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Should you use minoxidil to fight hair loss? A dermatologist shares insights

Published on:10 June 2021, 11:14am IST
Minoxidil is often recommended for treating hair fall and damage and so, we asked an expert on how safe it is to use.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Find out if minoxidil is safe to manage hair fall. mage courtesy: Shutterstock
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As you age, one of the biggest beauty issues is hair fall. From your shoulder to the bathroom drain, you may find hair strands all around you. It’s only natural to try various approaches to fix the issue, be it hair massages, spa sessions, or keratin treatments. However, if nothing seems to work, then it is advisable to consult a dermatologist who would probably advise you to use minoxidil. 

So, before you try out the product, how about we unravel its efficacy and safety, through the advice of an expert dermatologist. 

What is minoxidil?

According to Dr Ajay Rana, a renowned dermatologist and aesthetic physician, minoxidil is a class of drugs known as vasodilators. Minoxidil is considered as a prescription drug that’s only available in a generic form. It comes as an oral tablet, although it may be taken as part of a combination therapy. It may be used with other drugs to treat hair loss, high blood pressure, or drugs used to reduce the side effects of minoxidil.

Hair fall is inevitable. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Using minoxidil

“Minoxidil, whether in the form of solution or foam, is used to help hair growth in the treatment of male pattern baldness. But it is not recommended for baldness at the front of the scalp or receding hairline in men. The foam and some percent of minoxidil solution is also used to help to boost hair growth in women with thinning hair,” suggests Dr Rana. 

Topical minoxidil is used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (AGA). This medication is used to treat several hair disorders such as alopecia areata (AA), scarring alopecia, and hair shaft disorders as well as to boost the growth of hair in different parts of the body including the eyebrows and beard.

The correct way to use minoxidil

Before using minoxidil, consult your dermatologist. First of all, it is always necessary to clean and dry the scalp area before applying the medication and apply this product to damp hair. 

To use the solution, fill the applicator with 15-20 drops of medication. Part your hair in the area of thinning and apply the solution evenly to the affected area of the scalp and rub it gently. After this, allow the solution to dry completely before using other styling products or before going to bed. 

To use minoxidil in the form of foam, rinse your hands in cold water and dry it properly. After this, apply about half a cupful of foam to the scalp and rub it gently. Then keep it like that for a few minutes. This allows the foam to dry before styling. Do not use it on other parts of the body without the guidance of a dermatologist. Do not use it on skin that is red, painful, irritated, scraped, cut or infected. 

Try out minoxidil to give your hair some volume but only after recommendation. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Remember to wash hands thoroughly after application and avoid getting the medication in your eyes. 

The big question: Is minoxidil safe to use?

It is considered safe for people above 18 years of age. Dr Rana states that “it is considered best for the people dealing with hair disorders. It relaxes and enlarges certain small blood vessels in the body so that blood flows through them more easily. This helps to reduce blood pressure. This component can be used topically with hair loss treatment shampoos that can stimulate oxygen and blood flow to the hair follicles.” 

It also helps to deliver the nutrients directly to the hair follicles. It slows hair loss, prompts hair follicles to produce hair again, lengthens the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, revitalizes blood circulation in small blood vessels and helps to produce thicker hair.

Side effects to watch out for 

Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, changes in facial and body hair. You may also notice hair becoming darker and thicker on the face and upper body. Additionally, redness on the application site, fast and irregular heartbeat, fainting, burning sensation, chest pain, swelling of hands and feet, unusual weight gain, tiredness, difficulty in breathing especially when lying down are also some of the common side effects of minoxidil. 

There is nothing to worry though, as Dr Rana explains that, “these side effects are very mild, they may disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe then consult your dermatologist.” 

So, ladies, we hope to have cleared the air for you when it comes to using minoxidil. Be proactive about your hair care and consult a dermatologist before starting the treatment.

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.