What is Minoxidil?

minoxidil dispenser

Minoxidil initially started out as an oral drug (Loniten®) developed to treat high blood pressure. When health care providers noticed an interesting side effect of increased hair growth in unexpected places such as foreheads, backs of hands and cheeks, the drug was further developed into a topical solution that could be applied directly on the scalp in order to treat male pattern baldness, hair loss in both men and women, and thinning or diffuse loss of hair along the frontal areas of the scalp in women. The FDA approved Minoxidil for use in August 1988.

What is Rogaine®?

Rogaine® is a commercial topical hair loss treatment product, in which the main active ingredient is minoxidil. While there are no detailed explanations as to how minoxidil works exactly, the drug is said to be a “vasodilator” and works by dilating the blood vessels in the scalp, thus possibly improving the overall function and growth of the hair follicle due to the increased blood flow to the area. Minoxidil prolongs the amount of time that hair spends in the “active phase” of hair growth (anagen phase). Minoxidil does not stop hair thinning or make hair thicker. Since minoxidil does not directly address the hormonal aspect of hair loss, the results are at best temporary.

Rogaine for Men & Women


Rogaine for men comes in the form of a topical solution and topical foam, both containing 5% minoxidil, whereas Rogaine for women comes in a 2% minoxidil topical solution, and a 5% minoxidil topical foam. Both types of products work to treat hair loss, differing only in the concentration and method of application. It is strongly advised that Rogaine be used only according to its specifications.

Proper Use of Rogaine

Rogaine for men should be used once a day. One dose is roughly ½ capful of foam and should be gently massaged into the area of the scalp where hair thinning is apparent.

The foam should then be allowed to dry. If using the topical solution, one should only apply 1mL of the solution twice daily and let dry. Rogaine for women follows the same procedure.

It’s important to note that Rogaine must be used continuously in order for it to be effective, and must never be used in amounts more than indicated. If used properly, one can expect to experience some hair shedding first, followed by the appearance of regrowth in 4 months. If use of minoxidil is discontinued, increased hair growth from its use is lost after 6 t0 9 months. Generally speaking, once use is started, it must continued for effects to be sustained.

Limitations of Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Some medicines may interact with Rogaine, therefore, in order to avoid any complications, it is important to inform your doctor of the following:

  • If you have any allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • If you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal medicine, or dietary supplements
  • If you have any scalp diseases, such as eczema, or any infections
  • If you have any history of heart, blood pressure, or blood vessel problems (chest pain, heart failure, etc.)
  • If you have kidney or liver disease

Side Effects of Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Minoxidil topical foam and solution have been known to cause certain side effects in users, though these side effects may not be limited to the brand Rogaine. Keep in mind that if your doctor has prescribed this medication, it means that he or she has deemed that, in your case, the benefits of the drug significantly outweigh its side effects.

Some side effects can include the following:

  • Burning, stinging, redness, or development of acne at the application site
  • Itching or skin rash
  • Facial hair growth
  • Facial swelling
  • Sudden increased hair loss
  • Inflammation or soreness at hair roots

In very rare cases, minoxidil can be absorbed through the skin and into the body and cause more serious side effects. While a serious allergic reaction to this medication is extremely rare, they can include the following:

  • Flushing
  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Fainting or lightheadedness
  • Unusual, rapid weight gain
  • Severe dizziness or headache
  • Blurred vision or other changes in vision
  • Numbness or tingling of hands, feet, or face
  • Difficulty breathing especially when lying down.
  • Swelling of hands, feet, face, tongue, throat, or lower legs