Does Rogain (Minoxidil) Work?

Rogaine is one of the most widely discussed hair loss treatments. Originally the active ingredient in Rogaine, minoxidil, was used orally as treatment for high blood pressure. But during its use researchers noticed that nearly 80% of the patients also experienced new hair growth…

“Hair growth developed within three to six weeks after administration of the tablets. It was first noticed in the temple area, between the eyebrows, between the hairline and eyebrows or in the area of the upper lateral cheek. Later it was found to extend to the back, arms, legs or scalp.”

Obviously no one wants to look like a wookie with a furry face, but the potential was realised with the concept of a topical treatment that could be applied to specific areas i.e. your balding scalp. And so Rogaine was born…

How Does It Work?

Although the exact mechanism of how minoxidil works is unclear it’s thought that it helps in a number of ways. Minoxidil is a potassium channel opener that causes vasodilation. In plain English this means it is opens up capillaries in your scalp bring more blood into the hair follicle. This could well explain how Rogaine triggers and sustains hair growth. But…

…there have been numerous attempts to stimulate re-growth with many other vasolidators – without results. Another theory is that minoxidil, as a potassium channel opener sparks the production of something called VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor). VEGF is thought to help new blood vessels form which help sustain healthy hair follicles.

How Effective is Rogaine?

The studies on Rogaine indicate that it works best for people who have been balding from 2 to 10 years. If you’ve been balding for greater than 10 years then it could be less effective. Also it appears the effects of minoxidil work best on the top of scalp but not quite so well on the temples and front of the hairline. So if you’ve been balding for less than 10 years and mainly on the top of your scalp then Rogaine could be a strong option to consider.

After reading various hair loss forums it appears the feedback on minoxidil is more than positive with many people seeing new hair growth and maintaining their hair using Rogaine, particularly those people who stuck with the treatment for at least 6 to 12 months. Studies back this up…

“Use of topical minoxidil in the treatment of male pattern baldness.
Savin RC. This 12-month, double-blind, randomized study evaluated the safety and efficacy of topical minoxidil in the treatment of male pattern baldness. Three formulations were compared: 2% minoxidil solution, 3% minoxidil solution, and placebo. After 4 months all placebo patients crossed over to treatment with the 3% solution. Of the 96 patients randomized into the study, 79 were evaluable at month 12; 25 of these were in the 2% minoxidil group, 24 were in the 3% minoxidil group, and 29 were in the placebo-to-3% solution switchover group … At the end of 4 months there was significant regrowth of nonvellus (terminal and indeterminate) hairs in the patients using the 2% and 3% solutions (p = 0.0001). The mean nonvellus hair count at month 4 was 162.8 in the 2% minoxidil group, 155.4 in the 3% minoxidil group, and 107.1 in the placebo group. The mean increase in the 2% and 3% treatment groups was 58.2 and 48.8, respectively, whereas the mean increase in the placebo group was 4.0. Total hair counts at month 4 demonstrated significantly more growth of hair in the 2% minoxidil group than in the placebo group (p = 0.013), with no significant difference between the 3% minoxidil group and the other two treatment groups.( PMID: 3549804 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE])

It also seems that the liquid form of Rogaine is considerably more effective than the foam versions. I imagine this is simply because it far better absorbed in liquid than foam.

Are there any Side Effects?

One of the side effects with Rogaine is that on occasions it can cause unwanted hair growth around the eyebrows. This happens if you are not careful with its application, it can be systemically absorbed into the body so that it doesn’t just act on the scalp. In order to minimise this you should: only apply it to the problem areas, ensure that you wash your hands fully after application, make sure that there are no open wounds on your scalp (e.g. open spots or pimples) and don’t over use the treatment.

Other side effects, which are fairly rare, can include heart palpitations, water retention and light headedness. For the vast majority of people there minoxidil is well tolerated…

“Minoxidil is a remarkably potent hypotensive with relatively few side effects” (Long-term treatment of severe hypertension with minoxidil. Can Med Assoc J. 1977 November 19; 117(10): 1178–1182.)

When you first start using Rogaine you may initially experience some shedding of hair, however, this fairly run of the mill…

“Recently, some studies using a digital phototrichogram (Trichoscan, Marburg, Germany) proved that there was indeed a quantifiable increase in shedding and a corresponding loss of hair density in the first 3 months of minoxidil use. However, by the 6 month stage the subjects were shown to have re-grown the lost hair and had increased hair density compared to that recorded at the start of treatment. By 12 months after starting minoxidil use their hair density was much improved and the diameter of the hair fibers was thicker than at the start of treatment and as compared to controls who did not receive treatment.” (Source Dr. Kevin McElwee – HairLossTalk)

So if you want to pursue the use of Rogaine you’ll need to give it time. Another issue with Rogaine is that once start treatment you’ll need to continue with its use to maintain results. Stopping use means you’ll go back to square one – sadly Rogaine is treatment NOT a cure. But if you are willing to continually use it then there’s a fair chance you may be able to stave of hair loss.

Am I going to use it?

For now I’ve decided against using Rogaine – I am going to exhaust natural remedies before I take this route. However, if in future I’m getting nowhere then I may well reconsider adding Rogaine to my regime. We’ll see.

If you do start taking Rogaine in all probability you’ll see results if you stick with it for at least a few months. But you have to balance this up against the fact you’ll need to continue treatment to sustain that progress…

Read More About and Buy Rogaine Here.

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This article was written on July 7, 2008 was posted in these categories Hair Products .