Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a clear answer? But, as is often the case with medical science, there is no clear answer regarding the effectiveness of Minoxidil for hair regrowth.
A truthful answer would be, “for a large number of patients, Minoxidil topical solution works very well.”
For someone considering using Minoxidil, a more helpful answer might be “given the reasonable cost and the relatively few side effects, it is worth trying.”
The best approach to answering this question is to provide you with the information you need to make a well-informed decision for yourself. In the following sections we will:
- Differentiate between Minoxidil and Minoxidil solution;
- Identify the ideal candidate for Minoxidil solution treatment;
- Discuss the history of Minoxidil solution;
- List findings regarding Minoxidil’s effectiveness;
- Clearly identify possible side effects;
- Explain how Minoxidil is used; and
- Provide a rough estimate of the cost of Minoxidil treatment.
We have our own very popular way to re-grow our hair by directly stimulating new hair growth, and combing this with an extremely effective way to remove DHT on the scalp.
In fact, most of the guys who try this method find it more effective than minoxidil. I would highly recommend looking at that guide now.
Differentiating Between Minoxidil And Minoxidil Solution
Minoxidil is what is known as an antihypertensive vasodilator medication; a drug developed to treat high blood pressure.
It was developed in 1963 by the Upjohn Company, and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1979 as a treatment for high blood pressure.
Evidence suggests that Minoxidil in its tablet form, taken orally, is effective in reducing blood pressure, however, the side effects can be severe, and Minoxidil is not recommended as a first line treatment for high blood pressure.
By contrast, the side effects of topical Minoxidil, if they appear at all, tend to be fairly mild, and may include irritation in the eye or on the treated area, hair growth on parts of the body not being treated, and possibly an allergic reactions.
Identify The Ideal Candidate For Minoxidil Solution Treatment
Minoxidil topical solution is designed to treat androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.
A diagnosis of male pattern baldness versus other causes of baldness such as lupus erythematosus and immune-mediated alopecia is needed, and is based primarily on patient and family history.
Factors to be considered in making the diagnosis include current and past medications, medical illness, stress, and the pattern and speed of hair loss; male pattern baldness is characterized by slow hair loss in an M pattern.
(Here are the early signs of male pattern baldness. More on if you’re going bald at 20.)
Up to thirds of men experience male pattern baldness, making it a normal variation in hair growth and one lacking serious health effects.
That does not mean it should not be taken seriously, since one half of balding patients have some sort of psychological reaction to their hair loss.
From 2001 to 2010 there were an estimated 2.6 million outpatient visits for male pattern baldness, and over $900 million is spent each year on hair loss.
The History Of Minoxidil Solution
Minoxidil has an interesting history. Developed in 1963 by the Upjohn Company, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1979 as a treatment for high blood pressure.
During the testing of Minoxidil, Dr. Chidsey, who was leading the research for Upjohn, noted unexpected and significant hair growth as a side effect in his studies. Chidsey mentioned these findings to Guinter Kahn.
As a result, Kahn and his colleague Paul Grant began researching the use of Minoxidil suspended in alcohol as a topical treatment for hair loss, independently from the Upjohn Company.
(The alcohol actually causes dryness and itching, which is why I recommend alcohol free minoxidil.)
The research by Kahn and Grant eventually led to 10-years of legal struggle between Kahn, Grant, and Upjohn over the rights to the product.
Eventually, in 1986, a patent was issued crediting Upjohn (in the form of Dr. Chidsey), as well as Kahn and Grant as the developers of the hair loss product.
Three years later, in 1988, the product was approved for treating male baldness in 1988, and in 1991 the product became available for women. Over-the-counter sales and generic versions of the treatment were approved in 1996.
Does It Work? – Studies On Its Effectiveness
What follows is a sample of the scientific findings regarding the effectiveness of Minoxidil solution.
In summary, they state that Minoxidil solution works for slightly less than half the people who use it, with almost no side effects.
Go here for more information on how long Rogaine takes to work.
Duke University (1990)
A study performed at Duke University, and published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, followed a group of 31 men over a period of five years. They found that hair regrowth peaked at 1 year, after which it began to slow.
Although the rate of regrowth slowed, at the five-year mark hair growth was still improved over the beginning levels.
Rietschel and Duncan (1987)
Rietschel and Duncan examined subjects who had used Minoxidil topical solution for 2.5 years.
32% of the men in the study had hair that grew long enough to be cut, and 36% were satisfied with the treatment, feeling that the results were worth the effort and cost.
European Findings (2016)
A study done in Germany examined the long term effects (104 weeks) of Minoxidil topical foam. The study began with a 24-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, followed by an 80-week, open-label extension phase.
1 group was given 5% MTF for 104 weeks, another group received a placebo topical foam until week 24, followed by5% Minoxidil solution for 80 weeks.
Hair growth was assessed at baseline and at weeks 24, 52, 76, and 104.
The authors concluded that “5% MTF is effective in stabilizing hair density, hair width and scalp coverage in both frontotemporal and vertex areas over an application period of 104 weeks, while showing a good safety and tolerability profile with a low rate of irritant contact dermatitis.”
Gupta and Charrette
Gupta and Charrette performed a systematic review of the existing research on Minoxidil solution, and concluded that there was a statistically significant effect in promoting hair growth. However, only some of subjects were pleased with their results, and a major issue seemed to be patient compliance with the treatment regimen.
None of the studies mentioned found significant side effects of topical Minoxidil.
If side effects appeared at all, they tended to be minor, and included irritation in the eye or on the treated area, hair growth on parts of the body not being treated, and possibly an allergic reactions.
One of the most frequent side effects is hair loss at the beginning of treatment. There is currently not enough evidence to decide of the safety of Minoxidil solution for children or pregnant women.
Although not a side effect in the terms in which we usually think of side effects, potential patients should be aware that the results are temporary. After discontinuing the use of Minoxidil solution, hair thickness returns to starting levels in a period of one to six months.
How To Use It
Minoxidil is applied topically twice a day. There are multiple types of Minoxidil applications: dropper, foam, and spray.
Although there are some precautions that must be taken – such as not getting ones hair wet immediately after application – Minoxidil solution is easy to apply and use.
Brands, Availability, & Cost
Over-the-counter sales and generic versions of the treatment were approved in 1996.
There are multiple types of applications: dropper, foam, cream, and spray, and costs for a month’s medication can vary from $11.75 at Walmart to $23.43 at Kmart.
I did a comparison of Kirkland vs. Rogaine in this article. Kirkland is a slightly cheaper option.
Baldness is a concern for almost 2/3 of the male population. It is not a health issue, but it is a psychological issue, as having a full head of hair can be very important to subjects, resulting in over $900 million is spent each year on hair loss.
Minoxidil topical is an easy to use liquid, resulting in few side effects, and since it has become available in a generic form, it has become relatively inexpensive.
The key issue, and the one we were trying to address was does it actually work?
We were not able to apply a clear answer. The best answer we could provide was “examine the research and make an informed decision.’ We hope this article succeeded in helping your decision.