Minoxidil is a vasodilator, a chemical agent that is used to widen blood vessels. As a vasodilator, it was 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 took it had experienced hair growth in their body. 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 get prescription, which is usually more expensive than NHS prescription.
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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 triggers hair growth is not fully understood yet.
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 loss treatment. For many years, its Rogaine product gained prominence in the hair treatment industry.
A few decades ago, it was the only minoxidil-containing solution 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 ingredients.
In general, the use of 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 one of popular drugs 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 treatment for hair loss are in topical application. Rogaine is the first available medicine of this type. After its patent expired, various topical medicines containing minoxidil are available. Among those medicines are Apo-Gain, Gen-Minoxidol, Hairgo, Hair Regrowth Treatment, Med Minoxidil, and Minox.
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Minoxidil’s products are also distinguished by gender, in which men usually need a certain amount of minoxidil higher than what women need.
For men, it usually uses 5% of minoxidil. On the other hand, the concentration should be 2% for women. Stronger dose is also available with prescription.
Among the reasons why women shouldn’t use too much minoxidil is because they are more susceptible to side effects of minoxidil.
As mentioned before, the common version of minoxidil for hair loss treatment is with topical option, meaning it is applied topically (as a foam or liquid) to the affected area of the scalp.
The difference between foam and liquid minoxidil lies on the way they are applied. But some people say foam is more practical and easy to use.
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. The treatment area should be clean and dry before each use.
Rogaine usually takes a few months to see a difference, and this varies from person to person.
Other minoxidil brands are also likely to show the same level of effectiveness. What else?