Does Minoxidil Have Side Effects?
Minoxidil, or Rogaine if you prefer to go by the most famous brand name, is an industry leading standard for hair growth. It is scientifically proven to help reduce hall fall and increase hair growth by a not inconsiderable amount. Best of all, it’s an over-the-counter medication, so you don’t need to ask for a prescription. It seems fantastic, doesn’t it?
Don’t go buying Minoxidil right now though! There are a few things you might not know. Like all products with a medical intention, there are side effects. ‘So what?’ We hear you think, they probably not too bad, and the chances of developing a side effect aren’t going to be high. Who would use Minoxidil if they knew they were likely to develop a side effect?
In order to properly understand Minoxidil, let’s dig a little deeper and find out a little more information about it.
The History of Minoxidil
The compound we now know as Minoxidil has its roots in, of all things, an ulcer treatment. It proved ineffective at treating ulcers, but it turned out to be an impressive vasodilator, meaning that it can dilate red blood vessels and lower blood pressure. By 1979 the FDA would approve oral minoxidil tablets to treat high blood pressure, but we’re interested in what happened before this.
During the testing required to be approved by the FDA the lead doctors soon noticed something interesting: people were starting to grow back their hair. Naturally, behind the scenes there was a lawsuit going on between two different groups who had discovered this side effect. However, it soon became such open knowledge that Minoxidil helped regrow hair that doctors were prescribing it for off-label use.
Minoxidil’s official history as a topical application to help hair regrow starts in 1988.
Yes, minoxidil exists because doctors wanted to treat hypertension. We are not going to make such illogical statements as ‘you shouldn’t take minoxidil because it was conceived of as a high blood pressure medication, so it’s actually unsafe’; medications can be prescribed for multiple illnesses. It’s so common that you don’t even realise it.
So is Minoxidil Safe?
This is another loaded question that we, unfortunately, can’t answer with a simple yes or no. For one, while Minoxidil is primarily a topical application, some places in the UK do prescribe a very low dose of oral Minoxidil under rare circumstances. In this section, we’ll break it down into topical minoxidil and oral minoxidil taken specifically for hair loss.
There are certain groups of people who should avoid taking this medication, and several others who should consult their doctor before using Minoxidil even though it’s an over-the-counter medication. This is especially true for people taking high blood pressure medication such as guanethidine.
There is only one other group of people who should avoid Minoxidil. Pregnant and breastfeeding people should know that the FDA has given Minoxidil a category C rating, advising that it may be dangerous for unborn children whether taken topically or orally. Out of the four recorded births known to have happened while the parent was taking Minoxidil, two developed congenital abnormalities. While these have only happened with people taking oral Minoxidil, it is still in the inadvisable category for pregnant or breastfeeding people.
That said, we can say that Minoxidil is probably safe for most people.
Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss
Oral Minoxidil can comes with several quite severe side effects:
- fluid retention
- increased heart rate
- chest pains
- shortness of breath
- low blood pressure leading to dizziness or fainting
- increased body hair growth
- skin rashes
- tenderness of the breasts
- abnormalities in blood tests
- hair shedding
- potential congenital abnormalities
One hospital in the UK suggests that anyone taking oral Minoxidil for hair loss have their pulse and blood pressure checked every time they visit a doctor, perform extra checks on your blood test, and possibly an ECG as well.
Oral Minoxidil for hair loss is taken in extremely small doses: 0.625mg per day. That’s roughly a quarter of a tablet with the intent to reduce the dangers of oral Minoxidil whilst ensuring that the hair growth effects are kept.
Pregnant and breastfeeding people, those with heart problems, phaechromocytoma, porphyria or acute kidney problems should not take oral Minoxidil, nor should people taking high blood pressure medication.
Does Topical Minoxidil Have Side Effects?
Topical Minoxidil’s side effects are well-known among scientists and researchers; fortunately enough, most of them are relatively harmless. On the other hand, several of them can be fairly common. One 2012 study even listed side effects as common.
Skin irritation on or near the application site
By far and away the most common side effect, this is caused by two agents in many of the products that use Minoxidil: propylene glycol and alcohol. These ingredients have a drying effect on both scalp and hair, sometimes causing a mild burning pain or skin rash on your scalp. People with dry skin, sensitive skin or contact dermatitis may be more likely to suffer from skin irritation.
The Mayo Clinic also warns about not using Minoxidil any sooner than twenty-four hours after a hair treatment, and it may be due to the skin irritation Minoxidil may cause.
If skin irritation persists for a long time, then you should stop taking Minoxidil and seek out something else.
Increased hair loss
Amusingly, you may suffer from increased hair loss during the first six weeks of using the product because of the precise way that Minoxidil encourages hair growth. This means that those who are especially sensitive about their appearance may want to use another product if they think that they cannot handle additional emotional and social stress.
