When people experience hair loss, there are lots of things that they can try to stimulate regrowth. If you're considering trying Minoxidil for hair loss, you may find the following information helpful.
What Is Minoxidil?
You may be wondering what is minoxidil. Minoxidil is a vasodilator medication that has been shown to stimulate hair loss . Vasodilators expand blood vessels, which allows blood to flow more easily through them . This has been shown to stimulate hair growth — especially when people are experiencing balding or alopecia.
Minoxidil was originally used to treat high blood pressure in patients. However, doctors accidentally discovered that a side effect of administering the medication was that it caused lighter-colored or finer body hairs to turn dark in the people who took this medicine. This clued scientists into the fact that it may stimulate hair growth or promote hair health — and they started to use it as a drug that combats hair loss .
Does Minoxidil Work for Hair Loss?
Experts aren't quite sure how, exactly, Minoxidil stimulates hair growth. However, they speculate that it helps cause the hyperpolarization of cell membranes and in turn widens blood vessels and potassium channels, allowing both more blood and nutrients to get to a hair follicle. Experts believe that it can both cause hairs to turn darker — or for follicles to shed, being replaced with new, healthier follicles .
How to Use Topical Minoxidil?
Minoxidil typically comes in a foam form, and people use either Minoxidil 2 % or Minoxdil 5 % Minoxidil. While Minoxidil 5 % may have more side effects, it tends to work faster than Minoxidil 2 %. To use it, you start by applying it to the scalp. First, you need to clean and dry your scalp. Then, you can apply the product to damp hair by using an included applicator or spray bottle. Use your hands to rub it in, then allow it to dry completely. If you use the foam form of Minoxidil, massage the foam into your scalp, then allow it to dry completely before you put any other styling products in it, or before you lay your head on a pillow to go to sleep. 
Recommended Dosage for Hair Loss
If you're losing your hair or experience alopecia, you may want to try Minoxidil. In order to get Minoxidil, consult with your doctor and ensure the medication is right for you. If your doctor prescribes you Minoxidil, make sure you follow his or her dosage instructions carefully. You should also follow application instructions carefully.
Is Minoxidil Safe for Women?
Minoxidil is not only a hair loss medication for men. In fact, it can be used safely for women who are balding. In fact, according to the American Hair Loss Association, the medication actually seems to be more effective in women than in men — making it a great option for treating hair loss. In studies, 19 percent of women using the medicine reported moderate hair growth after Minoxidil usage, while 33 percent had a minimal amount of regrowth .
Possible Minoxidil Side Effects
While Minoxidil for women can spur hair growth, you should also be careful to watch for some of the common side effects. Minoxidil side effects include skin irritation and hypertrichosis — excessive hair growth, but in spots (like on the cheeks or forehead). If you want to avoid the negative side effects of minoxidil, try starting with a low dosage, or lowering the dosage you currently take. 
Minoxidil is a medication for hair growth that has been proven effective in both men and women. Due to its relative effectiveness and low number of side effects, it's a great option to try if you've experienced hair thinning or loss.
Dr. Bryan Do, D.O. is an osteopathic physician whose research interests include gastroenterology, immunology, and dermatology. He is particularly interested in the role of probiotics in the gut-brain-skin axis and has written many articles on the topic.
He graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) before graduating from Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana and becoming a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
Osteopathic physicians are taught to take a holistic approach to medicine and to consider mind, body, and spirit when treating a patient. Osteopathic physicians receive training in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) in addition to the standard rigorous medical school curriculum. Both physicians with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree as well as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) can practice medicine.