Rogaine and Minoxidil - Shall I Use Any of Them?

Rogaine was the first medicinal drug in history approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating male pattern baldness. By now it has been approved and is available as a cure for hair loss in many other countries outside of the US. Its main active ingredient is minoxidil, a vasodilator that was originally used in the form of the oral drug Loniten to treat high blood pressure. Minoxidil is a hair-growth stimulant but its exact mechanism of action is not known. Since Loniten has long come off patent, generic minoxidil is widely available in pharmacies around the world and in most countries it does not require a doctor’s prescription.

Both Rogaine and generic minoxidil solutions come in concentrations of 2% for women and 5% for men but many experimental generic products use concentrations of up to 20%. Minoxidil is often blamed for causing negative side effects. Since it has become the most frequently-used drug for treating baldness, its side effects are documented and they happen to be often exaggerated. In less than one percent of patients they include an irregular or fast heart beat, decreased pressure, blurred vision, swelling face and ankles, numbness in the hands, etc. These symptoms are directly related to minoxidil being a vasodilator. In addition, minoxidil can cause an accelerated hair growth on the face and other parts of the body. This is due to its ability to stimulate hair growth. But some side effects that minoxidil is often blamed for are not caused by this drug itself. They include inflammation, itchiness and redness of the scalp, dandruff and allergic reactions. These side effects are attributed to the vehicles used in the solution, such as propylene glycol and isopropyl alcohol (propanol). Many hair loss sufferers have discontinued their minoxidil treatment because of scalp problems, although minoxidil seldom causes such reactions.

In addition to that, many generic, minoxidil-based lotions contain supplementary substances that are supposed to enhance their overall efficacy, such as azelaic acid, retinoic acid, herbal extracts, etc. These ingredients, especially the herbal extracts, are known to be allergenic to many people. It is advisable to try several different minoxidil-based lotions, for instance, those that do not contain propylene glycol, in order to test their tolerability for your scalp. A more expensive product, e.g. the original formulation - Rogaine for Men - is not necessarily a better option than a less expensive generic mixture. However, Rogaine foam, though more expensive, is usually very well tolerated. Anti-dandruff shampoos, e.g. Nizoral, can, in the majority of patients, be employed successfully to treat scalp inflammations, itchiness and dandruff caused by the use of minoxidil-based topicals and many believe that they can stimulate hair growth as well.

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