The Independent Pharmacy

Minoxidil - Scientific Review

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 15 Jan 2024

For many experiencing hair loss, the search for solutions online can be not just overwhelming but also emotionally draining. The myriad of contradictory advice and treatments available makes it hard to determine where to start. However, one medication emerges as a well-researched frontrunner for hair regrowth in the sea of purported baldness cures – minoxidil, also available as Regaine or Regaine for Women.

Upon digging deeper into research on alopecia treatments, the intriguing science behind how minoxidil works to revive dormant hair follicles is uncovered. Gaining a greater understanding of this popular medication can instil confidence that it may aid in bringing hair back.

Here’s what scientific studies say about this medical treatment of pattern hair loss.

Key Findings:

  • Minoxidil is well-proven through rigorous studies to stimulate hair regrowth by revitalising shrunken follicles when used consistently over the long term.
  • Both the 5% and 2% formulations available work, but robust evidence shows 5% delivers faster, better results for most hereditary hair thinning cases.
  • Real-world application requires patience through an initial phase as follicles restart growth cycles, but progress photography helps motivation.

What You Need to Know About Minoxidil

Minoxidil first emerged as a common medication for controlling high blood pressure. However, both patients and doctors soon observed an intriguing side effect - the stimulation of new non-scarring alopecia hair growth in areas of topical application to the skin. Scientists found that applying minoxidil to the scalp helps to increase blood flow. This brings more nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles, which can help reverse hair thinning. Reviving compromised follicles sparks the emergence of new healthy terminal hairs, restoring hair density and fullness.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved two concentrations of topical minoxidil solution for the treatment of common male and female pattern hair loss – 2% and 5%. Studies show that for people with inherited hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), the 5% minoxidil solution often works better and has more visible results. Meanwhile, women often opt for the 2% minoxidil concentration to treat the genetic condition resulting in common female pattern hair loss, with robust evidence also supporting its ability to successfully promote visible hair regrowth when applied twice daily as directed to the scalp skin.

Breaking Down the Science: What Do Studies Say?

Turning to established scientific studies helps validate potential hair regrowth treatments beyond anecdotal evidence. One double-blind, randomised controlled trial analysed 6 months of application of 5% topical minoxidil solution in 300 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia compared to a placebo. Results indicated over 50% greater hair density increase from baseline in the treatment group compared to placebo after only 4 months of daily application. Further high-quality studies incorporating hundreds of patients echo findings that consistent use of topical minoxidil can boost new growth even in difficult cases unresponsive to other medications.

For example, researchers recently evaluated hair regrowth effects of 5% versus 2% minoxidil in a randomised trial with 381 women over 48 weeks. Testing photographic evidence showed that 5% minoxidil increased hair count by over 30% on average, compared to around 18% for the 2% concentration and just 3% for the placebo. This builds on an earlier study of 393 patients that clearly validated superior efficacy of 5% over 2% formula in treating pattern baldness. Together, these add to the mounting proof that strategic twice-daily application of evidence-based formulations can promote the revival of shrinking follicles.

Although scientists are still studying exactly how minoxidil works to wake up sleeping hair follicles, current research supports its effectiveness in stimulating new hair growth. If you’re feeling disheartened by the ongoing loss of your hair, take heart in knowing that there’s substantial evidence supporting the effectiveness of this gentle, non-invasive treatment.

Highlighting Key Research: A Closer Look at Clinical Trials

Study 1

This clinical study involved 65 male patients with androgenetic alopecia, comparing the efficacy of low-dose oral finasteride and topical treatment application of 5% Minoxidil. It found that both drugs were effective in increasing hair growth, with mild adverse effects reported.

The study underscores the importance of considering different medications like Minoxidil and finasteride in the treatment of male-pattern hair loss. This research contributes to a broader understanding of androgenetic alopecia, emphasising the need for individualised treatment plans.

Number of Participants: 65

Study 2

In this comparative study of 393 patients, researchers evaluated the hair regrowth benefits of 5% and 2% topical Minoxidil solutions against a placebo. The study concluded that 5% Minoxidil showed a greater increase in hair growth and was more beneficial than both 2% Minoxidil and placebo.

This finding is pivotal in guiding clinicians and patients in choosing the right concentration of Minoxidil for optimal hair regrowth. Additionally, the study contributes to the systematic review of topical treatments for pattern hair loss.

Number of Participants: 393

Study 3

This research involved 36 men with male-pattern hair loss, examining the effects of 2% and 5% topical Minoxidil and placebo on hair density. The study showed that both concentrations of Minoxidil significantly enhanced hair regrowth compared to the placebo.

This trial’s outcomes provide crucial insights into the clinical efficacy of Minoxidil in varying concentrations, supporting its use as a first-line treatment for hair loss. These results are essential in clinical dermatology, helping to inform treatment decisions.

Number of Participants: 36

Study 4

A total of 200 patients participated in this clinical study to assess the effects of 5% Minoxidil and 1% pyrithione zinc and their combination on hair count and hair diameter. The clinical study data showed that utilising both 5% topical Minoxidil and a specialty zinc shampoo medication independently facilitated noticeable improvements in critical hair regrowth parameters related to hair density and diameter. However, findings did not demonstrate additional boosting of treatment efficacy from combining the two regimens.

