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How To Deal With An Itchy Scalp From Minoxidil
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on April 6, 2024

Minoxidil helps improve the symptoms of hair loss stemming from lots of different conditions, including androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, and telogen effluvium. But it is associated with certain side effects, including an itchy scalp.

13.8% of patients report experiencing an itchy scalp when using Minoxidil [1]. So what can you do if Minoxidil is making your scalp itch?

In this article, find out why Minoxidil causes an itchy scalp, and what you can do to reduce itchiness when using Minoxidil.

Table of Contents

What is Minoxidil and does it cause an itchy scalp?

Minoxidil is a drug that dilates the blood vessels, allowing them to carry more nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles. This has been shown to promote cell proliferation, leading to enhanced hair growth.

The effects of 2% Minoxidil use after 6 months

The impact of 2% Minoxidil at baseline (a), two months (b), four months (c), and six months (d).

Research suggests up to 9% of those who use topical Minoxidil for male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss experience mild itchiness on their scalp [2]. This can be as high as 60% of people with other types of hair loss.

Why does Minoxidil cause an itchy scalp?

Some topical Minoxidil formulations contain propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a known irritant that’s often associated with itchiness (also known as pruritus) [3]. If you’re experiencing an itchy scalp when using Minoxidil, you may be reacting to propylene glycol.

Minoxidil foam doesn’t usually contain propylene glycol. So if you’ve been using a Minoxidil spray or liquid that’s causing itchiness and irritation, switching to Minoxidil foam may reduce these side effects.

Does Minoxidil cause dandruff?

Some Minoxidil users have reported an increase in dandruff [1]. Dandruff is a common scalp problem, but it can also make your scalp itchy. Scratching your scalp can make flaking worse.

Using a good anti-dandruff shampoo can help you control flakes, and may reduce itchiness.

How to stop your scalp itching with Minoxidil

Follow these tips to control scalp itching from Minoxidil use:

  • Use the right amount of Minoxidil — Using too much Minoxidil can aggravate itchiness, especially if your scalp is sensitive to the ingredients.
  • Use the right strength — 2% Minoxidil is typically recommended for women, while 5% is recommended for men. 2% formulations are less likely to cause unwanted facial hair growth and may reduce other side effects, including itchiness.
  • Switch to Minoxidil foam — Minoxidil foam that doesn’t contain propylene glycol may be less likely to irritate your scalp.
  • Moisturise your scalp — Dry skin can make itching worse. Keep your scalp hydrated with an emollient cream or good quality moisturiser. Find out which products to use in our guide of the 25 most effective dry scalp treatments.
  • Take an antihistamine — Over-the-counter antihistamines can help reduce symptoms of itchiness and irritation.
  • Try a new shampoo — Shampoos containing ketoconazole or zinc pyrithione may minimise itchiness and treat dandruff caused by Minoxidil use.
  • See your GP — If the itching is really unbearable, your GP may be able to prescribe or recommend a topical steroid cream to alleviate symptoms.

Is Rogaine supposed to make your head itch?

Rogaine (known as Regaine in the UK) is the branded version of Minoxidil, and it’s one of the most widely used formulas. Itchiness is a well-known side effect of Rogaine.

Like other non-branded types of Minoxidil, Rogaine is available in both liquid and foam forms. The liquid version contains propylene glycol, while the foam version doesn’t. The liquid version is more likely to cause itchiness and other side effects if your scalp is sensitive to propylene glycol.

What are the side effects of too much Minoxidil?

An itchy scalp or a scalp that hurts when you move your hair can be signs that you’re using too much Minoxidil. Most people are advised to use 1ml of Minoxidil twice a day at their required strength (usually 2% Minoxidil for women or 5% Minoxidil for men). 

Other side effects of using too much Minoxidil include [1]:

  • Excessive hair growth on the face and/or body (also known as hypertrichosis)
  • Headaches
  • Seborrheic dermatitis

You may experience these side effects even if you’re using the right amount of Minoxidil. If you decide to discontinue Minoxidil due to side effects, speak to a hair loss specialist to discuss other hair loss treatment options.

Does an itchy scalp mean my hair is growing?

Having an itchy scalp doesn’t necessarily mean your hair is growing. It’s more likely to be a reaction to an ingredient in the Minoxidil solution. In fact, there are lots of potential causes of an itchy scalp according to the NHS.

That said, your hair is probably growing even if you do have an itchy scalp. Minoxidil can stimulate hair growth, regardless of whether it causes itchiness.

How can you tell if Minoxidil is working?

Using Minoxidil is a bit of a waiting game, and there’s no real way to tell if it’s working until you start to see initial regrowth.

It takes around two months to see initial regrowth after you start using Minoxidil, and a further two to four months to see sustained regrowth.

Derma rolling for hair growth may increase Minoxidil absorption rates, accelerating the rate of hair growth when you use these treatments in combination [4].

Learn more about hair loss treatments

Minoxidil is one of the most popular hair loss treatments, but there are several other treatments that can also be effective:

If Minoxidil is making your scalp too itchy, you might consider trying one of these alternative treatments. Book a free consultation with our hair loss advisors to discuss your options, and create a tailored treatment plan for your hair loss.

How To Deal With An Itchy Scalp From Minoxidil, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on April 6, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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