The term Rogaine (Minoxidil) is a familiar one for those dealing with hair loss. Rogaine is a brand name for a drug called Minoxidil - an over-the-counter active ingredient clinically proven to help stop and even reverse hereditary hair loss, by reactivating your inactive hair follicles. Developed initially as an oral medication for blood pressure, Minoxidil was found to have an interesting side effect – it was found that it could promote hair growth, thickness and strength. The drug was repurposed and eventually became the first FDA-approved topical medication for hair loss.
Currently, Rogaine is available over the counter in two formulations: a 2% solution advised for women and a 5% solution generally recommended for men. It is sold either as a liquid or foam. Before looking at the efficacy of Rogaine, let us comprehend the reason for hair loss - hair grows in cycles and each growth cycle includes a growth phase, a transitional phase and a resting phase. Each hair growth cycle produces shorter, finer, much less visible hair.
In time, a few follicles will even be destroyed and fail to grow hair. The most common cause of hair loss in men and women is androgenic alopecia (AGA) – a condition in which the hair follicle shrinks and the growth cycle is reduced. Genetics, hormones and onset of age are major contributors to the development of this condition. So how does Rogaine (Minoxidil) help? Let us have a look at the science behind Rogaine and its effects on hair.
The Science behind Minoxidil
While the process by which Minoxidil stimulates hair growth is still unclear, it has been established that Minoxidil can help reverse the hair loss process of androgenetic alopecia by the following means:
Opens out the blood vessels in the scalp, as a result of which increased oxygen, blood and nutrients can reach the hair follicles.
Increases blood flow around the shrunken hair follicles, thus revitalizing the same.
Reverses the miniaturization of follicles and increases the size of the hair follicles, resulting in thicker hair,
Stimulates the production of hair follicle cells and extends the time spent by the hair in the growth phase.
It is important to note that Rogaine does not work for everyone and results can vary.
How does Minoxidil help?
Minoxidil can greatly benefit those with thinning hair and/or hair loss by:
Stimulating new hair growth when applied to the scalp.
Arresting the advance of a receding hairline.
Enhancing hair thickness and density owing to the fuller and healthier growth of the hair strands.
Treating hair disorders like Androgenetic alopecia and female pattern hair loss.
However, any growth that occurs as a result of using Rogaine will only last as long as you keep using the product. In the event the product is discontinued, it has been observed that hair growth returns to previous levels since the effects are not permanent without regular usage of Rogaine.
Who gets the best results from Rogaine?
It has been observed that Rogaine is most effective for people who start using it at the first indications of hair loss. It does not help those who have already gone completely bald.
People with hereditary hair loss at the back of the head, just under the crown, or women with general thinning of hair on the top of the scalp have benefitted the most from the usage of Rogaine. It has also been proven to work effectively work for the front of the scalp as well in men.
Who should not use Rogaine?
Do consult a doctor before using Rogaine in any of the following cases:
• unexplained hair loss
• hair loss post childbirth
• a discoloured, itchy, infected or painful scalp condition
• sudden hair loss, which involves the hair falling out in patches
• if the hair loss is due to the usage of any hair products, chemicals, or hair grooming methods.
• Any medical condition that may cause hair loss, like thyroid disease or alopecia areata, nutritional deficiencies, or medications like chemotherapy.
Any person below the age of 18 years should take medical advice before using Rogaine.
How to Use Rogaine
Rogaine is a topical solution that should be applied directly to the scalp twice a day. The solution should be applied to dry hair and left on the scalp for at least four hours before washing it off.
It is important to adhere to the instructions on the packaging strictly and not to use more than the recommended amount. Using more Rogaine than recommended will not speed up hair growth and may increase the risk of side effects.
Side Effects of Rogaine
Like all medications, Rogaine can have side effects. The most common side effects include:
• scalp irritation, flaking, itching
• hair growth in adjacent areas, like your forehead
• changes in the texture or colour of the hair texture.
In case you experience any side effects while using Rogaine, it is important to talk to your doctor. They may recommend adjusting the dosage or switching to a different hair loss treatment.
Serious side effects with Rogaine are rare. Do approach your doctor in case you experience untoward symptoms like faintness or dizziness, swollen hand or feet, chest pain etc.
Frequently Asked Questions for Rogaine (Minoxidil):
Are there any side effects to taking Minoxidil?
It has been observed that generally women are more susceptible than men to some side effects of the medication, particularly unwanted facial hair growth, experiencing light-headedness and scalp irritation.
Can Minoxidil make my hair fall out?
When you initially start using Rogaine, you might notice an increase in hair shedding for the first couple of weeks - this is because your hair follicles push old hair out to make room for the new growth. Do not be alarmed - the shedding resolves as soon as the newer, healthier hairs grow in.
Do you lose hair once you discontinue the use of Minoxidil?
No. If you discontinue the use of Minoxidil, the hair will return to the point where it would have been, not back to where it was when treatment started, as untreated hair thinning is a progressive problem.
Is Rogaine Right for You?
Do consult a medical practitioner if you are considering using Rogaine to help with hair loss. The doctor can help determine if Rogaine is the right treatment for you and can provide guidance on how to use it properly.
While Rogaine is generally safe and effective, it may not work for everyone. It is important to be patient, have realistic expectations and accepts that it may take several months of consistent use before a noticeable difference is seen.
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