Category Archives: Minoxidil

How Does Minoxidil Work for a Receding Hairline?

This post on how does Minoxidil work was originally written in 2014. It has now been updated with newer studies discussing Minoxidil’s mechanism of action in stimulating hair growth.

Minoxidil Chemical Structure

Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) is known to be one of only two medications officially approved for hair loss treatment (the other being Finasteride).

Minoxidil was first approved by the US FDA to treat hair loss in men in 1988. In 1991 the product was also made available for women with hair loss. Make sure to read my post on whether Minoxidil can grow a beard.

Also see some before and after results of patients on Minoxidil and/or Finasteride.

How does Minoxidil Work?

Scientists do not know the exact mechanism via which Minoxidil® has a positive effect on hair growth. However, there are a number of proven mechanisms of action that suggests how Minoxidil stimulates hair growth.

The original use of Minoxidil was as an oral medication for high blood pressure. The side effect of hypertrichosis (excessive body hair) led to its becoming a popular treatment option for hair loss.

To date, the main hypothesis about how Minoxidil works relates to its vasodilatory, potassium channel opening and increased blood flow effects. There are also other theories about how Minoxidil helps grow scalp hair, and further below I have outlined all of the main ones.

It should be noted that Minoxidil, besides prolonging the growth phase of the hair cycle, has also been shows to increase the diameter of existing hair follicles. According to a study from 1988, seven subjects who received a 5 percent dose of minoxidil had a mean hair shaft diameter of 0.029 mm before treatment, which then increased to 0.043 mm at 12 weeks.

Minoxidil and Hair Growth Studies

The current findings provide evidence that minoxidil could be used to treat both cancer and age-related disease, and open a new avenue for applications of minoxidil in treating androgen-AR pathway-related diseases.

Minoxidil enhances hair keratinocyte proliferation and activates hDP cells to induce growth factors. IGF-1 is among these growth factors, and has been shown to exhibit a potent hair elongation effect.

Minoxidil Side Effects

In general, topical Minoxidil is well tolerated in most people at the typical 5% dosage. Most people even tolerate higher concentration levels of the drug. However, some people will get side effects.

The most common entail adverse skin reactions such as burning, itching, redness and stinging in the areas of application. Another common complaint is an increase in body hair growth after taking Minoxidil, especially in the forehead, eyebrow and beard regions.

In rare instances, people complain about dizziness or breathing difficulties after taking Minoxidil. Allergic reactions, including rashes, are also possible in some cases. Please see a doctor immediately if you get such serious side effects. Also make sure to stop using this medication right away.

Minoxidil Shedding

Some people will shed a lot of hair after changing their Minoxidil® dosage. For those who quit Minoxidil entirely, a major shed of scalp hair is almost always guaranteed. Sometimes this can take weeks or even months after drug use cessation. In many instances, sheds are temporary and just the regular part of the hair cycle.

Minoxidil Toxicity in Cats

If you own pets, note that Minoxidil® is very poisonous to some animals, especially cats. If your cat is exposed to Minoxidil via a spill or accident, some side effects to look out for include:

  • Fatigue and lethargy.
  • Changes in heart rate due to cardiac damage.
  • Dehydration.
  • A drop blood pressure (hypotension).
  • Coughing.
  • Changes in appetite.

Prompt action and treatment by a veterinarian will prevent your cat from dying. If the medication was applied topically, make sure to wash the cat’s paws and fur promptly and thoroughly.

Dutasteride and Minoxidil Before and After Photos

In my previous post, I showed an incredible before and after photo of someone taking Dutasteride (oral and injection) in combination with Oral Minoxidil. This patient was treated by Dr. Sergio Vañó-Galván from Spain. The doctor has since sent me a number of other before and after photos of his hair loss patients. All of them have seen significant hair growth while on some variation of this Dutasteride (oral and/or injection) and Minoxidil (topical or oral) combination treatment.

I was debating on whether these new photos (see further below) were worth a new post, and finally concluded in the affirmative. Sometimes people forget about the excellent existing hair loss treatment medications out there that have been proven to work really well for many patients.

Of course one must be willing to risk potential side effects of these medications. Most published studies suggest very few people get major permanent side effects from Dutasteride, but it is up to you to do your own research and reach your own conclusions. Note that Dutasteride is only approved in several countries to treat hair loss as of 2019. However, it is approved as an enlarged prostate treatment all across the world.

Dr. Sergio Vañó-Galván is on the organizing committee of the 11th World Congress for Hair Research that will take place in Barcelona in April 2019. He is also on the Board of Directors of the EHRS. i.e., this man is not some run-of-the mill hair transplant doctor operating from a back alley.

Dutasteride plus Topical Minoxidil Hair Growth

For those getting side effects from oral Minoxidil or fearful of taking it, topical Minoxidil is always a good alternative when taken in a combination treatment alongside Dutasteride.

Patient 1: Dutasteride injections plus oral Dutasteride plus 5%  topical Minoxidil at 12-months.

Dutasteride and Topical Minoxidil -- 12 Month Hair Growth

Patient 2: Dutasteride injections plus oral Dutasteride plus 5% topical Minoxidil at 12-months.

Dutasteride plus Topical Minoxidil Hair Growth at 12 Months

Patient 3: Dutasteride injections plus oral Dutasteride plus 5% topical Minoxidil at 12-months.

Dutasteride and Topical Minoxidil Hair Growth Before After

Oral Dutasteride plus Mesotherapy Dutasteride Injections

One can also ignore Minoxidil entirely and just focus on Dutasteride (oral and injection combination treatment) if so desired.

Patient 4: Oral Dutasteride plus mesotherapy with Dutasteride 0.05% once every three months.

Dutasteride Mesotherapy Before and After

Female Hair Loss Treated with Oral Minoxidil

Females are not given Dutasteride if trying to get pregnant. However, females are allowed to take oral Minoxidil at any time if healthy. However, women should note that oral Minoxidil can cause excessive body hair (hirsutism) as a side effect.

Patient 5: Oral Minoxidil 1 mg/day at 12-Months in a female.

Oral Minoxidil Hair Growth in a Female: Before and After