Facts about Minoxidil

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Minoxidil is a drug that is used for treating male-pattern baldness. Oral minoxidil was originally used for treating high blood pressure, but patients and health care providers noticed that hair growth was a side effect of treatment. This led to the development of topical (solution applied to the skin) minoxidil for the treatment of male-pattern baldness. The mechanism of action leading to growth of hair is unknown.


PREPARATIONS: Solution: 2% and 5%

STORAGE: Minoxidil should be stored at room temperature, 20-25 C (68-77 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Minoxidil is used to treat male-pattern baldness. In women, it is used to treat diffuse loss of hair or thinning of hair in the frontal areas of the scalp.

DOSING: Minoxidil should be applied as 1 ml of solution to dry hair and scalp once in the morning and again in the evening. It should be spread evenly over the affected areas, and then the hands should be washed with warm water (if the hands are used for application). Minoxidil must be applied on the scalp at least twice daily and for at least four months to see results. Minoxidil works less well in patients that are older, have larger areas of baldness, and have been bald for longer periods of time. Minoxidil should be applied to a dry scalp only, and left in place for at least four hours. Minoxidil must be continued in order to maintain or increase the hair growth achieved.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Minoxidil should not be used with other topical medications because they may increase its absorption and side effects.

PREGNANCY: Minoxidil should not be used in pregnancy because it has not been studied adequately in pregnant women.

NURSING MOTHERS: Minoxidil should not be used by nursing women because it has not been evaluated adequately in nursing mothers.

SIDE EFFECTS: Adverse reactions include irritation of the skin, itching, contact dermatitis, and dryness of the scalp or flaking. An increase in the absorption of minoxidil from the scalp can occur in patients with damaged skin, leading to increased side effects. Minoxidil contains alcohol that can irritate the eyes. In case of accidental contact with eyes or other sensitive areas, the exposed area should be washed with cool water.

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