16 Potential Side Effects Of Minoxidil For Women

Medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated

Minoxidil, the only FDA-approved topical ingredient for treating hair loss, offers hope for women dealing with female pattern hair loss (FPHL).

This type of hair loss affects about 40% of women by the time they turn 50. It usually starts as slight thinning around the hair part and slowly gets worse over time.

Both genetics and estrogen levels play a big role in FPHL, and it's more common after menopause.

Even though Minoxidil is considered a safe treatment for hair loss in women, it's important to know about its possible side effects.

In this article, we'll talk about the potential side effects of Minoxidil for women and explore alternative treatment options worth considering.

Summary

Hair loss is a common problem among women, and minoxidil is a widely used medication for treating it.

While minoxidil is generally safe, it can cause several side effects, such as scalp irritation, excess hair loss or growth, low blood pressure, and possible adverse effects on fetal development.

It’s important to be aware of these side effects and consult a healthcare provider before starting any hair loss treatment.

Other alternatives to minoxidil include dietary changes, biotin supplements, and hair transplant surgery. Laser therapy is also an option, although its effectiveness is still being studied.

Scandinavian Biolabs is another alternative that offers a 3-step hair growth routine developed by experts to help reduce hair thinning, encourage hair growth, and maintain strong and vital hair.

The routine contains multiple plant growth factors developed through stem cell technology and is safe for everyday use.

In the end, you need to think carefully and take a personalized approach to find the right solution for your hair loss.

What are the side effects of Minoxidil for women?

minoxidil for women side effects

As women turn to Minoxidil to combat hair loss, it's crucial to be well-informed about the potential side effects associated with this treatment.

Even though most users have good results, some may have bad effects that can range from mild to severe.

Below is a list of possible side effects women may experience while using minoxidil.

1. Skin irritation, inflammation, and facial hair growth

The most common side effect of Minoxidil in women is contact dermatitis, which is irritation and inflammation of the skin.

Most of the time, this inflammatory reaction happens within minutes to hours after the next dose or use of the product.

Contact dermatitis on the scalp can cause itching, skin flaking off, redness, irritation, and a burning feeling.

Before using Minoxidil all over the scalp, it is best to do a patch test to make sure you don't have any bad reactions.

Apply a small amount of the product to a hidden part of your scalp and wait 24 hours to see if anything happens.

This precautionary measure allows you to gauge your skin's sensitivity to the treatment and determine whether it is safe for continued use.

2. Hair growth in undesired areas

Minoxidil can also cause hair to grow in places you don't want it to. For example, if the medicine gets on your face by accident, it can cause unwanted hair to grow there.

Studies reveal that this side effect tends to occur more frequently in women than in men, though the exact reason for this disparity remains unknown.

Research has documented instances of unwanted hair growth in a wide range of 3 to 51 percent of female participants.

Generally, it takes about 8 weeks for the side effects of this excessive hair growth to become noticeable.

In exceptionally rare cases, individuals may develop generalized hypertrichosis, which is characterized by increased hair growth in areas not directly exposed to the treatment.

This condition is most commonly observed in adolescents and children.

To minimize the risk of unwanted hair growth, it is crucial to apply the Minoxidil topical solution very cautiously and adhere to the recommended usage guidelines.

3. Temporary hair shedding

Minoxidil use may occasionally result in a temporary form of hair loss called minoxidil-induced telogen effluvium.

This side effect arises due to the treatment's impact on the natural hair growth cycle, which encompasses four distinct stages:

  1. Anagen - the active growth phase
  2. Catagen - the transition phase during which growth halts
  3. Telogen - the resting phase when hair is not actively growing
  4. Exogen - the shedding phase where old hair falls out

Minoxidil's primary function is to stimulate the anagen phase, fostering hair growth. However, it can also unintentionally shorten the telogen phase, causing increased hair shedding.

This shedding usually commences between 2 and 8 weeks after starting the treatment.

A study from 2011 highlighted that 17.5 percent of women who applied a 2 percent minoxidil solution twice daily experienced hair shedding, while 12.5 percent of women who used a 5 percent minoxidil solution once per day reported similar shedding.

It's crucial to understand that this hair shedding is temporary and should decrease as the hair growth cycle stabilizes with ongoing treatment.

The duration and intensity of this temporary shedding can differ among individuals. Generally, it takes about 8 weeks of consistent use to begin noticing results with minoxidil.

