Minoxidil safety information
Minoxidil (6%) scalp solution is a cutaneous solution that is applied to the scalp. For external use only. Minoxidil (6%) is an unlicensed medication - you can find more information on unlicensed medications here.
What minoxidil is used for
Minoxidil is used to treat male pattern hair loss in men aged 18-65 years. It is thought to work by dilating the blood vessels and supplying nutrient-rich blood to the hair follicles. The exact process by which this occurs is not known.
How to tell if minoxidil is suitable for you
Minoxidil works best in men with hair loss or thinning at the top of the scalp (see diagrams). It is also suitable for men who have:
- Noticed gradual hair loss or thinning over time
- A family history of hair loss
- Hair loss with no other symptoms
If you have been bald for many years or have a large area of hair loss, it is unlikely that minoxidil will be an effective treatment for you.
When minoxidil should not be used
Minoxidil should not be used:
- If you suffer from a problem with blood pressure
- If you have any condition that affects your scalp including sunburn and psoriasis or if you use other creams, ointments, lotions etc. used to treat scalp conditions e.g. dithranol, tretinoin, corticosteroids (steroids) and petrolatum products (soft paraffin) or have any kind of dressing or bandage on your scalp
- For sudden, unexpected hair loss which may be linked to thyroid or other medical problems
- Total baldness or complete loss of all body hair
- Hair loss caused by drug treatment
- If you have a shaved head
- If you are allergic to minoxidil, ethanol or propylene glycol
- If you are under 18 or over 65 years
- If you are a woman
If you suffer from heart disease (including abnormal heart rhythms or rates, angina or chest pains) and/or circulation disorders you should seek the advice of your doctor before using minoxidil.
There is a risk that minoxidil may interact with certain blood pressure medicines called “vasodilators”, and alter their effect. You should consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking such medication.
It is very important that you use minoxidil as recommended on this safety information page. Using too much minoxidil can cause it to be absorbed into the blood, which may result in side effects such as rapid heartbeat, faintness or dizziness, or swollen hands or feet. However, when minoxidil is used as recommended it is extremely unlikely that any of these side effects will occur.
Minoxidil can also be absorbed into the blood if you are unusually sensitive to minoxidil, or if it is used when there is a scalp condition (such as psoriasis) present. Therefore, it is important that you follow the recommendations and advice on this safety information page when using minoxidil.
How long minoxidil takes to work
It usually takes 2 or more months to notice hair regrowth. This is because hair growth is a slow process, so it takes time for regrown hairs to become noticeable. Regrown hair will be soft and downy at the start but should eventually become the same as normal hair. The time it takes to notice hair regrowth may vary from person-to-person.
Please be aware that some slight hair loss may occur after 2-6 weeks of use. This is likely to be a result of the hair re-growth cycle and should subside within a couple of weeks. If shedding persists for longer than 2 weeks you should stop using minoxidil and consult your doctor.
If there is no hair re-growth after 12 months it is very unlikely that you will respond and you should stop using minoxidil. Please consult your doctor if you are concerned at any time during treatment.
For the best results, you should continue to use minoxidil every day if hair regrowth occurs, to maintain the hair you re-grew. If you decide to stop using minoxidil, it is likely that you will lose any re-grown hair within 3-4 months.
How to use minoxidil
Minoxidil must only be used on the scalp. Make sure your scalp is normal and healthy before applying minoxidil. Do not use minoxidil on other parts of the body. If accidentally applied to any other part of the body, rinse thoroughly with water.
To use minoxidil:
- Make sure your scalp is dry before applying the solution
- Apply 6 sprays (1ml) to the affected area/s of the scalp twice daily (once in the morning and once at night)
- Wash your hands thoroughly after use.
Avoid contact with the eyes, broken skin and sensitive areas. If accidentally applied to these parts, wash with plenty of water.
Do not use more than 2ml minoxidil daily (do not spray it on your scalp more than twice a day). Exceeding the recommended dose will not re-grow your hair any more quickly and you may risk side effects.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after applying minoxidil and rinse other areas that have come into contact with it.
Side-effects of minoxidil
Stop using minoxidil if you get any of the following:
- Blood pressure changes
- Rapid heartbeat
- New or worsening pain in the chest
- Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting
- Unexplained rapid weight gain of more than 2 kg or 5 pounds
- Swelling or puffiness of the hands or feet
- Persistent redness or irritation of the scalp
Minoxidil can cause skin irritation (e.g. local redness, itching, dryness, scalp flaking). Although this might only be a temporary effect, stop using the product if it persists.
Stop using minoxidil if you notice changes in hair colour and/or texture.
Minoxidil may cause a burning sensation and irritation if you get it in the eye. If you get minoxidil in your eye, mouth or on a cut or damaged skin, wash the area well with lots of cool tap water.
Unwanted non-scalp hair has sometimes been reported after using minoxidil. Always wash your hands thoroughly after application and if accidentally applied to parts of the body other than the scalp, rinse thoroughly with water.
Keep minoxidil out of reach of children. If anyone (cluding a child) ingests minoxidil, take them to the hospital immediately with the minoxidil bottle (so the doctor can see how much they have ingested).
If you experience any other side effects not mentioned on this safety information page, you should consult your doctor.
How to store minoxidil
Keep the bottle in a safe place, below 25°C (normal room temperature).
Keep out of the reach and sight of children. When empty, dispose of the bottle safely. To properly dispose of a partially-used bottle, empty as much of the contents as you can into a sink, and wash away with running water. Never try to burn a bottle of minoxidil.