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Why Does Minoxidil Cause Hair Shedding?
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on June 15, 2022

Every year, men spend $3.5bn (£2.7bn) on baldness cures across the globe [1]. One of these hair loss treatments that are among the most popular is Minoxidil.

Often found under the brand name, Rogaine, Minoxidil is a topical hair loss treatment that should be applied to the scalp twice a day, daily.

Unlike other hair loss treatments, like Dutasteride and Finasteride which work by blocking hormones, Minoxidil is a ‘vasodilator’. This means that the treatment is designed to widen the blood vessels and improve blood flow to the scalp which can stimulate hair growth.

There has been a range of studies into the effectiveness of Minoxidil [2, 3, 4], with most participants finding that it is an effective treatment for many men who are suffering from hair loss.

If you want to find out more about what Minoxidil is, how it works, and the clinical studies that have investigated its effectiveness, read our full guide to Minoxidil.

Despite its effectiveness, Minoxidil does not come without potential side effects. One of the side effects which can worry users the most is hair shedding.

What is hair shedding?

Hair shedding is something that some men on Minoxidil may notice during the first few weeks or months of using the treatment.

It’s where hair starts to fall out – which can be particularly worrying for someone who’s already concerned about balding.

However, it’s not normally something you need to worry about. Hair shedding is caused due to the effect Minoxidil has on the hair growth cycle.

There are four stages of hair growth, the anagen phase (growing), the catagen phase (transition), telogen phase (resting) and exogen phase (shedding). Out of these four stages, Minoxidil is believed to affect the anagen and telogen phases.

Applying Minoxidil to your scalp will extend the length of the anagen phase and shorten the telogen phase. Doing this brings about the exogen phase much quicker, causing your hair to fall out. 

However, although you may notice your hair falling out, it’s actually a good thing. By shedding old hair, follicles will soon start to grow new hair to replace what’s been lost – and the growth phase will have been extended to encourage more hair growth than usual.

If you’re thinking about taking Minoxidil, you shouldn’t need to worry about hair shedding as it’s only experienced by a very small percentage of patients. 

Do all hair loss treatments cause shedding?

Because of how hair loss treatments work, most products can cause hair shedding – even other popular treatments like Finasteride and Dutasteride.

It’s a completely normal experience as the hair loss treatments start to alter the hair growth cycle to make way for new hair growth.

How long does Minoxidil shedding last?

In most cases, hair shedding due to Minoxidil will only last around 8 weeks [5] and after 4 months of consistent use, you’ll start to see noticeable hair growth and no more shedding.

If, after 4 months, you’re still not seeing any results and your hair is continuing to fall out, it may not be caused by Minoxidil.

In this case, we’d recommend speaking to your GP or hair loss specialist about some of the other hair loss solutions that are available to you. These could be other over-the-counter treatments or more permanent processes like a hair transplant.  

Can you prevent Minoxodil shedding?

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to completely prevent your chance of experiencing hair shedding while taking Minoxidil.

Because of how the treatment works, the hair growth cycle is altered which can speed up hair shedding to make room for new hair growth.

However, if you are particularly worried about potential hair shedding, you might want to start with a lower concentration of Minoxidil.

Minoxidil typically comes in two concentrations: 2% and 5%. Because the 2% solution isn’t as strong, it’s a less powerful formula that may not cause as severe side effects.

If you want to take this route, you can start by using the 2% formula and, if you’re not experiencing any shedding, you could move up to a 5% concentration to speed up your results.

Are there any other Minoxidil side effects?

Although side effects are very rare when taking Minoxidil, there are a few other things that you may experience while taking this treatment:

  • Skin/scalp irritation
  • Rashes or itchiness
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Localized or generalized hypertrichosis – usually happens when taking oral Minoxidil
  • Changes in hair colour [6]

Most of these side effects will only affect a very small percentage of men or women taking Minoxidil. However, if they don’t clear up after a few weeks, or if you notice that they are especially severe, it’s best to speak to your GP.

Is Minoxidil the best hair loss treatment?

If you’re struggling to cope with your hair loss and want to do something about it, Minoxidil may be one of the first treatments that you consider as it’s an easy-to-use, accessible topical treatment that has a decent amount of clinical studies that prove its effectiveness.

However, it’s not a cure for hair loss. Minoxidil will only work for as long as you take the treatment. As soon as you finish using it, you’ll notice your hair loss resume.

If you want a more permanent cure or have found that Minoxidil has not worked for you, it might be time to consider a hair transplant. 

At Wimpole Clinic, we carry out high-quality, professional FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) transplants and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantations). These procedures are perfect for men suffering from hair loss who are looking for a natural and long-lasting solution.

Start your hair transplant journey with Wimpole Clinic

Choosing to get a hair transplant is a big decision, so we’re here to help you figure out if it’s the best next step for you.

Find out more about hair transplants and ask any questions you have with one of our friendly experts at Wimpole Clinic. We offer everyone a no-obligation consultation call where you can decide whether a hair transplant is right for you.

Book your free consultation with Wimpole Clinic today.

 

References

[1] https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20160921-the-benefits-of-going-bald 

[2] https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(03)03693-4/fulltext 

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4362890/ 

[4] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1346-8138.13312 

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/ 

[6] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323951238_Loose_anagen_hair_syndrome_Treatment_with
_systemic_minoxidil_characterised_by_marked_hair_colour_change
 

 

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on June 15, 2022
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on June 15, 2022

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