Minoxidil is an antihypertensive vasodilator medication that is used to treat hair loss in adults and is marketed under the brand name Rogaine in the United States. It is available without a prescription, and can either be rubbed into the scalp or can be sprayed on to halt or decelerate hair loss, as well as promote the regrowth of hair on the scalp. Furthermore, minoxidil can be used by both men and women to treat hair loss, and is generally well tolerated; although some side effects, such as itchiness, redness, and irritation around the eyes have been reported by some users. Interestingly, minoxidil treats male and female pattern baldness by hyperpolarizing cell membranes by opening up potassium channels in the body. In addition, as minoxidil is also a vasodilator, it widens blood vessels, allowing more nutrients, oxygen, and blood to reach the hair follicles. It is also important to note that minoxidil is most effective when used with people who suffer from vertex hair loss. That is, the effectiveness of minoxidil decreases as the area of hair loss increases.
Moreover, dermatologists conducted a 12 month observational study on 984 men who suffered from male pattern baldness. The patients were asked to apply a 5% minoxidil solution to their scalps twice a day, focusing on areas where they had noticeable hair loss. The subjects were then asked to collect any hair that they lost during their showers and to send it to the laboratory so that they could be meticulously counted and stored for subsequent analysis. The men in the study were asked to collect and send their hair to the researchers, every 3 months, for a total of 4 lab-controlled analyses.
What’s more, the study found that only 3.9% of participants experienced any side effects, and none of the side effects were reported as serious. The study also found that subject satisfaction increased from an average score of 2.9 (on a 0 to 10 scale) at the onset of a study to an increase of 4.4 at the conclusion of the study. Furthermore, the amount of hair lost via hair washing dropped from a mean of 69.7 hairs at the onset of the study to an average of only 33.8 hairs at the end of the study; a reduction of hair loss of over 50%. A more thorough analysis of the findings found that the 5% topical solution of minoxidil was ineffective in only 15.7% of subjects, indicating that the solution was effective in reducing hair loss in 84.3% of patients. The study also found that hair loss areas of the scalp became larger in only 2.9% of patients, while 62% of patients experienced smaller areas of hair loss, and 35.1% noticed no changes either way.