Rogaine review side effects

How A Doctor’s Chance Appointment With A Hairy Woman Led To The Discovery of Rogaine

Guinter Kahn, who died last week at the age of 80, is not a household name. But his invention Rogaine sure is.

For decades, the brand has been synonymous with the restoration of virility and youth, or rather, the hope for said restoration on the part of men past their prime. Kahn was the embattled scientist who deserves most of the credit for fulfilling — however imperfectly — their follicle-related dreams.

It was Kahn who discovered that minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine (and originally intended to treat hypertension), could be effective in restoring lost hair. And how he discovered it is a story onto itself.

The tale of how Kahn discovered minoxidil’s effectiveness as a hair loss treatment is arguably one of the great scientific accidents of our time.

Balding man. Could use some Rogaine. Flickr/Saw You On The Flipside The full story is told an article by John Dorschner in the Miami Herald, published in October 1988, entitled “The Minoxidillionaire” (emphasis mine):

The real discovery, explained, had come a decade before, in 1971. At the time, he was the acting head of the dermatology department at the University of Colorado medical school. One day, a first-year resident, Paul Grant, approached him and asked him to look at an odd case he had just seen in the hospital.

Kahn went. The patient was a woman in her mid-40s. She was growing hair all over her face, especially on the temples. She suffered from hypertension so severe that she had had two strokes because of it. Since she didn’t respond to ordinary medications, she had been placed in an experimental program. She was being given minoxidil, a potent new drug that Upjohn was testing, hoping to get FDA approval.

The drug had dramatically lowered her blood pressure, but there was this strange side effect. It was first noticed by Dr. Charles Chidsey, the university’s chief of clinical pharmacology, whom Upjohn had hired to administer the minoxidil experiments. Chidsey had called in the dermatologists as consultants.

Kahn and Grant listened carefully to the woman’s story. Before minoxidil, she said, she had never had to shave her legs. Since taking the drug, she had to shave frequently. Before, she had gone to her beautician to have her hair cut every three or four months. Now, she was having to go every three or four weeks.

Kahn was excited. He realized instantly what the implications were. “Right off the bat,” says Grant, “he said, ‘Boy, this would be great stuff if we could apply it to the top of heads.'”

Guinter Kahn. The man. The minoxidil legend. University of Nebraska at Omaha Alumni Association

The story goes on to recount how Kahn and Grant went on to test the hair-raising effects of minoxidil:

From one of Chidsey’s assistants they obtained some minoxidil powder, without saying that they planned to use it on human subjects. They mixed the powder with several alcohol-based solutions and with a mixture of ethyl alcohol and propylene glycol. To be on the safe side, they decided that the minoxidil should not exceed 1 percent of the solution.

After two months without seeing any results, Kahn was ready to call it quits:

But it was about then that Grant went to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs to put in his two weeks of active duty for the Army Reserves. He had been applying the solution daily, but without paying much attention to it. “I really didn’t have that much hope for it. For years, people have been looking for some lotion that could grow hair, and no one had ever found anything.” Then one morning in the barracks, Grant took time to closely inspect the skin under the bandage: matted against the skin, squashed by the tape, were unmistakable new hairs — dark, thick hairs.

When he returned to the university, Kahn recalls, Grant approached him in the conference room just before a meeting was to begin.

“I have something to show you,” said Grant, with the controlled excitement of a resident talking deferentially to his superior. He pulled back the bandage. There was a one-inch square of thick, dark hair.”

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Kahn recalls.

He stared.For the first time, the stuff of snake oil patches had been proven; that an ointment could grow hair.

They had made history.

Interestingly, they found that the other resident and the secretary were also growing hair; the only person who wasn’t was Kahn himself. In a twist too neat for fiction, he turned out to be allergic to his own discovery, according to his New York Times obituary.

The saga gets longer and stranger. When Kahn and grant informed Upjohn of minoxidil’s power to restore hair, in 1971, Upjohn quietly filed a patent for using minoxidil for that purpose — and reported Kahn and Grant to the FDA for conducting unauthorized experiments on humans. Upjohn then proceeded to sit on the patent for years.