Read this: Minoxidil: Before and After Results (With Pictures)

4. Possible adverse effects on fetal development

Minoxidil usage may have possible adverse effects on fetal development during pregnancy.

The FDA categorizes Rogaine as a category C pregnancy drug, which indicates that there is insufficient human testing to confirm its safety for fetal development.

Moreover, animal studies have suggested potential risks associated with the drug during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding women should also exercise caution and avoid using Rogaine, as it may enter breast milk and potentially affect the nursing infant.

As a result, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to consult with their healthcare provider before using minoxidil products to discuss alternative treatments and weigh the potential risks and benefits.

5. Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to minoxidil, while relatively rare, can occur in some individuals. Symptoms of an allergic reaction typically manifest quickly and may include hives, itchiness, inflammation, and rash.

It is possible for an individual to be allergic to minoxidil itself or another ingredient commonly found in Rogaine products, such as propylene glycol.

If an allergy to propylene glycol is suspected, users can opt for the foam form of Rogaine, which does not contain this particular ingredient.

However, if an allergy to minoxidil is determined, it is essential to discontinue the treatment altogether.

In either case, consulting with a healthcare professional is advised to discuss alternative treatment options and receive guidance on how to safely address any allergic reactions to minoxidil or its components.

6. Low blood pressure

Low blood pressure could happen if you use minoxidil, but this doesn't happen often.

Minoxidil functions by relaxing blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily, and thus helping to lower blood pressure.

In most cases, taking Minoxidil has a negligible effect on an individual's blood pressure, but some people may experience more pronounced symptoms.

A 2015 case study documented a patient who developed low blood pressure after using a highly concentrated minoxidil cream for 12 weeks. Upon discontinuing the cream, the man's blood pressure returned to a normal range.

It is important to note that the minoxidil preparation used in this study contained more than twice the concentration found in over-the-counter foam products.

Consequently, the risk of experiencing low blood pressure as a side effect of minoxidil may be linked to the concentration and form of the product used.

It is important to follow the directions for use and talk to a medical professional if you have any questions or problems.

Read this: How Long Does Minoxidil Take To Work?

7. Headaches

Headaches are another potential side effect of minoxidil use, particularly among women. Studies have reported that approximately 2 to 7 percent of women experience headaches after taking minoxidil.

Even though this side effect is not very common, it is important to be aware that it could happen and keep track of any changes in how often or how bad headaches are.

8. Heart palpitations

Heart palpitations are a potential side effect of minoxidil use, and in some cases, minoxidil can increase heart rate and cause or exacerbate chest pain.

A 2011 study found that around 3.5 percent of women experienced palpitations after starting minoxidil treatment.

To stop this, doctors often prescribe a beta-adrenergic blocking drug and minoxidil to lower the risk of chest pain and a faster heart rate.

People who have had heart problems should talk to their doctor before starting minoxidil treatment to discuss possible risks, benefits, precautions, or other treatment options.

Monitoring any changes in heart rate or rhythm while using minoxidil is essential. If you experience new or worsening pain in the chest, arm, or shoulders, you must inform your doctor immediately.

9. Feeling nauseous

Feeling nauseous is another potential side effect associated with minoxidil use. Even though nausea is not a common side effect of the treatment, it can still make people feel bad.

Nausea as a side effect of minoxidil use may occur due to the drug's impact on blood pressure and blood flow.

As minoxidil works by relaxing blood vessels and promoting blood circulation, these changes in the body's vascular system can sometimes lead to nausea.

A person's sensitivity to the drug or its ingredients could also make them feel sick.

If nausea persists or worsens after using topical minoxidil for hair loss, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional.

10. Experiencing vomiting episodes

Experiencing vomiting episodes is another potential side effect of minoxidil use. Even though it doesn't happen often, some people may be sensitive to the drug or one of its ingredients, which can cause stomach pain and vomiting.

11. Acne formation at the application site

A potential side effect of minoxidil use is the development of acne at the site of application. The ingredients in the product, such as alcohol or propylene glycol, can cause skin irritation and clog pores, leading to acne formation.

It is important for users to monitor their skin closely during treatment and seek professional medical advice and attention if acne develops, persists, or worsens.

Other potential side effects

Additional symptoms have been reported with minoxidil use, but their incidence rate is unknown. These symptoms may vary depending on individual factors and may include:

Medications that may interact with Minoxidil in women

Minoxidil, often used as an oral medication to lower blood pressure, is relatively safe to use topically for hair loss treatments and typically has a minimal effect on blood pressure.

