Is Minoxidil safe in the treatment of hair loss?

The are hundreds of hair loss treatments on the market that claim to promote new hair follicle growth however Minoxidil is one of the few that can actually support their claims with scientifically backed results. In a research paper published in the journal Dermatoligic Therapy, the authors found that approximately 40% of patients using Minoxidil will regrow hair after 3-6 months of use. This impressive result was found in sufferers of pattern baldness, and not other kinds of hair loss such as spot baldness or tinea.

Is Minoxidil safe to use?

Both Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and America’s Federal Drug Agency (FDA) classify topical Minoxidil in the treatment of pattern baldness as a non-prescription medicine. These means both drug regulatory agencies are satisfied that, when used topically, according to directions on the packaging, Minoxidil is safe to use without medical monitoring by a doctor.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that, “There is little likelihood of significant adverse effects attributable to topical Minoxidil because of its low systemic absorption,” meaning very little of the drug is absorbed into the blood stream. The study examined eight deaths that occurred during clinical trials of topical Minoxidil 20 years ago and found that seven of the deaths were the result of an unrelated medical condition (such as cardiovascular disease and pneumonia) and the eighth death was the result of a ‘self-inflicted gunshot wound’.

What are the side effects of using Minoxidil?

When applied topically side effects of using Minoxidil are rare, however a very small number of users have reported:

  • Minor burning or stinging on the application site
  • Skin redness or irritation on the application site
  • Exacerbation of hair loss/alopecia (easily reversed by discontinuing use of the drug)
  • Unwanted hair growth on parts of the body other than the scalp (easily reversed by discontinuing use of the drug).

In extremely rare cases the application of Minoxidil has been linked to allergic reactions including:

  • Rashes, hives and itching
  • Difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, hands or feet
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Elevated/irregular heart beat.

In the unlikely event you experience any of these rare side effects, it is very important you seek immediate medical assistance.

How does Minoxidil work?

Minoxidil was originally developed in the 1960s as a treatment for ulcers (found not to be very effective) and later for high blood pressure. Scientists found that one of the unexpected side effects amongst users was increased hair growth, which led to further trials and development in this area.

Scientists have not formed a consensus on how Minoxidil works in the promotion of hair growth. It is known that Minoxidil widens blood vessels which may result in more oxygen, blood, and nutrients being delivered to the hair follicle.

Where can I find Minoxidil?

National Custom Compounding can make up Minoxidil-based treatments for hair loss as well as advise on it’s safe use. For more information contact one of our friendly team members.