Minoxidil, the active ingredient in well-known hair loss treatment brands is a beacon of hope for those grappling with male and female pattern hair loss. Approved by the FDA for topical use, minoxidil operates on multiple fronts to combat hair loss.
This article delves into the workings of minoxidil, its impact on the hair growth cycle, and the phases users may undergo during its application.
How Minoxidil Works:
Minoxidil's effectiveness for hair regrowth stems from its multifaceted approach. Firstly, it propels hair follicles into the active growth phase, scientifically termed the "anagen" phase of the hair growth cycle. Simultaneously, it enhances blood flow to the scalp, ensuring hair follicles receive an increased supply of vital nutrients necessary for sustained growth.
Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle:
To comprehend the effects of minoxidil fully, it's essential to grasp the intricacies of the hair growth cycle. The cycle comprises the anagen (growth), catagen (transitional), and telogen (resting) phases. Male pattern baldness which is triggered by dihydrotestosterone (DHT) induces miniaturisation of hair follicles thus reducing the anagen phase and impeding proper hair growth.
Phases of Minoxidil Use:
Shortening the Telogen Phase:
Minoxidil intervenes by abbreviating the telogen phase, ensuring hair follicles spend less time in a resting state and more time actively growing. Consequently, many hairs prematurely enter the anagen phase, initiating growth.
Stimulating Blood Vessels:
The second mechanism involves minoxidil's stimulation of blood vessels throughout the scalp, optimizing consistent blood flow to hair follicles. This not only supports existing follicles but may also encourage the growth of new, healthier strands of hair.
Following the initiation of minoxidil treatment, users commonly experience a temporary thinning of hair. This phenomenon, known as the shedding phase, is associated with the transition of hair follicles from one phase to another. Despite initial concerns, this phase is short, and hair thickness typically improves over the ensuing months.
Long-Term Growth and Maintenance:
Users are advised to stay committed to daily minoxidil application, as its effects are contingent on continuous use. Significant improvements are often noticeable within two to four months, with more pronounced results emerging after a year of consistent treatment.
As users progress in their minoxidil journey, they may encounter a plateau phase. During this stage, the rate of hair growth may stabilize, and the visible improvements may plateau. While this phase can be disheartening for some, it's essential to recognise it as a normal part of the process when using Minoxidil. While going through this phase, users can improve their gains by using a derma roller regularly alongside applying Minoxidil.
Effectiveness of Minoxidil:
Numerous studies affirm the positive impact of minoxidil on hair loss. In a 2004 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, over 900 men with androgenetic alopecia reported minoxidil as "very effective," "effective," or "moderately effective" in regrowing hair.
A 2007 study demonstrated the superiority of topical minoxidil over a placebo, showcasing increased hair growth and reduced hair loss in the minoxidil group after 16 weeks of treatment. Moreover, research comparing minoxidil dosages found the 5% solution more effective at promoting satisfactory hair regrowth.
While minoxidil is generally well-tolerated, possible side effects include seborrheic dermatitis, temporary hair shedding, scalp irritation, pruritus (itchy, dry skin), and allergic reactions. Serious side effects are rare, emphasizing the overall safety of minoxidil.