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How Does Minoxidil Work?

After all these years, we still don’t know the exact mechanism, just that it works to help slow and prevent loss.

I Tried It Years Ago and Nothing Grew.

When Minoxidil first came on the market it was as a hair regrowth treatment for men. It didn’t work well and mostly grew “peach-fuzz”. It was also expensive. Expensive and ineffective is a bad combination.

What’s Different With Minoxidil Now?

Several things. We now know that its best use in men is to prevent future loss. This means that to get any benefit, you have to use it before the hair is lost. When used in the newer 5% concentration, results are even better. We also know that it is the best medication treatment for women, producing better results than in men. The other difference is that it is now much cheaper.

How Fast Does It Work?

Several months may be needed to see the effect of Minoxidil. Serial examinations and photographs are needed to track progress.

How Do You Use Minoxidil?

The solution must be applied on the scalp twice per day. Using it only once is usually a waste of time. With simple techniques, this can be done in less than a minute and won’t affect hairstyling. Dr. Elliott will show you how to apply it easily.

If It’s Topical, Then There Are No Side Effects, Right?

Not quite. Side effects are not common but can be a red rash in the areas treated. This is usually not an allergy, but sensitivity to the solution that the medication is dissolved in. This often improves, or a pharmacy can prepare Minoxidil in a different solution which doesn’t cause the rash.

Can It Make My Hair Loss Worse?

No, it won’t. However, in some patients, there may be increased hair shedding between 4 and 6 weeks after starting. This actually represents new hairs (follicles starting new anagen cycles). The new hairs push old resting telogen hairs out of the follicles. This means the treatment works. The new hairs take some time to grow out to styling length. This may mean things get a little worse before they get better. When treatment is being supervised, your doctor will reassure you that nothing is wrong.

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