Minoxidil Side Effects: 16 Most Common With Pictures

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In this article I’m going to show you the most common side effects of using minoxidil. And YES, there are some which will make you think twice about using it!

I’ve used minoxidil myself (before I knew better) and I’ve talked to literally hundreds of men and women who have as well. So I know the most common issues that come up again and again.

We get comments like this all the time:

(Scroll down to the bottom to read more user comments)

Secondly, I’m going to show you the alternative that I use everyday instead. It’s 100% natural, cheaper and has been proven more effective than minoxidil in scientific studies.

Wait, what!!

You mean there is a completely natural substance that is even more effective at hair regrowth than minoxidil – but without the nasty side-effects??

YES – That’s exactly what I mean.

It’s like minoxidil but without the side effects.

The drug companies DO NOT want you to know about this!

Thirdly, I’ll show you the simple device can potentially increase the effectiveness of minoxidil or alternatives by a large degree. So you can use less and reduce the side effects even more.

Minoxidil In The Treatment Of Hair Loss

Minoxodil is a vasodilator which has been shown to reduce and slow hair loss in those who suffer from alopecia.

It is speculated that the active form of the drug, minoxidil sulfate, triggers the dilation of capillaries in the scalp which supply hair follicles, thus improving their function and stimulating hair growth.

The liquid and the foam versions of rogaine

It is thought that hairs which are already in the telogen phase – the final stage of a hair’s development, are shed as a result of this, to be replaced by stronger and healthier hairs in the anagen, or growth, phase.

It is often taken along with other synthetic drugs designed to prevent hair loss, such as finasteride, and is often required to be used as preparation for hair transplant surgery like Neograft.

How It Is Applied?

Minoxidil is commonly used in both foam and topical solution forms in the treatment of hair loss. It is commercially marketed and sold as Rogaine. It is applied topically and massaged into the scalp as a liquid, foam or cream

The drug is left to be absorbed into the scalp, where it is converted into its active form and stimulates the widening of the capillaries supplying blood and nutrients to the hair follicles.

How Much Is Taken?

The FDA has now approved the use of 5% minoxidil foam for both men and women, whereas the use of 5% topical solution has only been approved for men.

There is a 2% solution which was approved for women’s use in 1992. The manufacturer recommends that people use half a cap full, twice daily – in the morning and at night time.

How Long Does It Take To Work?

The manufacturer of Rogaine states that it may take up to four months to start seeing the effects of minoxidil topical solution and foam.

There is a body of anecdotal evidence suggesting that the topical solution leads to better results, as it is applied with more precision to the scalp, whereas the foam may be left on the stem of the hair if not properly massaged into the scalp.

In the case of people with advanced alopecia, there may be no positive effect at all.

If the scalp does not contain hair follicles, growth cannot be stimulated.

Here’s a study about 5% vs. 2% minoxidil for men and women.

Consideration Before Using Minoxidil

Dryness and itchiness caused by dandruff can make hair fall out more easily

Minoxidil (MXD) is popularly used in topical form to curb the progress of androgenic alopecia and may not be appropriate for the treatment of other forms of alopecia.

If you are not sure as to the cause of your hair loss, consult your physician before using minoxidil, especially if you have no family history of hair loss.

If you already know that you are allergic to any of the ingredients, it goes without saying that you should avoid using it. If you are allergic to propylene glycol, you should avoid using the topical MXD solution as it is known to provoke dermatitis in some people. Minoxidil foam does not contain propylene glycol.

Pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised not to use minoxidil as the drug’s effects on the fetus are not yet known, and it may well turn out to be harmful to unborn babies.

Those who are already taking other forms of medication and people with cardiovascular problems, hypertension, and hypotension are advised to consult their physician before using minoxidil.

As the drug is absorbed into the blood, it is possible that it could interact with other medicines, with unforeseen effects.

MXD is not approved for use by those under 18 years of age as its effects have not fully been studied yet. If the area of skin you want to treat is inflamed or irritated, you should avoid use.

Do not apply it to facial or body parts other than the top of your head, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after each application.

Minoxidil foam may cause dizziness, especially when used with alcohol or certain other drugs. It is advisable to apply it the first time in a safe environment so as to be able to gauge your reaction to the drug.

Avoid driving and other hazardous tasks until you are sure it will not make you dizzy.

A man worried about his temporary hair lossReported Common Side Effects

Most common side effects of using minoxidil do not pose an immediate threat to your health, but if they become bothersome, you should cease using the drug until you have consulted your physician.

The most common symptom is itching of the skin and the appearance of a rash.

As mentioned earlier, this is also a common allergic reaction to propylene glycol – if you are using minoxidil topical solution and experience such side effects, you may find that they disappear if you switch to using minoxidil foam.

Rare Side Effects

Severe side effects from using minoxidil are very uncommon, but urgent medical attention must be sought if any of the following symptoms are experienced:

  1. Swelling of the hands or feet
  2. Unexplained weight gain
  3. Chest pain
  4. Dizziness
  5. Loss of consciousness
  6. Difficulty breathing
  7. Palpitations
  8. Severe rashes, hives
  9. Swelling of the tongue or lips

Many of the side effects listed above can be caused by the absorption of too much MXD into the bloodstream. If you resume use of the drug, ensure that you are administering the correct dosage and check this with your physician.

Update! Bags Under Eyes & Dark Circles

We get a lot of emails and comments from minoxidil users here at the website and one thing that seems to keep coming up is that dark circles can be one of the biggest unexpected effects.

And it does not just seem like this is related to lack of sleep. There seems to be a clear connection for some users that minoxidil has caused dark circles around their eyes which has not quickly cleared up even after stopping use.

Complications

Minoxidil foam and topical solution should only be applied according to specified directions. It should be kept well out of the reach of children and away from pets.

