Minoxidil is used to stimulate hair growth and to slow balding. It is most effective for people under 40 years of age whose hair loss is recent. Minoxidil has no effect on receding hairlines. It does not cure baldness; most new hair is lost within a few months after the drug is stopped.
Minoxidil comes as a liquid to be applied to your scalp. Minoxidil usually is used twice a day.
Follow the directions on your package or prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use minoxidil exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than directed by your doctor.
Exceeding the recommended dosage does not produce greater or faster hair growth and may cause increased side effects. You must use minoxidil for at least 4 months, and possibly for up to 1 year, before you see any effect.
Three special applicators are provided: a metered-spray applicator for large scalp areas, an extender spray applicator (used with the metered-spray applicator) for small areas or under the hair, and a rub-on applicator.
Remove the outer and inner caps from the bottle, choose an applicator, and screw it tightly onto the bottle.
To use the extender spray applicator, first assemble the metered-spray applicator and then follow the instructions provided to attach the extender spray applicator. Pump the metered-spray or extender spray applicator six times for each dose. Try not to inhale the mist. Place the large cap on the metered-spray bottle or the small cap on the extender spray nozzle when not in use.
To use the rub-on applicator, hold the bottle upright and squeeze it until the upper chamber of the applicator is filled to the black line. Then turn the bottle upside down and rub on the medication. Place the large cap on the bottle when not in use. If you use your fingertips to apply the medication, wash them thoroughly afterwards.
Apply minoxidil to dry hair and scalp only. Do not apply it to other body areas, and keep it away from your eyes and sensitive skin. If it accidentally comes in contact with these areas, wash them with lots of cool water; call your doctor if they become irritated.
Do not apply minoxidil to a sunburned or irritated scalp.
Before using minoxidil,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to minoxidil or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially guanethidine (Ismelin), other medications for high blood pressure, and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had heart, kidney, liver, or scalp disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using minoxidil, call your doctor.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Minoxidil may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
Skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Minoxidil may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- scalp itching, dryness, scaling, flaking, irritation, or burning
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- weight gain
- swelling of the face, ankles, hands, or stomach
- difficulty breathing (especially when lying down)
- rapid heartbeat
- chest pain
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at Web Site] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
Keep all appointments with your doctor. Minoxidil is for external use only. Do not let minoxidil get into your eyes, nose, or mouth, and do not swallow it. Do not apply dressings, bandages, cosmetics, lotions, or other skin medications to the area being treated unless your doctor tells you.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.