Minoxidil is a vasodilator, a class of drugs that helps dilate the blood vessels. In the 1970s, Minoxidil was developed as an oral medication to treat high blood pressure. But clinical trials observed an interesting side effect, an increase in hair growth. This led to its reformulation into a topical solution for the treatment of hair loss and hair regrowth. But does minoxidil regrow hair? Let’s find out!
Minoxidil for Hair Growth
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved drug for male pattern baldness. Topical minoxidil is available in 5% foam, 5% solution, and 2% solution and has been used to correct hair disorders for over three decades. Studies suggest that minoxidil stimulates hair growth by acting through multiple pathways.
Minoxidil Benefits for Hair
As a potent vasodilator, minoxidil is believed to reactivate inactive hair follicles. Studies show that minoxidil hair growth is typically linked to its ability to reverse the miniaturization of hair follicles. Miniaturization refers to the progressive shrinking of hair follicles. This is typical of male pattern baldness. But minoxidil reverses the miniaturization of hair follicles. Let’s see how minoxidil works:
As a vasodilator, minoxidil widens the blood vessels in the area. When applied topically, minoxidil improves the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles. Improved blood circulation and nutrition flow stimulate and reactivate the hair follicles, promoting healthier hair growth.
2. Prolongs the Hair Growth Phase
Hair follicles go through four phases in the hair growth cycle, including the anagen (growth) phase, the catagen (transition) phase, and the telogen (resting) phase. Studies show that minoxidil prolongs the anagen phase. As the hair follicles stay in the growth phase for an extended time, this potentially leads to the production of thicker and longer hair strands and also promotes hair regrowth.
3. Stimulates Hair Follicles
As a vasodilator, minoxidil helps open up the potassium channels located on the smooth muscles of the peripheral artery, resulting in hyperpolarization of the cell membrane. This vasodilator effect stimulates the hair follicles directly and promotes their activity. Stronger and healthier hair follicles directly improve hair density and quality.
4. Anti-Androgenic Effect
Male pattern baldness, medically known as Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is the most common cause of hair loss. It occurs due to the influence of androgens, the male hormones, on genetically susceptible hair follicles. Studies show that minoxidil has a mild anti-androgenic effect which helps reduce the impact of androgens on hair follicles. Regular minoxidil uses slows down hair loss in some cases.
How to Use Minoxidil for Hair Growth?
Although minoxidil is an over-the-counter product, it can lead to side effects if not used properly and in appropriate doses. The correct way of using minoxidil for hair growth includes:
1. Minoxidil Topical Solution
- Ensure hair and scalp are completely dry before use.
- Using the provided applicator, apply the prescribed amounts (generally 1ml) to the affected area, starting from the center.
- Wash hands immediately after use.
- Shampoo after 4 hours of application.
2. Minoxidil Topical Foam
- Make small hair partings to expose the hair-thinning area.
- By pressing the minoxidil topical foam bottle, squeeze out about half a capful of foam onto your fingers.
- Spread the foam over the hair loss area and gently massage it into the scalp using a gentle circular motion.
- Wash hands immediately after use.
- Shampoo after 4 hours.
Minoxidil, originally developed as a blood pressure medication, has proven to be a valuable solution for hair regrowth. But how does minoxidil regrow hair? Medically it belongs to the class of drugs known as vasodilators. This helps in dilating the blood vessels and enhancing blood circulation and hence better oxygen and nutrient delivery to hair follicles.
While the exact mechanism of how minoxidil works is still unclear, its use is believed to reactivate dormant hair follicles and reverse the miniaturization of hair follicles. Also, it prolongs the growth phase, stimulates follicles, and confers a mild anti-androgenic effect, all attributes that help correct male pattern baldness. Although minoxidil is an over-the-counter product, it must be used after consultation with a healthcare provider to negate the risk of side effects.