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What is minoxidil?

What is minoxidil?

Minoxidil, treatment for alopecia

Minoxidil is a drug that works by relaxing the smooth muscle that covers the arteries, especially at the level of the arterioles, producing vasodilation, an increase in the caliber of the affected blood vessels. This drug began to be used in the late 1970s as a treatment for high blood pressure in tablets, and it was not until a few years later that its use produced hypertrichosis, that is, excessive hair growth, which led to its being studied its potential use as a treatment for alopecia.

Its most common use is as a topical treatment for alopecia. However, it is still approved as a treatment for hypertension in some specific cases whose management is very complex.

How to use it?

Its use is recommended topically as a lotion, preferably at a concentration of 5%, applying it every 12 hours in the areas affected by alopecia.

Its use has also been studied as an oral treatment, in pills, for alopecia. Still, at the moment, its benefits do not exceed topical treatment, in addition to producing a more significant number of adverse effects, which is why it is still preferred as a lotion.
Does it have side effects?

Like all drugs, minoxidil can have side effects. At the beginning of its use, you may notice an increase in hair loss, which is transitory and subsides with continued use.

The most common adverse reactions to topical minoxidil are mild skin changes at the application site, such as redness, swelling, or scaling, associated with burning, itching, or tingling, and dry skin. In some sporadic cases, it can favor the appearance of acne.

Other infrequent but more relevant reactions are the appearance of tachycardia, palpitations, or hypotension, for which reason people with significant cardiovascular disease should avoid its use. Minoxidil can cause headaches, shortness of breath, erectile dysfunction or impotence, musculoskeletal pain, and eye and ear discomfort in some rare cases.

Its use is not recommended in pregnant women due to the lack of studies on its safety at this stage, and it is contraindicated during lactation as the drug passes into breast milk.

Minoxidil, treatment for alopecia::Minoxidil molecule. It is an antihypertensive vasodilator drug, and it is used to treat hair loss.
Does it work?

Scientific studies have shown significant evidence of its effectiveness in treating androgenetic alopecia in men and acceptable evidence for this same type of alopecia in women. Minoxidil decreases the time a hair is in the telogen phase, which is the phase before hair loss, increases the time it is in the anagen phase (hair growth phase) and increases hair thickness.

It is essential to know that the effect occurs only on existing hair follicles, but new hair follicles are not generated where these are not present or have already disappeared. Treatment must be maintained chronically and started early after detecting androgenetic alopecia. If its application is suspended, the beneficial effect ceases between three and six months.

On the other hand, the fact that minoxidil does not cause the appearance of new hair follicles limits its usefulness in types of alopecia in which the hair follicle disappears entirely and irreversibly, as occurs in scarring alopecia. For this reason, it is interesting to discuss with a doctor, dermatologist, or a center specializing in the management of alopecia before starting this treatment.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before you start using minoxidil:

Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to minoxidil or other drugs.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially guanethidine (Iselin), other medications for high blood pressure, and vitamins.
Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had heart, kidney, liver, or scalp disease.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while using this product, call your doctor.
Avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and wear clothing that covers your skin, sunglasses, and sunscreen. This product makes your skin much more sensitive to sunlight.

How should I store or dispose of this medicine?

Keep this medicine in its container, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excessive heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

It is essential to keep all medicines out of sight and reach children because many containers (such as weekly pill boxes and those containing eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not leak-proof—small children can easily open them. To protect them from poisoning, always use safety caps and immediately put medications in a safe place, upstairs and out of sight and reach.

What other important information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor. Minoxidil is for external use only. Avoid contact with the product with your eyes, nose, or mouth, and do not ingest it. Do not apply dressings, bandages, cosmetics, lotions, or other medications to the treated area unless directed by your doctor.

Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask the pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

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