Hair loss affects approximately 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States. Due to these numbers, many “solutions” have popped up to promise hair growth results. Despite how many products are available, only two drugs have been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss. One of these drugs is Minoxidil, a topical treatment used for hair growth.

What is Minoxidil?

Originally developed in the late 1950s, Minoxidil was being tested as an oral option to treat ulcers. Though not effective researchers found it to work as a vasodilator and lead to its FDA approval in 1963. It wasn’t until later that researchers discovered that Minoxidil had the side-effect of hair growth, and in 1988 the FDA approved Rogaine as a drug to treat baldness. Minoxidil, or Rogaine, is the only FDA-approved topical treatment. Additionally, it is one of the few hair loss drugs available to men and women over the counter.

How Does Minoxidil Work?

Though Minoxidil has had hair growth results, the exact way it works is not entirely understood. The most common reason for it growing hair has been linked to Minoxidil being a potassium channel opener. Doctors believe that this results in blood vessels widening, bringing more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to hair follicles. While hair is growing, follicles use these nutrients for development. The increase in quantity stimulates the follicles to grow thicker hair during the anagen phase, leading to a fuller head of hair.


Though Minoxidil has been shown to work, it isn’t effective for all types of baldness. It has been found that Rogaine is most effective on people under the age of 40 and have more recently begun to experience hair loss. Those who have gone completely bald already won’t see results from the product. There are currently two approved formulas of Rogaine available that feature different percentages of Minoxidil: a standard 2% formula and an extra-strength 5% formula. Understandably, those who have used the 5% formula saw quicker and better results. Like other hair loss drugs, Minoxidil is only effective while it is being used. This means that once the use of Rogaine ceases, hair loss will begin once again. In order to maintain any results of the product, consumers must continue use indefinitely.

Side Effects

Though the product is considered safe there are possible side effects to using Minoxidil, like any medication. Some of the most common side effects that have been linked to Rogaine use are:
  • Changes in hair color or texture
  • Irritation of the scalp
  • Hair growth in unwanted areas
Doctors have also observed an increase in shedding for the first couple of weeks when beginning to use Minoxidil. This is normal as the hair follicles push out the old hair to prepare for new hair growth.

Is Minoxidil Right for You?

While Minoxidil has been shown to get results for some, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone experiencing hair loss. If you do experience results, drug-use must be continued to maintain those results. At West LA Hair, Dr. Melamed offers procedures for men and women that can get you lasting results. In addition, West LA Hair offers clinically proven supplements like Viviscal Pro and Votesse that are specially formulated to help you reach your hair growth goals. It is important to check with a healthcare professional before adding any additional supplements to your diet and use drugs or supplements as directed.