Minoxidil - Uses | Dosage | Side Effects | Precautions
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Minoxidil - A Commonly Used Drug for Hair Fall

Written by
Dr. Suvash Sahu
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Feb 13, 2017 and last reviewed on Sep 01, 2022   -  4 min read


Minoxidil is a drug that enhances the hair growth of an individual. Read this article to know more in detail.

Minoxidil - A Commonly Used Drug for Hair Fall


Minoxidil is used to treat hypertension and pattern hair loss, available as oral tablets, topical liquids, and foam. The drug is specialized in promoting hair growth in women with thinning hair and men with pattern baldness. However, it is unsuitable for reversing baldness, patchy hair loss, hair loss after giving birth, or treating the receding hairline. This article deals with the mechanism of action, dosage, application, and side effects of the drug.

How Does Minoxidil Work?

The exact mechanism of Minoxidil is unknown, but the following have been considered.

  • It enhances microcirculation around hair follicles through vasodilatation and stimulates cell division in epithelial cells (superficial layer of the skin), thereby slowing the aging of hair matrix cells.

  • It alters androgenic effects on genetically determined hair follicles. New hair growth results from activity in existing quiescent (sleeping) terminal hair follicles and revives vellus hair follicles, not due to new hair follicle generation.

How to Use Minoxidil?

The dose of Minoxidil may differ for each individual. However, a standard Minoxidil solution is available with a dropper calibrated marking up to 1 ml, and the recommended dose is 2 ml daily for adults. For children, the dose and usage must be followed as per the doctor’s suggestions. In addition, follow the doctor’s instructions for applying the solution. The hair and scalp should be dry before application. The scalp can be divided into four quadrants, and roughly an equal amount of drops are applied to each quadrant. Then, massage with the fingertips to enhance the penetration. The fingertips, hands, and other areas where the drugs spill should be washed thoroughly after application.

When Can You Notice Hair Growth?

Since hair growth will be clinically evident after four to six months, a trial for at least six months should be given to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug in a given person. Peak hair growth occurs after 8 to 12 months. Once the application of Minoxidil is stopped, then the hair fall recurs. Hence, a maintenance dosage of at least four months is advisable to sustain the effect. But in case the condition worsens or does not improve even after four to six months, report to your doctor immediately.

What Are the Side Effects of Minoxidil?

Any substance can have its good and bad effects. Although not all adverse effects can occur in an individual, if they occur, medical attention is necessary.

Local Side Effects: Irritant dermatitis, eczema, acne, itching, dry skin, burning of the scalp, facial hair growth, increased hair loss, inflammation or soreness at the root of the hair, reddened skin, and swelling of the face.

Systemic Side Effects: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, blurred vision, fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness, hypertension, increased heart rate, chest pain, anxiety, depression, weight gain, flushing, numbness or tingling of hands, feet, or face, and swelling of face, hands, feet, or lower legs.

What Are the Precautions to Be Followed While Using Minoxidil?

  • Avoid applying Minoxidil solution if you have an infection at the site of application, as it can aggravate the condition.

  • Any changes should be monitored regularly for hair regrowth and side effects and must be reported to the doctor.

  • It is not recommended in pregnant and lactating females and girls under 18 years.

  • If it accidentally enters the eyes, then the eyes should be washed immediately with copious water. Otherwise, alcohol base in this can cause burns.

  • Avoid using Minoxidil on the days of hair coloring or chemical treatment, as it can lead to scalp irritation.

  • Avoid using it on body parts unless suggested by the doctor.

  • Avoid using it on red, painful, irritated, scraped, cut, or infected skin.

  • Wash hands before and after application.

  • Avoid getting the solution in your eyes. If this occurs, rinse your eyes with cool water.

  • Use the product only as directed and avoid using it more and more often.

  • Avoid using other skin products on the same site of application of Minoxidil.

  • Do not double the dose of Minoxidil to compensate for the missed dose.

  • Apply the Minoxidil solution only to dry hair and scalp.

  • Do not shampoo your hair after applying Minoxidil.

  • Avoid using a hairdryer to dry the scalp after applying Minoxidil solution.

  • Allow Minoxidil to dry completely for 2 to 4 hours after application.

  • Avoid using the foam near heat or while smoking.

  • Store the Minoxidil solution in a closed container at room temperature and away from moisture and heat.

  • Keep the solution out of the reach of children.

  • Discard the outdated medicine immediately.

  • Do not flush outdated medicines or solutions in toilets.

  • Discuss with a pharmacist or a physician how to discard the medicines.

  • It is essential that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to ensure that this medicine works correctly and for unwanted effects.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If you experience continued itching, redness, or burning of your scalp after applying Minoxidil, report it to the doctor immediately. There are also chances of hair loss for the first two weeks of application of Minoxidil. However, monitor the duration of hair loss; if it persists after two weeks, report to the doctor immediately. In addition, consult your doctor at regular intervals to monitor hair growth.

