Minoxidil (Rogaine) was originally an anti-hypertensive medication that was noted to have hirsuitism (hair growth) as a side effect. Applying it topically on the scalp was shown to grow hair. This is the first FDA-approved medication for hair loss. Minoxidil is a topical liquid that was originally used for the apex of the scalp. This led to the misconception that this was the only area it can be effective for. Rogaine can be used on the entire scalp, but will not be effective on a completely bald scalp.
Minoxidil truly stimulates hair growth. It increases the time the hair follicles spend in the growth phase. This drug stimulates follicular growth as well. It can be used in tandem with Finasteride that works by inhibiting the effects of the hormone DHT on hair follicles.
Both men and women can use Rogaine. It comes in various strengths; 5% for men and 2% for women. Various compounding shops produce 10% solutions, that may be even more effective. Rogaine comes in a solution that can create a “wet greasy” look and feel. There are also foam preparations and shampoos available. Women are more sensitive to the effects of minoxidil, and if the liquid runs down the face, facial hair can grow in these areas. If Minoxidil treatment is stopped, in three months, the effects will be lost and the hair loss pattern will return. Many patients state that “ when I stopped the Rogaine, all my hair fell out.” Medical treatment for hair loss is a perpetual requirement.