Minoxidil is a licensed hair loss treatment in the UK, but it’s not currently available on the NHS.
That’s because in most cases, hair loss is considered a cosmetic issue that doesn’t impact your general health and wellbeing (although it’s well-documented that hair loss can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression) .
Here, find out all about NHS Minoxidil treatment, including where to get Minoxidil, getting help with side effects, and whether Minoxidil is the right treatment for you.
Minoxidil works by widening the blood vessels. When applied to the scalp, this means more blood, oxygen, and nutrients can reach the hair follicles, helping them produce healthy hair.
Minoxidil can also move follicles through the hair growth cycle to the growth (anagen) phase more quickly. It can also prolong the anagen phase, helping your hair grow thicker for longer.
In most cases, you can’t get Minoxidil on the NHS to treat male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss.
These conditions are considered aesthetic problems rather than health problems, so you’ll need to get treatment for these privately.
Fortunately, topical Minoxidil is available over-the-counter. So you can get this treatment from a local pharmacy or online without a prescription.
Oral Minoxidil isn’t available over-the-counter, so you’ll need a prescription for this treatment. While oral Minoxidil is sometimes used as a hair loss treatment, it was originally designed to treat high blood pressure.
Your GP may prescribe oral Minoxidil to you to control your blood pressure, but they can’t prescribe it for hair loss.
A private trichologist, such as those at the Wimpole Clinic, can prescribe oral Minoxidil for hair loss if it’s suitable for you.
Minoxidil was initially created as an antihypertensive drug. That means higher oral doses can reduce the risks of high blood pressure like heart attacks or stroke.
Hair regrowth was found to be a common side effect of Minoxidil, which is why it was developed and licensed as a popular hair loss treatment.
However, unlike high blood pressure, which can seriously impact your health if left untreated, hair loss is primarily a cosmetic concern. That’s why oral Minoxidil for blood pressure may be available on the NHS, while Minoxidil for hair loss must be bought privately.
If you are prescribed Minoxidil by your GP for any reason, you’ll need to pay for your prescription (unless you’re exempt from paying for NHS prescriptions).
Minoxidil side effects are generally mild and can be managed without additional treatment. The most common side effects include:
While you can see your GP about these issues, it’s unlikely they will prescribe additional treatment. Instead, consider reducing your Minoxidil dosage. For example, if you’re using 5% Minoxidil twice a day, reduce your use to once a day, or switch to 2% Minoxidil.
Using Minoxidil foam instead of Minoxidil spray can also help you manage side effects, as the foam formulation doesn’t include propylene glycol, which can irritate the skin. Both formulations are available over-the-counter.
Like Minoxidil, Finasteride is a licensed hair loss treatment. But unlike Minoxidil, you need a prescription to get Finasteride. That’s because it’s not safe for all users, and the side effects can be harder to manage.
Combining Minoxidil and Finasteride is a proven way to tackle male pattern baldness — but because Minoxidil is combined with a prescription drug, you’ll need a prescription for these formulas . You can’t get a prescription on the NHS, but you can get one privately.
Topical Minoxidil is available over-the-counter in most high street and online pharmacies. Prices start at £14.99 for a month’s supply, depending on Minoxidil strength and whether you use generic Minoxidil or Regaine.
Minoxidil is a successful treatment for many different types of hair loss, including pattern baldness, alopecia areata, and traction alopecia. But it doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you have severe or extensive hair loss.
The best way to find the right hair loss treatment is to get a diagnosis. At the Wimpole Clinic, we offer all the major hair loss treatments for women and hair loss treatments for men, so you can create a hair restoration plan that works for you. Book a consultation to learn more.
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