Then, in 1979, nearly a decade after Kahn and Grant made their discovery, FDA approved minoxidil as a hypertension medication, and the US Patent Office granted Upjohn the patent to use it as a hair remedy.

After years of legal wrangling, Upjohn made a deal with Kahn, issuing a joint patent entitled “Methods and Solutions for Treating Male Pattern Alopecia.” Grant was not deemed important enough to the discovery to be named in the patent, though he did receieve a share in the royalties.

Kahn’s struggles didn’t end there. Though he had won credit and a share in the profits, he was frequently denied credit for his discovery, a fact that “gnawed at him.” Dorschner writes:

What Kahn hopes is that long after he and the money are gone, the history books will recognize what he did.

Ultimately, Kahn got what he wanted: fortune and some small measure of fame. We should all be so fortunate. Kahn and Grant never disclosed their precise agreement with Upjohn. But in 2006, Johnson & Johnson purchased the unit that produces Rogaine and a few other consumer health products (by then a division of Pfizer) for $16.6 billion.

Just don’t call it luck.

Kahn bristles at the mere mention of luck:

“You bet we were lucky. We were lucky that we chose the appropriate solution to put the minoxidil in. We were lucky that we chose the correct percentage of minoxidil to put in the solution. Too much and we may have had negative side effects. Too little and we may have had no result. We were lucky that we didn’t stop after four weeks. We were lucky that we had Paul Grant’s hirsute right arm, where the hair grew dark and abundant.

“Luck is a part of science. No one talks about the 200 experiments I did with various things that did not work. So there was luck that one worked. Why didn’t anyone want to give us credit for that?”

Rogaine, the only product that the Food and Drug Administration says can actually regrow hair on balding heads, is now available in drug stores and supermarkets for anyone who wants it.

A prescription drug available to men since 1988 and to women since 1991, Rogaine went on sale over-the-counter in April. Its manufacturer, Pharmacia & Upjohn, has cut the suggested retail price in half — a month’s supply is $30 instead of $60 — great news for those using the stuff successfully.

But Rogaine’s lower price and easy availability is potentially bad news too. It raises the likelihood that many consumers will be lured into wasting their money because most people who use it do not experience much, if any, hair regrowth.

“What the regrowth people get is usually not cosmetically noticeable,” said Orlando dermatologist John Meisenheimer, one of several in central Florida who said Rogaine is much better at preserving hair than restoring it. The dermatologists stressed the importance of having realistic expectations. A few questions about Rogaine are in order.

Q: Is there any way to know if Rogaine will work?

A: Not without trying it. You’ll have to invest a minimum of $120 — and at least four months of using it twice a day — before seeing any results. The odds for regrowth are poor. Only about one in four men and one in five women experience significant regrowth. But dermatologists report high success in curbing hair loss.

Q: For whom will Rogaine work?

A: It works only on those with androgenetic alopecia, also known as hereditary hair loss or male pattern baldness. It’s by far the most common reason for hair loss, affecting about 40 million American men and about 20 million women. Rogaine doesn’t work for other kinds of hair loss, such as those associated with lupus, syphilis, menopause, pregnancy, chemotherapy and so on.

Q: Where does Rogaine work better?

A: The clinical studies on Rogaine have looked only at its effect of hair regrowth on the crown — or top — of the head. That’s where it is most likely to work. It’s less likely to work on the front part of the scalp.

Q: Is it more effective for young adults?

A: The earlier you start, the better its success rate. But it has worked with older adults. Cleo Neal, 63, of Orlando, a licensed practical nurse, said: “After eight or nine months, I saw my hair starting to regrow. It came in finer than it was before, but I don’t have to wear a wig anymore.”

Q: Is over-the-counter Rogaine any different than prescription Rogaine?

A: There’s no difference in what’s in the bottle, a 2 percent concentration of the active ingredient, minoxidil. But the packaging has changed. Rogaine for Men and Rogaine for Women are identical in contents, but the instructions for use and the statistics about its effectiveness differ.

Q: It won’t work as well for women?

A: That’s what clinical studies have shown, but that may not be the case in practice. Orlando dermatologist Randall Coverman said women are more likely to stick with Rogaine’s twice-a-day routine.

