By Paul Taylor
Who’s more likely to suffer Rogaine side effects, men or women? And what are all these side effects anyway?
answers should help you decide whether or not to try this drug or opt for
an alternative approach which might be safer.
Most men and women with hair loss know that Rogaine (Regaine in the UK) is a brand name for minoxidil, a drug approved by the FDA to treat this condition after trials showed it can stimulate hair regrowth. But although minoxidil has been scientifically proven to regrow hair, it’s also been scientifically proven to cause side effects.
Here are all the potential side effects listed in increasing order of severity, mild, moderate and severe:
Whilst such an increase in hair growth might initially sound like a
benefit, you wouldn’t be too impressed if the tiny vellus hairs on your
nose or forehead started to sprout out thicker, longer and darker. And, for women especially, terminal hair growth on the face or body would be extremely undesirable.
* It sounds bizarre, and it is. Rogaine can make your hair loss worse. Initially at the very least. Minoxidil is used for treating hair loss, but can shift more hair follicles into the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, so you might start shedding even more hair (1).
It's very easy to dismiss the more serious Rogaine side effects simply because they only develop very rarely in just a few people. But some of these problems are entirely possible, especially if you discover you have an
allergy to minoxidil or one of the other ingredients (which include
alcohol and propylene glycol (1)).
Some side effects of Rogaine are more common than others of course. A dry, flaky,
itchy scalp being the most likely, and an allergic reaction (which then causes some of the more serious side effects) the least. But obviously it goes without saying that you would need to contact a doctor
urgently if you experience any symptom you consider serious.
Rogaine is available in two concentrations - a regular 2% strength liquid product is suitable for women, and an "Extra Strength" 5% liquid product is suitable for men only (women could start growing facial hair if they use it). Rogaine can also be applied as a 5% strength foam. Initially, this was for men only, but a 5% foam product for women is now available as well.
So it seems likely that men who use the liquid product might be more likely to suffer side effects simply because their (5%) liquid product is much stronger than the liquid product for women (2%).
As for the foam product, it might be easier (for both men and women) to overdose from the recommended amount - "half a cap" of foam twice a day sounds a bit vague to me, especially when compared to the liquid which comes with a dropper to accurately measure two 1 ml doses per day.
But if minoxidil does start changing the tiny vellus hair on the face and body into mature terminal hair, this side effect would probably be more of an issue for women than it is for men. Clearly then, you would need to be very careful not to get minoxidil on your skin (including your nose, forehead, face, etc) and wash your hands thoroughly every time you use it.
Note: Another reason why you need to wash your hands thoroughly is because the high alcohol content also makes Rogaine products highly flammable.
of the side effects you could experience depend on how quickly the drug
gets absorbed by your body - something which can vary from person to person. So that would explain why some people might be adversely affected simply from using the
recommended daily dose. And it would explain why Rogaine might help some people to grow hair but not many others.
To sum up:
There are many types of hair loss. Minoxidil treatment is intended for hair loss caused by androgenetic alopecia.
Although "Men's Rogaine" and "Women's Rogaine" (formerly "Rogaine for Men" and "Rogaine for Women") are the most well known brand names, Rogaine isn't the only product that delivers minoxidil to your scalp. Generic versions of minoxidil are also available.
Final page: Generic Rogaine.
(1) Minoxidil may increase hair loss; there can be an allergic reaction to propylene glycol: Minoxidil use in dermatology, side effects and recent patents. Rossi A1, Cantisani C, Melis L, Iorio A, Scali E, Calvieri S. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2012 May;6(2):130-6. Source: PubMed
Sources of Rogaine side effects include:
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