Minoxidil is the active ingredient in a popular shampoo known as Rogaine, and it is FDA-approved for both men and women who are battling hair loss. It is available over-the-counter in 2% (for women) and 5% (for men) strengths, and it is also available in prescription-strength creams up to 30% minoxidil for individuals who need a stronger product. Though it does not work for everyone, it certainly can help many men and women avoid excessive hair loss.
Who Does Minoxidil Rogaine Work For?
Before buying over-the-counter minoxidil products, it is important to remember that it will only work for men and women experiencing male- or female-pattern baldness and not hair loss resulting from some other condition. This means that it cannot treat hair loss that is the result of a medical condition, a side effect of a medication, or the result of an injury to the scalp resulting in scarring.
Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle
To truly understand how minoxidil helps so many men and women prevent further hair loss and even regrow hair, it’s important to first understand the hair growth cycle. Your hair goes through three stages of growth:
- Anagen – This is the stage during which your hair is actively growing, and follicles spend roughly 85% of their lives in the anagen phase. It lasts an average of three to five years and is capable of producing hair between 18 and 30 inches long.
- Catagen – The catagen phase occurs immediately after the anagen phase, and for most men and women, it lasts roughly 10 days. During this time, old hairs release themselves from the follicle shafts and begin to fall out.
- Telogen – During the telogen phase, your hair follicles become dormant and rest. This is when hairs will fall out, and it lasts for about three months.
It is important to remember that each follicle on your head enters each of these three phases independently of the others; therefore, you shed 80 to 150 hairs each day rather than your entire head of hair all at once. Though scientists aren’t exactly sure how or why minoxidil works, they think it helps to improve blood flow and circulation to hair follicles that have been impacted by DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, which is known to extend the length of the telogen phase while vastly shortening – or even completely inhibiting – the anagen phase.
Does Minoxidil Work?
Minoxidil can be helpful for anyone who wants to slow the rate at which they lose hair, but it only helps to regrow hair in about a quarter of those who use it – and to varying degrees. It takes roughly six months of treatment to see a result, with the best benefits occurring after a year. Some individuals find that they must continue to use minoxidil or their hair loss returns. For others, minoxidil produces absolutely no change and they must seek alternative treatment options.
If you are concerned about hair loss, schedule a consultation with Dr Mardirossian to learn more about your options, which include finasteride treatments, low-level laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma treatments, and surgical options like hair grafting and follicular unit extraction.