Minoxidil for Women: A Guide
There are many hair loss treatments available to women, but minoxidil is one of the most popular. Approved by the FDA to treat both male and female pattern baldness, minoxidil is easy to use for both men and women. Learn more about minoxidil and how you can use it for maximum effectiveness.
What is minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a topical, over-the-counter drug prepared in the form of a liquid, foam, spray, or tablet. The active ingredient is minoxidil sulfate. It was first used to treat high blood pressure before the FDA approved minoxidil as a treatment for hair loss. Now minoxidil is one of the primary medications to grow new hair and prevent hair loss. It is also the main ingredient in Rogaine, a popular treatment to grow hair and prevent hair loss.
What is minoxidil's active ingredient?
The active ingredient in minoxidil is called minoxidil sulfate, a potassium nitrate that stimulates hair follicles. It is a vasodilator, which means it causes blood vessels to widen. This widening can increase blood flow and make more oxygen rich blood available in the scalp. Minoxidil, when applied topically, has been found to stimulate hair growth.
How do you use minoxidil?
The most popular way for women to apply minoxidil to the scalp is using the liquid topical solution daily. You can apply the solution directly to the affected areas. If preferred, you can also use your fingers to apply the solution. Make sure to wash your hands after application.
It can take at least three months to see results, so patience is key. You’ll want to use minoxidil for at least four months to see whether it works for you.
What are the side effects of minoxidil?
Like most medications, there are some common side effects associated with the use of minoxidil for women.
The most common side effects are:
- Skin irritation
- Scalp dryness
- Temporary hair shedding
- Hair growth in untreated areas
In rare cases, minoxidil may cause more serious complications such as swelling in the face and neck or fluid retention which causes swelling in the hands and feet.
Minoxidil can also cause a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate when standing up too quickly, potentially leading to fainting episodes. It's more commonly seen if you have low blood pressure or high blood sugar, but can occur even if these levels are within normal range.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid minoxidil. The drug is listed as a category C pregnancy drug that hasn’t been tested to be safe for fetal development.
Talk with your doctor about use, changes in dosage, and how often to apply before starting treatment.
Can women effectively use minoxidil?
Yes! Minoxidil is a potent medication that can stimulate growth in all hair follicles on the scalp and certain other areas of the body like eyebrows, eyelashes, or any other place you have hair.
Women most commonly use minoxidil to help post pregnancy hair loss or to treat thinning hair if you have female pattern baldness.
It will take several months to see new hair growth, and six to 12 months for the full effect. Studies show that 60% of women report an increase in hair growth using minoxidil.
Does minoxidil work on alopecia?
Minoxidil was originally prescribed by dermatologists for men suffering from male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia. Now minoxidil is also available without a prescription for women with androgenic alopecia (the same name as men’s androgenic alopecia), also called female pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss. There's evidence that minoxidil helps treat alopecia in women. The drug is highly effective at stimulating hair growth and enriching the hair follicle. Still, it is not a cure. When you stop using minoxidil your hair will return to its previous condition.
Where is minoxidil available?
Minoxidil is available over-the-counter in pharmacies, stores, and online.
You should talk to your doctor before using minoxidil and while taking the drug to monitor potential side effects.
You can purchase minoxidil and other products conveniently through these websites:
Hers - Hers is the sister brand of Hims and is geared towards female health. They have the same discreet shipping, product guarantees, and consultations as Hims.
Shapiro MD - Shapiro MD offers access to top experts and women's hair loss treatments that are simple and affordable.