Minoxidil Not Working: Tips From A Dermatologist

minoxidil not working frustration
Written by
Our Editorial Team
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.

According to hair loss statistics, around two-thirds of men will undergo some extent of hair loss by the time they reach their 30s.

You are one of them, you saw did your research and started minoxidil.

But, for some reason, after a while, you don't see anything happening.

You're starting to think minoxidil's not working.

In this article, you'll know why minoxidil might not work, is it actually not working for you and what can you do about minoxidil ineffectiveness?

What are the reasons why didn't minoxidil work?

worried man about minoxidil not working

There are some potential reasons why the medication may not be effective.

One possibility is that the person using the medicine does not have a genetic predisposition for hair growth.

Another opportunity is that the person's scalp is not sufficiently healthy for hair to grow. Minoxidil results may also be less effective in people who are over the age of 40.

Finally, minoxidil may not work well in people who have already lost a significant amount of hair due to frontal baldness, for example.

Therefore, if you are considering using minoxidil, it is essential to speak with your doctor to determine whether or not it is likely to be effective.

What should you do when minoxidil's not working?

Here are a few suggestions for you from the diary of a dermatologist:

Be patient

Minoxidil is essential to any hair loss prevention regimen, but it can take time to see results.

For some people, it may take some months of consistent use before they start to see a reduction in hair loss.

Therefore, it is mandatory to be patient and continue applying the product correctly. The instructions on the label should be followed, either applying minoxidil once a day or twice a day.

If you stop using minoxidil, any progress you have made will be reversed.

Try a different treatment

If you have been using minoxidil for several months with no results, it may be time to try a different treatment.

We've been working on a comprehensive but concise guide to the best alternatives to minoxidil that will provide amazing hair regrowth!

Read the most effective alternatives to minoxidil!

before and after

Consult a healthcare professional

If you do not see results from minoxidil, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional. After all, they are the experts.

They will likely ask you questions about your medical history and family history. They will also want to know about your diet, stress levels, and exercise routine.

Once they have all the information, they can determine if minoxidil is the proper treatment for you. If it's not, they will likely recommend another course of treatment i.e. finasteride, nanoxidil, hair growth products or hair transplant.

So, if you do not see results from minoxidil, don't hesitate to consult a healthcare professional.

doctor checking woman's hair

Combine minoxidil with finasteride

If you're like most people, you probably start to panic when you realize that your hair loss treatment isn't working as well as you'd hoped.

But instead of reaching for the nearest bottle of Rogaine, take a deep breath and consider trying a combination therapy of minoxidil and finasteride.

Minoxidil is a vasodilator that helps to promote blood flow and hair growth.

At the same time, finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor that slows the rate of hair loss.

Together, these two medications can provide effective hair loss prevention for men.

So if your current treatment isn't giving you the desired results, don't give up hope just yet - try minoxidil and finasteride combo instead.

Better yet, use minoxidil with a dermaroller, it will help open up your scalp pores, allowing minoxidil to penetrate easier!

What is minoxidil?

minoxidil

Minoxidil was initially developed for the treatment of recalcitrant hypertension, in the form of an oral formulation. The investigators observed an increased hair growth, in the form of hypertrichosis.

The observation of increased hair growth led to the development of topical minoxidil formulation for the treatment of various forms of hair loss such as androgenetic alopecia, traction alopecia, and alopecia areata. There are two topical formulations of minoxidil, minoxidil solution and minoxidil foam.

Minoxidil foam has several benefits as compared to the minoxidil solution:

  • It dries more quickly
  • It does not contain propylene glycol (a compound responsible for causing irritation of the scalp)
  • It absorbs more readily
  • The active ingredients have greater penetration in the scalp

The topical formulations are available in 2% and 5% concentrations.

How does minoxidil work?

Get ready for some super sciency stuff! Or, scroll down to the solutions!

There are several mechanisms proposed by the investigators to explain the working of minoxidil and its effects on the hair growth cycle and the hair follicles.

One of the hypotheses describes that minoxidil causes the opening of potassium channels in the arterial smooth muscle, resulting in vasodilation and increased blood flow.

The topical formulation of minoxidil delivers this medication to the arteries found in the scalp. The vasodilation of these blood vessels increases the blood flow towards the growing hair follicles.

This not only provides the growing hair follicles with the necessary nutrients but also drains away harmful metabolites.

By acting on the potassium channels, minoxidil also promotes DNA synthesis in the cells of the hair follicles and promotes cell proliferation in the early stages of the cell cycle.

The action of minoxidil on the hair follicle is associated with its active metabolite, minoxidil sulfate. The formation of minoxidil sulfate is catalyzed by the enzyme known as sulfotransferase.

hair follicle how minoxidil works

What are the side effects of minoxidil?

Minoxidil is generally a safe and effective topical formulation for the treatment of hair loss in both male and female populations.

The common side effects of minoxidil may include headache, dizziness, and shedding of hair in clumps. These side effects are usually temporary and tend to subside with the cessation of minoxidil treatment.

Minoxidil may also cause temporary shedding of hair, which is in the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle. This subsides after a few weeks of treatment initiation.

More severe side effects of minoxidil may include sexual dysfunction, mental health deterioration, rapid heartbeat, fainting heartbeat, and chest pain.

In case of the occurrence of these side effects, you shall discontinue minoxidil and consult a medical professional at your earliest.

You can also consult your doctor before starting the treatment in order to avoid potential drug interactions or adverse events.

man frustrated from minoxidil not working

Conclusion

Minoxidil is a safe and effective treatment of hair loss associated with different conditions. This medication was initially developed as an oral formulation for the treatment of hypertension and was later approved for hair loss treatment. Minoxidil may have different side effects including scalp irritation.

While it is effective for hair loss and restoration of hair growth, minoxidil may not work for everyone. The health of the scalp, age of individuals with hair loss, and genetic predisposition are among the several factors that influence the action of minoxidil on the hair follicles for the suppression of hair loss and improvement in the hair growth.

For individuals who fail to derive benefits from minoxidil for hair loss treatment, they shall remain patient, combine minoxidil with finasteride, consult a healthcare professional, and/or try a different treatment.

Reference

Gupta AK;Charrette A. (2015). Topical Minoxidil: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Its Efficacy in Androgenetic Alopecia. Skinmed13(3). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26380504/

Gupta, A. K., Talukder, M., Venkataraman, M., & Bamimore, M. A. (2021). Minoxidil: a comprehensive review. Journal of Dermatological Treatment33(4), 1896–1906. https://doi.org/10.1080/09546634.2021.1945527

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