Q: If it works, how long do I use it?

A: For as long as you want to keep the hair that’s there because of it. If and when you stop using it, that hair will fall out.

Q: At $30 a bottle, that’s $360 a year for life. Isn’t that a lot of money?

A: Quality, custommade replacement systems — a k a hair weaves, wigs, etc. — cost between $1,000 and $3,000 and have to be replaced every year or two. Transplants are $3,000 to $20,000, depending on the surgical work. So a $10,000 hair transplant would be less expensive than a hair-replacement system but more than Rogaine.

Q: Is Rogaine a pain to use?

A: No, regular users say. You apply a few drops where it’s needed and rub it in. It takes a few seconds and dries quickly.

Q: Are there any weird side effects or potential dangers to worry about?

A: If you follow directions, it is a very safe drug, say central Florida dermatologists. Its active ingredient, minoxidil, originally was dispensed in pill form to reduce high blood pressure. Many users reported hair growth as a side effect, so Upjohn developed Rogaine as a topical version aimed at balding consumers. About 4 million people have used it worldwide, the manufacturer says. The most common side effect, experienced by less than one in 10 users, is an itchy scalp. In rare cases, Rogaine can cause chest pains, a rapid heartbeat or dizziness. If this happens to you, stop using it and see a doctor.

Q: Don’t those who use Rogaine for months and find it doesn’t work feel bitter about it?

A: Usually yes. An Orlando man, who is in his mid-30s and works in the entertainment industry, is convinced Rogaine is a big scam. “When Rogaine came out, I was as excited about it as any human being. I was hoping and believing in it. (After a year) I did see very slight fuzz. It was so insignificant that you didn’t notice it past five feet. I was very disappointed.”

Q: Then perhaps too much is being made of its going over the counter?

A: Tell that to the people for whom Rogaine works. It has worked well enough for Orlando pro golfer Mark O’Meara that he has become an enthusiastic — and paid — endorser of the product. Michael Gutierrez, his dermatologist, believes its easy accessibility is a big plus: “Before, you had to go to a physician, pay for the visit, get the Rogaine and then go back to the doctor if it didn’t work. Now you can try it first before you have to see a physician.”

Q: But what about the big price drop since it went over the counter? Not to complain, but it smells fishy: Was Rogaine overpriced before, or is it underpriced now?

A: Pharmacia & Upjohn defends both prices. Company spokesmen say they can cut the price in half because they expect at least to double the volume of users. Last year, about $100 million worth of Rogaine was sold in the United States. The company expects to top that this year, despite — or perhaps because of — the price cut.

Minoxidil Side Effects: What Are They and Are They Common?

Medically reviewed by Ho Anh, MD Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 9/15/2017

Minoxidil is a topical medication that’s used to treat hair loss. Along with finasteride, it’s one of the most widely used and effective treatment options for increasing hair growth and dealing with the effects of male pattern baldness.

Like all medications, minoxidil has both primary effects and side effects. For most people, the side effects of minoxidil are relatively minor. However, it’s important that you’re aware of all of minoxidil’s potential effects before you begin treatment.

Below, we’ve listed all of the known side effects of minoxidil, as well as detailed information on how common side effects are from minoxidil use.

What Are The Side Effects of Minoxidil?

Because minoxidil is a widely used, thoroughly tested medication, its side effects are well known amongst doctors and researchers.

Depending on the formulation, the most common side effect of minoxidil is skin irritation at or near the application site. In some cases, minoxidil users can develop a skin rash or experience a mild burning feeling after using minoxidil spray or foam.

This can be a reaction to the minoxidil itself or a reaction to some of the substances commonly used in minoxidil formulas. Many minoxidil products contain propylene glycol, and alcohol, which can lead to skin rash and irritation when applied topically.

Other, less common side effects of minoxidil include:

  • Acne
  • Facial hair growth
  • Inflammation around the hair roots
  • Facial swelling
  • Increased hair loss

These side effects are relatively uncommon and do not affect most minoxidil users. Increased hair loss, one of the most publicized side effects of minoxidil, is often the result of hair follicles rapidly moving through the hair growth cycle and shedding before an anagen phase. This is normal as it is part of the mechanism in how minoxidil works.