Who Should Not Take Minoxidil?

The drug is contraindicated in the following conditions.

  • Pregnant woman.

  • Breastfeeding mothers.

  • Pheochromocytoma (hormone-secreting tumor of the adrenal glands).

  • Angina pectoris (chest pain).

  • Heart attack.

  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the covering of the heart called pericardium).

  • Pericardial effusion (fluid accumulation in the pericardium).

  • Chronic heart failure.

  • Impaired renal function.

  • Blood vessel disorders.


Minoxidil, a drug available as oral tablets, topical liquid, and foam, can be beneficial in some aspects and detrimental in others. However, it is found to cause hair growth in most individuals. Besides invasive hair transplantation techniques, Minoxidil topical solution and foam are good choices for hair growth. However, consult a doctor, discuss with them the benefits and risks of the drug, get to know if the drug suits you, and start using it. Remember not to use without a doctor’s prescription and not to suggest anyone with hair fall issues unless the doctor prescribes.

Frequently Asked Questions


Does Minoxidil Cause Hair Loss?

Minoxidil is used to cure baldness in men; however, during the initial phase of treatment, most men start to see their hair fall out in large quantities. This increase in hair loss is termed Minoxidil shedding, which is a good sign as non-growing hair starts to shed during this phase as a new growth phase begins.


Does Minoxidil Cause Permanent Hair Loss?

The hair loss or shedding caused by Minoxidil is a temporary phase. Shedding is a perfectly normal part of the hair growth process; in most cases, the shedding lasts only around eight weeks, and people usually start to see results after consistent use for four months. If positive results are not seen after four months, the patient should seek medical advice.


Can Minoxidil Be Used Forever?

Minoxidil can be used for a lifetime, especially in alopecia (male balding and female thinning). However, if a person stops using this medicine, the hair will return to how it once was and progressively worsens.


For Whom Is Minoxidil Contraindicated?

Minoxidil causes vasodilation which means the widening of blood vessels leading to increased blood flow and causing an increased heart rate. This product is not recommended for people who have pre-existing heart problems. It can cause an abnormal increase in heart rate leading to chest pains and heart failure.


What Happens After Stopping Minoxidil?

If a person stops using Minoxidil, they will start losing hair gradually. The progress made by this medicine will go in vain as they will lose all the regrown hair. Therefore, this medicine is advised for a long duration to get better results.


For How Long does Minoxidil Stays Effective?

The treatment by Minoxidil helps in slowing down the process of hair loss. Along with that, it helps in the regrowth of new hair. However, in many cases, it is seen that the effectiveness of Minoxidil starts to wear off after six to eight years. But it can be regained after starting the treatment again.


Are There Any Side Effects of Minoxidil?

Some common side effects after using this drug are burning, stinging, or redness at the application site. If the problem persists, the patient should stop using this medicine and consult the doctor. In rare cases, this medicine can cause unwanted facial or body hair, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, fainting, chest pain, swelling of hands or feet, unusual weight gain, tiredness, and difficulty breathing.


What Is the Acting Time for Minoxidil?

Minoxidil does not show results immediately; it acts slowly. The patient can start seeing results only after the consistent use of this drug for at least eight weeks. The actual results can be seen after four months of usage.


Does Minoxidil Cause Thickening of Hair?

Minoxidil stimulates hair growth, and along with that, it also causes the thickening of hair. So Minoxidil increases the density and thickness of hair and is helpful in conditions like alopecia.


When to Comb After Applying Minoxidil?

It is not advised to use a comb immediately after applying Minoxidil, as the combing can lead to the removal of the product while brushing. So it is recommended to let the medicine be absorbed in the scalp before combing.


What Is the Frequency of Minoxidil Application?

Minoxidil is usually recommended to be applied once daily. The usual lifespan of Minoxidil on the scalp is 20 to 22 hours, but this varies among patients. However, applying at least one milliliter (ml) of Minoxidil is recommended twice daily for better results.


Can Minoxidil Dosage Be Missed?

If someone misses a dosage, they should apply it as soon as possible. Using this medicine regularly without missing any dosage is always recommended, as it can hinder the results. If it is time for the next dosage after missing the first one, the patient should follow the regular dosage schedule and skip the missed dosage.


Do You Have to Wash Your Hair Daily After Using Minoxidil?

It is recommended to wash hair daily while using Minoxidil. Prolonged usage of this drug without washing can cause burning, itching, and redness, on the scalp. Therefore, applying it on a clean and dry scalp is advised.


Can Hair Oil Be Applied After Minoxidil?

It is advised to apply Minoxidil first on a clean and dry scalp. After that, the medicine is left to get absorbed in the scalp for at least one hour or so. Only after that can a person apply oil to the hair.

Last reviewed at:
01 Sep 2022  -  4 min read




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