It’s not just men who have to deal with hair loss. Thanks to genetics, some women experience thinning hair as young as age 25. A common treatment method for hair loss for both men and women is minoxidil, which is sold under the brand name Rogaine, as well as in generic forms. It’s not a magic bullet, but using the medicine as directed could help many women regain lost hair.
Minoxidil was originally intended to be used as an oral medication to lower blood pressure, according to WebMD. Excess hair growth was one side effect of the anti-hypertensive medicine, which sparked the idea of using the product to fight hair loss. Rogaine and generic versions of minoxidil are available for both men and women over-the-counter in either 2 percent or 5 percent topical ointments. Only the 2 percent version is approved by the FDA for use by women, though you may be able to use the 5 percent version under the supervision of your doctor.
Apply Rogaine directly to the affected areas of your scalp to see improvement. You should use apply it twice a day to a dry scalp. Massage the ointment in, making sure you coat the affected area completely. You should apply the solution after shampooing your hair or else wait for four hairs before washing your hair. Let the ointment dry fully before adding styling products to your hair. Since it can stain clothing and bed linens, always let it dry before putting on a hat or putting your head down on a pillow.
What You Can Expect
Patience is important when using minoxidil. Your hair will not magically return overnight. The hair that does come back may be a bit thinner than your old hair, according to MayoClinic.com. It may not grow as long as the hair you had previously, but it should be enough to cover over any areas of thinning.
When you first start using Rogaine or another minoxidil product, you may lose more hair in the first few weeks. It can take as long as three months for your hair to begin to grow back. Some women may not see any results after six months. If that is the case for you, you may want to talk with your doctor about other options. To continue to see hair growth, you must keep using the product, according to MayoClinic.com.
Since it is a topical medication and a low dose, side effects from minoxidil tend to be rare. You may experience a rash or irritation on your scalp, especially if you use Rogaine on the same day that you dye or otherwise treat your hair. Rare side effects may happen if you use too much of the product, such as blurred vision, dizziness and swelling. Avoid these by always using Rogaine or other minoxidil products as directed.