Female pattern hair loss affects more than 10% of women by the age of 50, and more than 30% by the age of 70 . Minoxidil for women is a common medication for treating female hair loss .
Minoxidil can be used to promote hair growth or reduce hair loss. It can be used on people with progressive hair loss, such as female pattern baldness, or temporary hair loss, from conditions such as telogen effluvium. Women with high stress levels are 11 times more likely to experience telogen effluvium .
A frequent concern is whether Minoxidil is suitable for women.
In this article we’ll look at:
Many female hair loss patients often ask us if Minoxidil is safe for women. The short answer to this question is yes, Minoxidil is a safe female hair loss treatment used to stimulate hair regrowth.
Topical Minoxidil, or Regaine® for women, is safe for women (or those who were assigned female at birth) to use. It’s the only FDA-approved hair loss medication for female pattern hair loss due to the fact that Finasteride is unsuitable for women .
Minoxidil is a clinically proven treatment for hair loss. Around 60% of women who use Minoxidil show some improvement in hair growth as it can boost hair density by 10-15% .
Minoxidil use in pregnancy is not recommended. Minoxidil is also deemed unsuitable for women who are breastfeeding. The medication may be excreted through breast milk, and could cause foetal deformities .
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, there are alternatives to Minoxidil that can be explored under the supervision and guidance of a doctor.
The efficacy of Minoxidil for female pattern hair loss is reliant upon the stage of hair loss categorised using the Ludwig scale. Topical Minoxidil is more effective at stopping hair loss during early stages of hair loss .
Minoxidil isn’t a permanent solution for hair thinning or hair loss. If you stop using it, your hair loss may restart. Only a hair transplant is permanent when it comes to hair restoration.
In order to understand how effective Minoxidil is for women you need to understand how it works. Researchers believe Minoxidil is a vasodilator, which increases blood flow to the scalp . This brings more oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles, stimulating greater hair growth.
Minoxidil may also shorten the telogen (resting) phase and prolong the anagen (growth) phase of the hair follicle [6-7]. Women are usually prescribed the 2% dosage of topical Minoxidil, which can slow hair loss, or the 5% foam solution, which has been evident in stimulating regrowth in 40% of women .
One study showed that 5% topical Minoxidil was superior to the 2% topical-minoxidil solution, and the 2% topical Minoxidil solution was superior to the placebo [8
This study was conducted over 48 weeks. It comprised 381 women aged 18 to 49 who were experiencing female pattern baldness. Each woman was required to use one of the following twice each day:
5% topical Minoxidil solution2% topical Minoxidil solution A placebo solution
The 5% group saw the greatest reduction in hair loss, but there were more side effects than in the other two groups, including itchiness and irritation.
Both the 5% and 2% group saw better results than the placebo group.
Another study focused on the efficacy of oral Minoxidil in female patients suffering from chronic telogen effluvium. They were treated daily with doses ranging from 0.25 to 2.5mg. A marked reduction in hair shedding was observed at 6 and 12 months . Learn more about Minoxidil results after one year of use.
Before applying Minoxidil, ensure that the scalp is dry.
If you are using the 2% Minoxidil spray, spritz the solution onto the affected area of the scalp and massage it into the area using your fingertips.
If using the 5% foam Minoxidil, aim the nozzle at your hand and press until you have half a capful in your palm. Apply to the affected area and gently massage into the scalp using your fingertips.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after applying Minoxidil. Learn more about how to apply minoxidil.
Some side effects of Minoxidil are specific to women, while others can affect users of all genders.
Side effects that are specific to women include:
General side effects (affecting both men and women):
For more serious side effects, such as blurred vision, chest pain, and facial swelling, you should consult a doctor or seek medical help immediately .
According to the Regaine website, it can take around 6 months to see visible results from Minoxidil.
You need to be consistent with the application of Minoxidil in order to see visible new hair growth results. Although some people prefer to use Minoxidil 3 times a week, inconsistent use is unlikely to produce successful results .
Below are some successful Minoxidil before and after photos of female patients.
This female patient is experiencing significant androgenetic alopecia (a form of hereditary hair loss) Over the course of 6 months, she was treated using 2% topical-Minoxidil, which was successful in stimulating hair regrowth .
The patient above is experiencing female pattern hair loss. The left picture shows her scalp after 6 months of using 5% topical Minoxidil twice daily. As you can see, her hair loss has ceased and her hair looks thicker .
The above pictures show another female patient experiencing female pattern hair loss. Her hair improved after 6 months of 5% topical-Minoxidil use .
This woman had diffuse hair loss (thinning hair) following intense chemotherapy treatment. Her hair loss after chemotherapy did not cease after 18 months post-treatment.
Topical Minoxidil didn’t help, so she began taking a low dose of oral Minoxidil and she was able to regrow hair. After 4 months the patient saw significant progress and was able to stop wearing a wig .
The photo on the left shows a woman who suffered from traction alopecia and began taking oral Minoxidil. The photo on the right shows the increase in hair regrowth after 11 months of taking Minoxidil .
The difference between Minoxidil for men and Minoxidil for women is primarily the necessary dosage.
For women, a 2% topical-liquid Minoxidil or a 5% foam is usually prescribed. The 5% topical liquid is currently only licensed for male use due to problematic side effects for women.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t use a strength over 2%. You just need a prescription, rather than buying over the counter.
It isn’t advised that women use Minoxidil for men without a prescription or guidance from a healthcare professional. However, in certain circumstances, you may be prescribed a stronger dose that’s also suitable for men.
In one study, women with female pattern hair loss who did not respond to 5% Minoxidil foam were treated for 12 weeks with a 15% topical Minoxidil solution. By the 12th week, 60% of the subjects achieved significant hair growth in the target area with no adverse effects .
Minoxidil isn’t designed for use on the eyebrows, but some studies have shown successful results.
One study found that applying 2% topical Minoxidil twice a day could significantly increase eyebrow density and diameter . Another found Minoxidil to be as effective as a bimatoprost solution for enhancing the eyebrows .
A 16-week study consisting of two groups of people experiencing hair loss in the eyebrow area measured the efficacy of a twice-daily application of 2% topical Minoxidil on one side of the face. A placebo was applied to the other side.
The study found that eyebrow density and diameter on the Minoxidil side had increased significantly by the 16th week .
A second study tested the effectiveness of a 3% Minoxidil solution against a 0.03% bimatoprost solution for eyebrow enhancement.
The Minoxidil solution was proven to be as effective as the bimatoprost, though contact dermatitis was found to be more common in the Minoxidil group .
A common side effect of Minoxidil is temporary hair shedding. This is thought to be due to the shortening of the telogen phase when taking the medication .
Minoxidil hair shedding is a type of telogen effluvium, which happens when a higher-than-normal number of hairs enter the telogen phase at one time. This can be due to stress, hormonal changes, or medication .
Minoxidil hair loss is usually temporary and only lasts for around 2 weeks when you first begin taking the medication. However, if you experience hair loss for longer than 2 weeks whilst taking Minoxidil, you should consult your doctor .
If you’re worried about hair loss, or want to learn more about Minoxidil and other hair loss treatments, we’re available for a free consultation.
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