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Get hair aware & familiarise yourself with the side effects of taking minoxidil as a treatment for male & female pattern baldness
Minoxidil is a medicine that's used to help prevent further hair loss and help hair regrowth in people with male and female pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). This is the most common type of progressive hair loss, affecting about half of men over 50.
What is minoxidil?
Minoxidil was discovered by accident during trials for a high blood-pressure treatment, when it showed signs of being able to regrow hair.
Minoxidil-based products are applied to the scalp. They work by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles, which stimulates and prolongs hair growth. Minoxidil products are available without a prescription and come in liquid or foam form, containing either a 5% or 2% concentration. They're not available on the NHS.
Minoxidil can be used by both men and women, but there are different products specifically designed for each.
What are the side effects of minoxidil?
As with all medicines, there can be potential side effects to taking minoxidil. While not everyone will experience them, there is a risk of the following side effects.
Common side effects
Common side effects include headaches, unwanted hair growth on body or face and itching.
Other side effects include:
Changes to the hair
One side effect is changes to the nature of newly-grown hair.
An uncommon side effect of minoxidil is increased hair loss, usually in the early stages of treatment.
Skin irritation (allergic contact dermatitis)
Minoxidil treatments are applied once or twice daily to the same patches of scalp, sometimes for long periods of time. Certain products contain a chemical called propylene glycol, which aids absorption. However, some people can react to this chemical.
If you have a reaction to minoxidil, stop using it and speak to your GP or pharmacist. For the full list of side effects, read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.
Can anyone use minoxidil?
It's recommended that certain people don’t use minoxidil hair loss products, including:
• Under 18s and over 65s
• Pregnant women
• Breastfeeding women
• People with high blood pressure
• People who have conditions which affect the scalp
• People with a shaved scalp
• Completely bald people
If you have a medical condition, or if you're not sure if minoxidil is suitable for you, speak to your pharmacist or GP before using it.
Additionally, if you're taking any other medicines, you should speak to your pharmacist or visit your GP before using minoxidil. When combined with certain medicines, such as diltiazem or hydralazine, there’s an increased risk of low blood pressure.
If minoxidil isn’t an option for you, but you’re feeling low about your hair loss, reach out to your GP for support and advice on alternative treatments.
• Speak with your GP or pharmacist if you're unsure whether minoxidil is suitable for you or not
• Don’t use minoxidil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding
• Speak to your pharmacist or GP if you experience side effects while taking minoxidil
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