Minoxidil is originally a vasodilator, a chemical agent that is used to widen blood vessels. As a vasodilator, it is originally used to treat high blood pressure. Researches show, though, that the administering of this medicine to the body may cause a side effect that is considered favourable: hair growth. People who take it are reported to have their hair grow more profusely and to get their fine hair to darken. It has since then been used to treat hair loss and baldness. But how long does it take to see the improvement of hair growth?
In the United Kingdom, hair loss medications that contain a certain amount of minoxidil are available as both over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs; however, their prescription has not been regulated by the National Health Service. Therefore, if patients need a particular drug that is only available with prescription, they have to try to get private prescription, which is usually more expensive than NHS prescription.
In the U.S, minoxidil and finasteride have been approved by the FDA. Even both are recommended for the first line treatment to treat receding hairline (early signal of male pattern baldness).
Minoxidil’s hair growth effect is believed to emerge from its function as a vasodilator. When blood vessels are relaxed and widened, there will be increased blood flow inside those vessels. One of the consequences of this activity is the promotion of new hair growth, which goes hand in hand with the stopping of hair loss process.
Oddly enough, the reason why the process of vasodilation can trigger hair growth is not yet fully understood.
It is even suggested that vasodilation by no means contributes to the promotion of hair growth. There is another thing still unknown in minoxidil that is believed to trigger this effect.
Upjohn Corporation is the first pharmaceutical company that patented minoxidil as a hair growth product. For many years, its Rogaine product gained prominence in the hair treatment industry.
Because this drug was a patented product, it was the only minoxidil-containing drug that was available at the market. This situation, however, was effective only until 1996, when the patent expired. Since then, many pharmaceutical companies have distributed a large variety of hair growth products that have minoxidil as their primary component. Those generic products may have similar composition to that of Rogaine and may also have additional components, such as herbal components, added to them.
In general, drugs containing minoxidil can be categorized into two types: those that are taken orally and those that are used by using topical route.
Drugs that are taken orally are usually drugs that are taken as vasodilators. Loniten is the most popular drug of this type.
Loniten is a medicine that is taken primarily as a medicine to treat high blood pressure. Its hair growth effect is just a secondary effect that is discovered later.
Most popular minoxidil-containing medicines to treat hair loss are in topical option that is applied externally. Rogaine is the first available medicine of this type. After its patent expired, various topical medicines containing minoxidil has appeared. Among those medicines are Apo-Gain, Gen-Minoxidol, Hairgo, Hair Regrowth Treatment, Med Minoxidil, and Minox.
Minoxidil’s products are also distinguished according to their users’ gender. Men need a certain amount of minoxidil to treat their hair loss that is different from that for women.
For men, it should contain about 5% of minoxidil. For women, on the other hand, the concentration should not exceed 2%.
Among the reasons why women shouldn’t use too much minoxidil is because they are more susceptible to certain side effects of minoxidil and because minoxidil promotes the growth of facial hair.
As mentioned before, the common version of minoxidil for hair loss treatment is with topical option. Minoxidil is therefore meant to be applied externally to the affected area of the scalp.
There are two types of topical Minoxidil that are available at the market: foam and liquid minoxidil. The difference between foam and liquid minoxidil lies on the way they are applied.
To apply liquid minoxidil, a dropper is needed. Foam minoxidil, on the other hand, can be applied directly to the affected scalp by using fingertips. May Clinic specialists recommend that the scalp or hair, which minoxidil is applied to, be completely dry.
If Rogaine is used in the hair treatment, it takes about four months before the expected result of the treatment can be seen. Other minoxidil products also show the same level of effectiveness.