benefits. Keep in mind that the results will vary—it depends on when you started using minoxidil, how severe the balding is, and your genetic makeup.

What Are the Side Effects of Minoxidil?

The most commonly reported side effect is contact dermatitis on the scalp. This involves some itching and irritation on the part of the scalp where it was applied.

Apart from that, some people experience hair loss when they begin using minoxidil. Initial hair loss is normal because this makes space for new and thicker hair to grow.

It may also cause an allergic reaction, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Facial swelling
  • Hives
  • Lips, tongue, and throat swelling
  • Light-headedness, headaches, or confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeats

Even though it’s uncommon, it’s important to stop the of minoxidil and seek emergency medical assistance if you experience any of these allergic reactions.

RELATED: Progressive Hair Loss: 10 Reasons Why Your Hair Is Shedding More Than Usual

At What Age Should You Use Minoxidil?

Handsome naked Afro American man is examining his hair | Minoxidil FAQ | Hair Loss Medication: When & How to Use | topical solution
It depends on when the symptoms of male pattern baldness begin. People can start experiencing the symptoms in their twenties.

It’s best to begin using minoxidil as soon as you notice the symptoms. Research shows that it’s most effective when men begin to use during the onset of male pattern baldness.

Note: Minoxidil is not safe for babies or children. If you’re under 18 years old and you want to use minoxidil, it’s important to consult your parents and health provider first.

Does Minoxidil Have to Be Used Forever?

If you want to maintain the hair growth, you need to keep using minoxidil. Once you stop using it, you may revert back to your pre-treatment scalp within six months.

On top of that, you may notice an increased rate of balding once you stop. Minoxidil can slow down the balding process, so once you’re off of it, your scalp functions without its effects anymore.

How Long Do You Leave Minoxidil On?

It’s best to leave it in your hair for 4-6 hours to maximize its effects. Don’t wash your hair for at least 4 hours after you apply it.

Avoid using hair dryers after applying minoxidil. It may make the treatment less effective because you’re not giving your scalp the opportunity to absorb it.

Can You Leave Minoxidil on Overnight?

It’s fine to leave minoxidil on overnight. Just remember to let it dry completely before hitting the sack.

After applying the solution, let it dry for about 2-4 hours before going to bed. You don’t want the solution to wipe off on your linens before your scalp can absorb it.

On top of that, minoxidil can also stain your linens. It can also cause unwanted hair growth if it accidentally transfers to other parts of your body while you’re asleep.

Where Can You Get Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter drug. This means you can get it without a prescription from your doctor.

Keep in mind minoxidil is the generic name of the drug. Most pharmaceutical companies rebrand minoxidil with a hefty mark-up—like Rogaine.

If you shop online, you can get minoxidil without the retail mark-up! It’s important though to make sure your hair loss is due to male pattern baldness and not due to any other medical condition.

So, choose a retailer who will help you evaluate your needs. If you’re interested in other hair loss treatment products, you may also want to try oral finasteride supplements, an oral FDA-approved supplement, which helps decrease dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

What Is DHT? This causes hair follicles to shrink and contributes to male pattern baldness.

Let’s be honest—balding sucks. It can make you look older than you feel.

But you’re not defenseless against it. If you’re really serious about keeping your locks, minoxidil is definitely worth a try.

Remember, with minoxidil, it’s important to start as soon as the balding begins. So, order yours today!

What do you do to help keep your hair full and healthy? Tell us all about it in the comments section. 

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