Unwanted facial/bodily hair
As Minoxidil is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, there’s a chance that it will cause hair growth in other parts of the body. This is easily treatable by shaving, waxing or other methods, but we nonetheless are aware of the fact that unwanted facial hair can be humiliating.
Some of us at Volugenix know full well what it is like to have children innocently insult you by asking about your ‘beard’. Just this side effect alone would lead this PCOS sufferer to avoid Minoxidil.
In some rare cases, Minoxidil can cause acne, especially on the scalp and forehead. This may be a result of usage for a long time or excessive usage causing a build-up on the scalp and clogging pores this way.
Additional Side Effects from Overuse
These stem from excessive use of Minoxidil, so we’re listing these in a separate section. Among others, overuse of Minoxidil may cause:
- irregular heartbeat
- chest pains
- swelling of the face, hands, feet or legs
- rapid weight gain
Most of these effects originate from the fact that Minoxidil was initially developed as a medicine to control high blood pressure. As such, should any of these symptoms occur repeatedly or for a long period of time, you should instantly stop using Minoxidil and seek out a doctor.
This may be a little cheeky, but it’s still worth considering. Minoxidil is rather expensive and in order to keep any new hair growth and thickness, it should be used for indefinitely. Depending on the product you want and the concentration of Minoxidil in it, you may end up spending a lot of money maintaining your new hair growth.
Minoxidil must be applied twice a day over the affected area. For people who are very busy, such as parents working long shifts, full-time students working a full-time job and others, this may be more effort than it’s worth to have to deal with.
Who Shouldn’t Use Minoxidil?
Anyone with sensitive skin or people with heart, kidney or liver problems should avoid Minoxidil just to be safe. As always, anyone on medication wanting to take another form of medication or supplement should take to their healthcare provider first to make sure that everything is safe.
Additionally, most studies show that Minoxidil has the best results on younger men in the early stages of hair loss, notably those suffering from male pattern baldness. Older men may not get the same results as other users of Minoxidil do. The same pattern applies to women as well.
While we’re on this topic, we want to take a moment to address this. PCOS sufferers also suffer from hair loss due to an excess of androgen produced in the body. Finding that the world-leading hair regrowth product Minoxidil could cause an increase in facial hair is a little cruel.
We who have PCOS already have to deal with thinning hair, facial growth and potential weight gain/increased likelihood of gaining weight. Seeking to alleviate the more obvious effects of this hidden illness can be quite expensive even if it’s just shaving frequently.
Now that we know that Minoxidil might worsen physical effects of PCOS, we would recommend that PCOS sufferers seek out alternative ways of regrowing hair.
What Should I Take Instead?
Okay, so you’re interested in trying another product; one with even more safety than Minoxidil. What products are widely available without prescription? There’s actually quite a few of them if you know what to look for. Namely, you want to look for Redensyl in the list of ingredients.
Redensyl is a newer compound that is gaining more ground in the hair regrowth industry. Invented by Induchem containing the molecules DHQC and EGCG2. DHQC and EGCG2 are both DHT blockers. DHT is a key chemical that causes the thinning of the hair follicle root. By blocking DHT these two molecules help reduce the impact that DHT has on the hair follicles themselves. On top of this, DHQC encourages the growth of hair follicles and ECGC2 soothes the scalp. By soothing the scalp, it increases the likelihood of hair growing to a substantial length.
Looking into the literature, we find two different studies that compared Redensyl to Minoxidil. Both of these studies came out with Redensyl as the superior product. In both the short- and long-term Redensyl saw twice the amount of hair growth compared to Minoxidil.
Even better, we have not found any noticeable side effects mentioned in any of the studies performed on Redensyl.
To sum up, we find that Minoxidil has just enough side effects to make us concerned for some of the primary users. Anyone with sensitive skin, dermatitis or psoriasis should avoid using Minoxidil in case it causes rashes or irritation.
Volugenix’s hair styling cream contains redensyl as an active ingredient along with zinc and glycine to help make the hair follicle stronger and more likely to withstand the stresses of environmental pollution and day-to-day wear and tear.
It is easy to apply and can add volume and thickness to your hair’s appearance. It has the additional bonus of being able to create an array of styles, doing two jobs in one. We find it a very good product for anyone who has a busy schedule. On top of that, the additional volume the styling cream supplies helps to mask any thin areas until hair thickening kicks in.
In terms of price, Volugenix’s hair styling cream is comparable with mid-range products containing Minoxidil, but without any additional concerns. If you’re not satisfied with your results, then we’re happy to offer you your money back if you let us know within thirty days of buying the hair styling cream.