Does minoxidil actually work against hair loss
This is how minoxidil works
Lowering of blood pressure
As a drug against high blood pressure (antihypertensive), Minoxidil dilates the blood vessels distant from the heart: The active ingredient relaxes the muscles in the vessel walls, causing them to widen - blood pressure drops.
As a blood pressure lowering agent, the active ingredient is taken orally in tablet form and almost completely absorbed into the blood in the intestine. After an hour, the blood level of the active ingredient reaches its maximum. Minoxidil is mainly broken down in the liver into ineffective, water-soluble metabolic products and then excreted in the urine via the kidneys. About four hours after ingestion, half of the active ingredient is broken down and excreted.
Minoxidil is used externally as a solution or foam to promote hair growth in the event of hair loss. The mechanism of action is not yet fully understood. Experts suspect that the effect is partly due to an increase in blood flow to the scalp.
When is Minoxidil used?
The main area of application of Minoxidil is therapy-resistant high blood pressure, i.e. high blood pressure (hypertension) that cannot be treated with other antihypertensive drugs. Because of its side effects, minoxidil is usually used in combination with a dehydrating agent (diuretic) and a beta blocker.
As a topical, i.e. locally applied solution or foam, minoxidil is used in a certain form of hair loss, the so-called androgenetic alopecia. The course of hair loss and the inherent thinning of the scalp hair slows down, and increased hair growth can also be observed in some cases. The effect is lost again as soon as Minoxidil is discontinued.
Sometimes adolescents and young men try to use minoxidil to promote beard growth. This application takes place outside of the approval, ie "off-label".
This is how Minoxidil is used
Minoxidil is used for high blood pressure in the form of tablets. These are taken once or twice a day in a dosage determined by the doctor individually. The maximum daily dose is one hundred milligrams, but blood pressure can often be adjusted sufficiently well with lower doses.
In the case of hair loss, solutions with two percent minoxidil for women and five percent minoxidil for men as well as foams are used: The preparations are applied to the affected areas of the scalp twice a day. The solution usually contains propylene glycol as a viscosity enhancer to make it easier to use on the scalp.
What are the side effects of minoxidil?
Possible side effects of Minoxidil when used as a blood pressure reducer are changes in the electrocardiogram (such as palpitations), inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis), accumulation of fluid in the pericardium (pericardial effusions), water retention in the tissue (edema) and hypertrichosis - an increased growth of body hair, for example on the face, on the back and on the arms, sometimes with changes in the color of the hair.
In the course of lowering blood pressure, if the dose is too high or the dose is increased too quickly, dizziness, drowsiness and a feeling of weakness can occur, especially at the start of therapy.
Since only a small part of the active ingredient passes into the blood when applied topically to the scalp, the side effects also apply to a lesser extent to Minoxidil foam and solution. In addition, their use can cause irritation and inflammation of the skin.
What should be considered when taking minoxidil?
Simultaneous use of drugs against psychoses (neuroleptics) can lead to an increased decrease in blood pressure.
So far, only limited data are available on minoxidil use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In animal experiments, the active ingredient has been shown to impair reproduction (toxic to reproduction). It also passes into breast milk.
If minoxidil is absolutely necessary as a blood pressure lowering agent in children under 12 years of age, this should only be done in hospital and under strict medical supervision.
How to get minoxidil medication
All minoxidil preparations for the therapy of high blood pressure require a prescription. In contrast, the solutions and foams for use on the scalp in the event of hair loss do not require a prescription, but only require a pharmacy and can therefore only be obtained from the pharmacy.
How long has Minoxidil been known?
Minoxidil was developed as a high blood pressure drug in the United States in the 1970s. Reports soon increased that the active ingredient also stimulates hair growth or stops existing hair loss. Since no drug was available for this until now, the pharmaceutical company Upjohn began promoting studies in 1977 on how minoxidil can combat hair loss. When these studies became known, the manufacturer received thousands of communications from the general public - the area of application seemed to be in great demand. Finally, in 1988, Minoxidil was approved in the United States as a hair loss remedy.
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