Minoxidil – Treatment for Hair Loss

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Androgenetic alopecia is a prevalent hair loss condition and is commonly referred to as male patterned baldness1. As its name suggests, this hair loss disorder occurs more frequently in men (70% prevalence) as compared to women (40% prevalence)1. Patients with this condition display miniaturized hair follicles, possibly caused by a genetic susceptibility related to the presence of certain hormones, preventing the follicle from producing hair2.

Minoxidil is an approved treatment for androgenetic alopecia3,4. Minoxidil is available as either a solution or foam and is applied directly onto the scalp. The foam application is the preferred option as minoxidil solutions can contain proplene glycol, a known skin irritant. This irritant can led to severe itching and/or dandruff5. Minoxidil solutions can also make your hair feel greasy and can make styling difficult5. Higher concentrations (5%) are desired as lower minoxidil concentrations (2%) require more frequent application (once a day application vs. twice a day application, respectively).

Both men and women can use minoxidil. Minoxidil (5%) treated women displayed higher amounts of hair (p<0.001), had greater  scalp coverage (p=0.001) and better patient assessment results (p<0.001) as compared to placebo treated women after 48 weeks of therapy7. Additionally, in men minoxidil foam can increase the average hair count as evident in a before-and-after trial8.  Minoxidil is also not associated with serious adverse effects. Non-serious adverse effects associated with 2% or 3% minoxidil treated patients are similar to placebo treated patients after 4 months of treatment6.

Minoxidil should be applied as prescribed since results may not be noticeable until 3 to 6 months of treatment is reached. If you have any questions or concerns when using this product, be sure to speak with your doctor.

Article by: Sarah Versteeg MSc, Mediprobe Research Inc. 

  1. Santos Z, Avci P, Hamblin MR. Drug discovery for alopecia: gone today, hair tomorrow. Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2015 Mar;10(3):269–92.
  2. Kaufman KD. Androgens and alopecia. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Dec 30;198(1-2):89–95.
  3. Product Monograph. Hair Regrowth Forumula. Minoxidil Topical Solution USP 20 mg/mL (2% w/v) [Internet]. Health Canada. Drug Product Database. 2016 [cited 2016 Oct 6]. Available from: file:///C:/Users/sversteeg/Downloads/PM00033538.PDF
  4. Men’s Rogaine. 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol. Hair Regrowth Treatment. [Internet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2015 [cited 2016 Oct 6]. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/021812s000LBL.pdf
  5. Blume-Peytavi U, Hillmann K, Dietz E, Canfield D, Garcia Bartels N. A randomized, single-blind trial of 5% minoxidil foam once daily versus 2% minoxidil solution twice daily in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in women. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Dec;65(6):1126–34.e2.
  6. Spindler JR. The safety of topical minoxidil solution in the treatment of pattern baldness: the results of a 27-center trial. Clin Dermatol. 1988 Dec;6(4):200–12.
  7. Lucky AW, Piacquadio DJ, Ditre CM, Dunlap F, Kantor I, Pandya AG, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Apr;50(4):541–53.
  8. Hasanzadeh H, Nasrollahi S, Halavati N, Saberi M, Firooz A. Efficacy and safety of 5% minoxidil topical foam in male pattern hair loss treatment and patient satisfaction. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Pannonica Adriat. 2016 Sep;25(3):41–4.
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