However, drug interactions can occur when Minoxidil is used in combination with certain medications, such as diuretics or hypotensive medications.

These interactions can lead to low blood pressure, potentially causing dizziness or fainting.

Women taking guanethidine for blood pressure management are advised to be under medical supervision during their initial use of Minoxidil to monitor any changes in blood pressure.

Best alternatives to Minoxidil for women

1. Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine

alternative to topical minoxidil, minoxidil topical solution

The Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine is an effective alternative to minoxidil for women who are looking for a minoxidil-free solution to reduce hair thinning, support new hair growth, and maintain strong, vital hair.

The 3-Step Hair Growth Routine has been developed by experts and is safe for everyday use. The product contains multiple plant growth factors developed through stem cell technology to help nurture hair follicles and encourage hair growth.

The formula is inspired by nature and formulated with quality, effective ingredients.

Every active ingredient has been chosen based on a rigorous review of scientific literature and is evaluated by a third-party laboratory to ensure quality.

The active ingredients include Capilia Longa, Niacinamide, and Aloe Vera, all of which have been shown to improve hair density and reduce hair loss in research studies.

The product has received positive feedback from 93% of users after 150 days.

Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Formulated to combat thinning hair & visible scalp

2. Finasteride

Finasteride is an FDA-approved oral medication for treating male pattern hair loss.

Although it is sometimes prescribed for postmenopausal women with female pattern hair loss (aka androgenetic alopecia), it is not typically recommended for premenopausal women.

It is important to take finasteride under the direction of a physician since it can have serious side effects, especially for pregnant women, as it may harm male fetuses.

Therefore, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not use finasteride.

Overall, taking finasteride might be a good substitute for minoxidil for some women with FPHL, but a doctor should always closely monitor its use.

Read this: Dutasteride vs. Finasteride: Which One Is Better?

3. Dietary changes

diet for hair growth

If your hair loss is due to a nutrient deficiency, making changes to your diet may help stimulate hair growth.

A healthy and balanced diet that is rich in essential nutrients such as protein, zinc, biotin, vitamin A, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C can help to nourish hair follicles and promote healthy hair growth.

Foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, and legumes, can help to strengthen hair and prevent breakage.

Vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach can help to support a healthy scalp and promote hair growth.

Iron is also important for hair health, and foods such as red meat, poultry, beans, and leafy greens can help boost iron levels.

Additionally, B vitamins, found in whole grains, eggs, and nuts, can help to promote healthy hair growth, while vitamin C, found in fruits like citrus, berries, and kiwi, can help to strengthen hair and prevent breakage.

4. Laser therapy

Laser therapy, also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT), is a treatment for female pattern hair loss that can be done at home.

However, the effectiveness of LLLT in treating hair loss is not well-established. While some studies suggest that it may effectively treat hair loss and stimulate hair regrowth, there is a need for more research in this area.

The FDA has approved low-level light therapy devices, such as combs and helmets, to treat both male and female hair loss.

5. Hair transplant

Hair transplant is a surgical procedure that involves removing hair follicles from one area of the scalp and transplanting them to an area that is balding or thinning.

There are two main methods: follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).

It can be expensive and may require multiple sessions, with possible complications such as scarring and infection. Consult a healthcare provider to determine if it’s the right option.

Conclusion

Hair loss is a common problem among women, and minoxidil is a widely used medication for treating it.

While minoxidil is generally safe, it can cause several side effects, such as scalp irritation, excess hair loss or growth, low blood pressure, and possible adverse effects on fetal development.

It’s important to be aware of these side effects and consult a healthcare provider before starting any hair loss treatment.

Other alternatives to minoxidil include dietary changes, biotin supplements, and hair transplant surgery. Laser therapy is also an option, although its effectiveness is still being studied.

Scandinavian Biolabs is another alternative that offers a 3-step hair growth routine developed by experts to help reduce hair thinning, encourage hair growth, and maintain strong and vital hair.

The routine contains multiple plant growth factors developed through stem cell technology and is safe for everyday use.

In the end, you need to think carefully and take a personalized approach to find the right solution for your hair loss.

Read more:

Dr Amy Revene M.B.B.S. graduated from the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. She is currently working as a General Physician at New Hope Medical Center. Amy has a passion for research and offers her expertise and opinions to help people in their quest to lead healthy, happy lives.