Minoxidil is a vasodilator and originally was exclusively used as an oral drug (Loniten®) to treat high blood pressure. It was, however, discovered to have the interesting side effect of hair growth and reversing baldness, and in the 1980s, Upjohn Corporation produced a topical solution that contained 2% minoxidil to be used as a hair loss treatment, to treat baldness and hair loss, under the brand name Rogaine in the United States, and Regaine outside the United States.
Treatments usually include a 5% concentration solutions that are designed for men, while the 2% concentration solutions are designed for women. It is unknown how the drug stimulates hair growth, however some experts believe that minoxidil dilates the blood vessels around hair follicles, increasing the nutrient supply and encouraging increased hair growth.
The key to using Minoxidil is to begin using it early. The best candidates are those who are thinning but not bald. Those with a higher density of hair at the beginning of treatment are good candidates. If the medication is stopped, after prolonged use, hair loss may increase.
Two daily applications for up to four months may be required before evidence of hair regrowth is observed. The onset and degree of hair regrowth may be variable among different patients treated with this medicine. If hair regrowth occurs, two daily applications are necessary for additional and continued hair growth (unless your doctor directs otherwise). First hair growth may be soft, downy, colorless hair that is barely visible. After further treatment, however, the new hair should be the same color and thickness as the other hair on the scalp.
If one or two applications are missed, restart twice daily applications and return to the usual schedule. Do not attempt to make up for missed doses or use more than 1 mL at a time. Do not use on sunburned skin.
It is important to continue to use minoxidil for the entire time prescribed by your doctor, even if hair growth does not appear within several months. If there is no hair growth after at least four months or more, consult with your doctor, as this medication may not be effective for you.It is usually applied in a 1-3% solution twice a day. It must be used for a about six months to see the benefits.
Major complications are rare, but patients who suffer from heart disease or hypertension should check with their doctor before beginning treatment.
The most common problem is irritation and dryness of the skin. Large amounts of minoxidil can cause hypotension, headaches, irregular or fast heart beat, blurred vision, chest pain.
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