Saturday, July 20, 2024
Health

Combating Hair Thinning: Minoxidil as a Viable Solution

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If you’ve been experiencing hair loss or hair thinning, you may have already explored various treatment options. From oral medications to surgeries to lasers to injections, you might even be a little freaked out by the options.

The good news is that most hair loss treatments are completely safe and relatively non-invasive. But minoxidil might be the best choice if you’re just getting started on your hair loss prevention journey. Available as a topical foam or solution, all you have to do is rub it into your scalp.

Minoxidil is affordable, easy to obtain, and has a pretty low risk of side effects to boot. Read on to learn more about minoxidil as a potential treatment option for thinning hair loss.

Minoxidil’s Effectiveness

Along with finasteride, minoxidil is one of just two FDA-approved treatments for male pattern baldness (aka androgenetic alopecia). Available in doses of 2% and 5%, it’s a very effective treatment for preventing hair thinning and encouraging regrowth. In fact, the average male minoxidil user will experience about 30% regrowth of thinning hair or areas of hair loss.

Effective as it is, minoxidil doesn’t necessarily work for all kinds of hair loss or hair thinning. Studies haven’t shown definitively, for example, that it can restore hair growth in patients who’ve had chemotherapy.

Minoxidil is sometimes used off-label to treat other types of hair loss besides androgenetic alopecia. It has shown mixed results for people with hair loss due to autoimmune responses, stress, infections, chemicals, or burns.

Benefits of Minoxidil vs. Other Hair Loss Treatments

Minoxidil is a good choice for people who want to take a more conservative approach toward hair loss prevention. More aggressive treatments, like other medications or surgery, while effective, can come with some risks.

Finasteride, for instance, though very safe and effective, carries a small risk of mental health and sexual side effects. And patients who have hair restoration surgery may experience some lingering discomfort after the procedure.

Minoxidil, in addition to being somewhat less risky and invasive, is also more affordable than some treatment options. Monthly subscriptions can even make the already low cost especially manageable.

Another benefit of minoxidil is that it can be safely used by just about anyone. It’s safe for all hair types, all genders, and for people who color their hair. (Though if you do dye your hair, there’s a slightly increased risk of irritation or sensitivity of the scalp.)

Potential Side Effects of Minoxidil

While safer than many other topical medications, minoxidil can still cause a few infrequent side effects. These include irritation, skin rash, headaches, dizziness, and — in rare cases — blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain.

Some people who shouldn’t use minoxidil include those with certain cardiovascular conditions. People with eczema, psoriasis, or other skin conditions on the scalp could experience irritation or other symptoms.

If you have certain types of tumors, minoxidil might cause you to experience higher than normal blood pressure. Counterintuitively, in most people, minoxidil actually tends to lower peoples’ blood pressure. It’s sometimes even prescribed to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients.

A very small number of minoxidil users experience something called postural or orthostatic hypotension. This means their blood pressure drops dangerously low when they stand up from sitting or sit up from lying down.

One other side effect of minoxidil is that it can cause new hair growth in areas where hair might be unwelcome. When using minoxidil, don’t let it get on parts of your body where you don’t want hair to grow. If you spill a bit, be sure to wipe it up and rise the area right away.

Who Shouldn’t Use Minoxidil

If you’re already bald or have experienced significant hair loss, minoxidil probably isn’t right for you. Minoxidil works by stimulating regrowth in working hair follicles that aren’t getting enough blood supply to grow healthy hair. But it won’t cure baldness or restore dead follicles.

If you’re over age 65 or under age 18, minoxidil also isn’t a good idea. It’s not as effective in people who’ve been losing hair for a long time. And it might not be safe for younger folks, and older people who have contraindicated medications or medical conditions.

For older patients or those with more advanced hair loss, hair transplant surgery might be a better option. Hair restoration works well for people who still have plenty of hair on the sides and back of their scalps.

If you’re pregnant or nursing, you probably shouldn’t use minoxidil, because it could hurt the fetus or infant. That said, some doctors advise patients that it is safe to resume minoxidil use while breastfeeding older babies.

Using Minoxidil Correctly

To work properly, minoxidil needs to be applied to the scalp twice every day, usually morning and night. It will only start to show results after at least a few months of consistent application.

In order to keep seeing results, keep applying minoxidil for as long as you want to keep your new hair. Minoxidil stops working — and your hair can start shedding — if you stop using it for even short periods of time.

To make it easier to keep up with regular minoxidil application, consider getting a monthly subscription. Having minoxidil delivered to your home can help ensure you never miss a dose.