If you get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth, rinse it out immediately and thoroughly using cool water.

It should be stored in a secure container, away from direct sunlight or appliances which give off heat. It is ideally stored at room temperature (between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, or 20 and 25 degrees Celcius).

If you or another person have ingested minoxidil, you must seek emergency medical attention.

Do not smoke when using MXD foam or directly after using it, as the foam is highly flammable and contact with hot smoke or a flame could result in serious injury.

Minoxidil In The Treatment Of Hypertension & Related Side Effects

Minoxidil’s role as a vasodilator is also what helps it play an effective part in the treatment of hypertension. It is usually taken in pill form along with a diuretic.

By triggering a widening of the blood vessels, it helps reduce the overall pressure of the blood being pumped around the body.

As the body starts to adjust to the lower body pressure, users may experience dizziness and drowsiness.

This is a normal and expected side effect of using minoxidil in the treatment of hypertension, but it should not happen when using the drug as a topical treatment for hair loss, in which case treatment must be stopped and urgent medical attention must be found.

Other adverse effects that have been noted as a result of using minoxidil as a treatment for hypertension are:

  1. Chest pain
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Changes in body hair
  5. Fever
  6. Headache

Perhaps the most common side effect is headaches. The headache is caused by vasodilation. Minoxidil is a vasodilator and if some is absorbed it will cause vasodilation and, thus, headaches. The mechanism of action is similar to nitrate drugs.

Further Complications

Scalp calcification reduces blood flow to hair follicles which causes miniaturization and eventually follicle death.

Perhaps more of interest to those using MXD as a topical treatment for hair loss, are the dermatological side effects sometimes associated with oral minoxidil.

Some of those treated noticed a change in the color of their body hair, along with longer and thicker hairs – a symptom of hypertrichosis.

The first areas to be affected are typically the temples and between the eyebrows, and may be noted between three and six weeks after commencement of treatment.

Cessation of treatment results in a lack of new growth, however, it can take up to six months of abstention from the drug to return the user’s appearance to normal.

A serious side effect of using oral minoxidil is increased salt and water retention. Up to 7% of those treated with the drug have been found to develop temporary edemas.

Likewise, in some cases, inflammation of the pericardium – the membrane surrounding the heart, has been noted, along with pericardial effusion – a serious condition.

It has also been noted that in 60% of those using the treatment, heart rhythm changes, although there is no outward presentation of this.

In addition to this, laboratory tests on blood, liver, and kidneys may show changes in results, influenced by the use of minoxidil. Likewise, such changes do not manifest themselves in any visible symptoms.

Are There Any Alternatives To Minoxidil?

Applying a topical natural liquid to the scalp

Are there any alternatives to minoxidil that don’t have the effects of using a chemical on your skin every day? Yes, there are.

They use natural ingredients to block DHT topically as well as promoting hair growth through increased circulation.

(Learn ways to regrow your receding hairline here.)

How To Make Topical Treatments More Effective

There is a simple, yet effective way to make minoxidil even more effective. This can allow you to use less of the liquid, which can help to decrease any adverse effects.

This method is to use a dermaroller, in a process called microneedling.

There are convincing studies that how microneedling helps to drastically increase the effectiveness of minoxidil. Here are the results of a study conducted in 2013:

As you can see from the graph above, the mean hair count after 12 weeks for the dermaroller + minoxidil group was 317 vs. 218. That is a 45% increase in effectiveness.

Here is a further breakdown of the results:

Source.

As you can see from patients 1 and 2 below from the microneedling group, the results were impressive:

Before and after photos of minoxidil group + dermaroller
Source.

Update! Have You Heard Of Oleuropein?

The olive plant contains Oleuropein

Oleuropein is a compound derived from the leaves of the olive tree and it’s also found in argan oil.

There was an interesting study done in 2015 on the topical application of Oleuropein for hair growth and how it compared to minoxidil.

Although the study was carried out on mice, and only lasted 28 days, the results are very encouraging.

Oleuropein beat minoxidil in every criterion that the researchers used to assess how well topical solutions regrew hair. These included:

  1. Hair follicle length
  2. Hair follicle diameter
  3. Number of hair follicles
  4. Skin thickness (important for blood flow to hair follicle)
  5. Dermal papilla cell proliferation

As you can see from the diagram below, after 28 days OP (Oleuropein) had regrown the hair more than MXD (minoxidil) and much more than the control.

Oleuropein hair length mice
Source.

The number of hair follicles, and the hair follicle diameter was also significantly better with OP than with MXD as you can see from the graph below:

Source.

The thickness of the skin can be used as an indicator of how well the hair will grow. With thicker dermal layer suggesting higher blood flow and nutriment going to the hair.

Again, the graphs from the 2015 study show that OP clearly outperforms the control and the minoxidil topical solutions.

Source.

Finally, it is shown that OP stimulates the growth of the number of viable dermal papilla cells (the cells responsible for growing the hair follicles.)

Source.

Conclusion

It is important to consult with a physician before taking minoxidil due to the various complications and nasty unintended effects that it can present.

Each individual may react differently to the drug, according to their personal circumstances and state of health. It is impossible to know the short and long-term effects of using minoxidil in conjunction with other medications, although your health care professional will be able to tell you if you should avoid use.

Be that as it may, in the cases where side effects are reported as a result of minoxidil, most are not severe, and subside with the cessation of usage.

By far the most likely side effect is irritation of the skin, which may not be caused by the active ingredient itself. In such cases, treatment may be continued by using minoxidil without propylene glycol.

Minoxidil has been shown to be effective in certain people who suffer from particular conditions such as androgenic alopecia, but is not an effective treatment for other types of hair loss, which may have other causes such as stress or fungal infection – for which there is often already a different, effective treatment.