minoxidil topical

Medically Reviewed on 5/14/2022

Generic Name: minoxidil topical

Brand Names: Rogaine, Women's Rogaine

Drug Class: Topical skin products

What is minoxidil topical, and what is it used for?

Minoxidil topical is an over-the-counter medication locally applied on the scalp to treat male or female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia). Oral minoxidil is a potent blood vessel dilating medication, initially developed to treat severe refractory high blood pressure (hypertension). Topical minoxidil was subsequently formulated when excessive hair growth (hypertrichosis) was observed in about one-fifth of the patients taking oral minoxidil.

Hair has two parts, the hair shaft that is visible outside the skin, and the hair follicle, the root of the hair which attaches the shaft to the skin. Hair follicle has a bulb at the base within which the hair cells grow, nourished by blood vessels. Hair growth cycle goes through three phases:

  • Anagen: The active growth phase when cells in the hair bulb rapidly multiply and new hair forms and pushes the old hair (known as club hair) out of the follicle. Scalp hair stays in the active phase for two to six years.
  • Catagen: Catagen is a transitional phase lasting for about two to three weeks, when hair growth slows and the hair follicle shrinks.
  • Telogen: Telogen is the quiescent phase when the hair follicle is completely at rest, lasting for about 100 days for scalp hair and longer for body hair, and club hair forms.

Minoxidil stimulates hair growth in several ways:

  • Shortens the telogen phase stimulating the hair follicle to enter into anagen phase
  • Extends the duration of the anagen phase
  • Increases the length and thickness of the hair

Minoxidil’s effects on hair growth appear to come from the dilation of blood vessels around the hair follicles which improves blood flow and nutrition to the hair. It takes approximately 2 months for minoxidil topical to start taking effect and 4 months for maximal effect.

Minoxidil topical use has to continue indefinitely to increase and retain the hair regrowth, hair loss will begin again with discontinuation.


  • Do not use if you are hypersensitive to minoxidil or any of its components
  • Use with caution in patients with heart disease
  • Do not use minoxidil topical in the following circumstances:
    • Degree of hair loss is different from that on the carton label; product may not work for you
    • Hair loss is sudden and/or patchy
    • There is no family history of hair loss
    • Hair loss is associated with childbirth (in the case of pregnant women)
    • Reason for hair loss is not known
    • Individuals under 18 years of age
    • Red, infected, inflamed, painful or irritated scalp
    • While using any other medication on scalp
  • Hair color and texture may change with minoxidil use
  • The extent of hair regrowth may vary with individuals; minoxidil topical may not work for everyone
  • Discontinue minoxidil topical and seek medical help if:
    • You develop chest pain, rapid heartbeat, faint feeling, or dizziness
    • There is sudden, unexplained weight gain
    • Your hands or feet swell
    • You develop scalp irritation or redness
    • You get unwanted facial hair growth
    • You do not see any hair regrowth in 4 months


Your Hair and Scalp Can Say a Lot About Your Health See Slideshow

What are the side effects of minoxidil topical?

Common side effects of minoxidil topical include:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug.

Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the dosages of minoxidil topical?

Topical Solution

  • 2%
  • 5%

Topical Foam

  • 5%


Androgenetic Alopecia

  • Male: Apply 1 mL of 2% or 5% solution to affected areas of the scalp every 12 hours (every morning and evening); no more than 2 mL in 24 hours
  • Female: Apply 1 mL of 2% solution or 5% foam to affected areas of the scalp every 12 hours (every morning and evening)
  • Hair growth may require 4 months of therapy


  • Safety and efficacy not established in pediatric patients.

What drugs interact with minoxidil topical?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Minoxidil Topical has no listed severe, serious, moderate, or mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Topical minoxidil is absorbed through the skin and may have systemic effects and may cause fetal harm.
  • There are no well-controlled studies on topical minoxidil use in pregnant women. Avoid use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What else should I know about minoxidil topical?

  • Minoxidil topical is only for use on scalp, do not use on other parts of the body
  • Use as per directions; using more quantity or more often has no benefit
  • Avoid contact with scalp after applying minoxidil; can easily get removed
  • Avoid contact with eyes; in case of accidental contact, rinse well with cool clean water
  • Minoxidil topical should not be orally ingested; in case of accidental ingestion, seek medical help or contact Poison Control immediately
  • Keep safely out of reach of children


Minoxidil topical is an over-the-counter medication locally applied on the scalp to treat male or female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia). Use with caution in patients with heart disease. Common side effects of minoxidil topical include excessive hair growth (hypertrichosis), exacerbation of hair loss, redness (erythema) at the application site, local erythema, burning, irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, eczema, swelling (edema), tendon inflammation (tendinitis), back pain, fractures, systemic effect of low blood pressure (hypotension), dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling faint, anxiety, sinus inflammation (sinusitis), and respiratory infections. Avoid use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Prevention & Wellness

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Medically Reviewed on 5/14/2022