These latest investigation results further highlight the proven ability of properly formulated topical Minoxidil solutions to dramatically revive miniaturised follicles and renew scalp vitality - as quantified by significant increases in emerging hair shaft widths and terminal hair counts per area. Such clinically verified therapeutic impacts surely underscore the indispensable first-line positioning of Minoxidil for addressing the profound emotional implications of hair loss disorders.

Number of Participants: 200

Study 5

This study, involving 352 patients, tested a new formula of 5% Minoxidil topical foam for the treatment of male-pattern hair loss. Results at 16 weeks showed significant hair regrowth and overall improvement in hair condition, establishing the clinical efficacy of this Minoxidil formula.

The study provides valuable insights into innovative topical application methods for Minoxidil, expanding treatment options for patients. It also highlights the role of newer formulations in enhancing patient compliance and satisfaction in the medical treatment of hair loss.

Number of Participants: 352

Study 6

In this randomised clinical trial with 381 female patients, the effectiveness of 5% and 2% topical Minoxidil solutions in treating female pattern hair loss was evaluated. The study found 5% Minoxidil more effective in increasing hair count and density compared to 2% Minoxidil and placebo.

This research is crucial in understanding female pattern hair loss and the differential response to Minoxidil concentrations, guiding treatment for female patients. It underscores the importance of personalised medication in treating this common non-scarring alopecia in women.

Number of Participants: 381

Study 7

This research involved 300 Japanese men, comparing 5% and 1% Minoxidil solutions for treating androgenetic alopecia. The study concluded that 5% Minoxidil was more effective in promoting hair regrowth, showing a significant increase in hair density.

The findings are significant in understanding the variability of response to Minoxidil in different ethnic populations, highlighting the need for diverse clinical studies in dermatology. This comparative study also adds to the global knowledge of effective concentrations of Minoxidil in the treatment of pattern hair loss.

Number of Participants: 300

Practical Insights: Using Minoxidil for the Best Results

Once you’re reassured by the solid science behind Minoxidil, you might wonder how this treatment can seamlessly fit into your daily life, especially when you’re juggling so many other responsibilities. The key is staying consistent - applying morning and night supports healthy hair growth results. Easy foam preparations absorb quickly without sticky residues, making integration into daily grooming routines painless.

It’s not uncommon to initially notice some hair shedding – this can be worrying, but it’s actually a positive sign that the treatment is working and your hair’s natural hair growth cycle is reactivating. Mild skin irritation or unwanted vellus hair development (fine, short, and light-coloured hairs that are often barely noticeable) could arise, prompting simple discontinuation. However, side effects are generally uncommon.

It’s important to remember that each person’s journey with hair loss is unique and influenced by their individual genetics, age, and hormonal balance. Following medical guidance to tailor dosage, vehicle, and schedule while pairing with nutraceuticals or devices amplifies regrowth potential. Methodically tracking progress through timed photographic evidence aids motivation.

With minoxidil, the premier topical choice for treating hereditary miniaturisation (shrinking of hair follicles) and loss, trusted online pharmacies like The Independent Pharmacy facilitate personalised prescribing based on confidential consultations with caring clinicians focused on patient needs and treatment goals.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Navigating treatment for androgenetic alopecia often begins with uncertainty, but know there are caring allies ready to guide you. As an easily accessible online pharmacy, The Independent Pharmacy assesses patient symptoms and medical history through quick, confidential self-assessment. Then, our team gets in touch with you with personalised treatments for your hair loss type and severity as well as lifestyle factors. Any personalised medication you order is sent out fast in private, secure packages, making it easy to apply the treatment twice a day.

Follow-up consultations ensure optimal treatment response, with caring experts wholly dedicated to globally restoring hair density along with self-confidence. Receive ongoing encouragement and troubleshooting advice to maintain motivation and compliance. Have peace of mind knowing your custom formulations arrive reliably through safe handling and delivery.

Take control by taking the first step towards your personalised hair regrowth plan today, and know that you’re not alone on this journey.

FAQs

Does minoxidil actually regrow hair?

Yes. Multiple studies confirm consistent long-term minoxidil treatment of hair loss helps regrow visible hairs in thinning hereditary loss spots by revitalising shrunken follicles. Effectiveness is highest for genetic male and female pattern baldness.

Is 5% minoxidil better than 2%?

Clinical trials demonstrate the 5% solution formula promotes markedly better regrowth in density and thickness. But dermatologists may still start some patients on 2% based on case factors, especially for milder/early genetic thinning aimed at preventing progression.

Does minoxidil age your face?

Despite online rumours, no research links proper minoxidil application to facial wrinkles. But some patients report temporary dryness/irritation when overusing or spreading beyond the scalp. Adjusting the amount and moisturising after use typically resolves this quickly.

What happens at 3 months of minoxidil?

Studies show that the response timeline varies - some note early new sprouts, while over 50% see substantial regrowth emerge at 4+ months as dormant follicles slowly restart growth cycles. Tracking progress via consistent timeline photos aids in motivation to persevere.

Sources:

Hair loss - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Minoxidil_for_hair_loss_GHPI1649_04_21.pdf (gloshospitals.nhs.uk)

Women and hair loss: coping tips - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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