There are also side effects of minoxidil that can occur from excessive use of the medication. In most cases, these side effects occur when too much minoxidil is applied at once, resulting in an overly high level of minoxidil being absorbed into the body. These side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Flushing
  • Blurred or altered vision
  • Numbness of the face, hands, and feet
  • Swelling of the face, hands, feet, and legs
  • Rapid weight gain

If you notice any of these side effects after taking minoxidil, the best course of action is to speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Are Minoxidil Side Effects Common?

Minoxidil is a safe, widely used medication, with numerous studies indicating that side effects are uncommon:

  • One 2013 study involving hundreds of people resulted in no side effects over almost three months of minoxidil use.
  • A longer 48 week study shows that topical minoxidil has no systemic effects, even at a higher-than-average 5% concentration.

Of the side effects of minoxidil, the most common is skin irritation in and around the area where the spray or foam is applied. This usually reverses and heals by stopping the minoxidil.

Millions of men around the world use minoxidil on a daily basis to prevent hair loss and improve hair growth. On the whole, side effects are rare and minoxidil is viewed as one of the safest hair loss treatments on the market today.

Minoxidil and Pets

One point about minoxidil that’s important to note is that it can potentially be highly toxic to cats, as they lack the enzymes required to metabolise and excrete minoxidil from the body.

According to the ASPCA, there were six cases between 2001 and 2014 of cats being negatively affected by exposure to minoxidil. Of these, four cats have died after exposure, while the others required aggressive treatment in order to survive.

If you have a pet cat, make sure you do not ever directly apply minoxidil to its skin or fur. Use the minoxidil spray or foam in an isolated area (such as a bathroom, with your cat in a separate room) and keep minoxidil products stored inside a safe area that’s out of reach of your pets.

SIDE EFFECTS: Burning, stinging, or redness at the application site may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly.If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.Rarely, this medication can be absorbed through the skin and cause side effects. Stop using this medication and tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: unwanted facial/body hair, dizziness, fast/irregular heartbeat, fainting, chest pain, swelling of hands/feet, unusual weight gain, tiredness, difficulty breathing especially when lying down.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

PRECAUTIONS: Before using minoxidil, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to any of its ingredients; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this product: diseases of the scalp (e.g., eczema, infection, cuts), heart problems (e.g., chest pain, heart attack, heart failure), kidney disease, liver disease.During pregnancy, this product should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: If you are using this product under your doctor’s direction, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or pharmacist first.Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you use any of the following products: drugs for high blood pressure (e.g., guanethidine), other skin products used on the scalp, drugs that interact with alcohol (e.g., disulfiram, metronidazole).Do not start or stop any medicine without doctor or pharmacist approval.This document does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.


It is normal to lose 100-150 hairs per day. See Answer

Rogaine Foam 5%

How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Minoxidil belongs to a group of medications known as hair regrowth treatments. It is used to treat male pattern baldness. It is not meant for baldness due to nonhereditary factors (e.g., baldness caused by illnesses such as iron deficiency or medications such as cancer chemotherapy). The foam formulation of minoxidil is also used to treat female pattern hair loss or thinning.

When applied to the scalp, it often stimulates hair growth. The exact way it works is not known, but it is thought to improve the blood flow around the hair follicle and stimulate the hair follicle to grow hair.

It usually takes 6 or more months of use for the medication to work. Hair may fall out when minoxidil is first used. This is a temporary effect of the medication. Once hair starts to grow, it will stay for as long as the medication is used. The hair will begin to fall out again a few months after the applications are stopped.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are using this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each gram of cream-coloured foam contains 50 mg of minoxidil. Nonmedicinal ingredients: butylhydroxytoluene (BHT), stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, alcohol SD 40B, lactic acid, citric acid anhydrous, glycerol anhydrous, polysorbate 60, propellant Aeropin 70 (propane, butane, isobutane), and purified water.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended dose is one-half capful of foam (equivalent to 1 gram) applied 2 times daily directly to the scalp (not the hair), starting in the center of the affected area. The maximum daily dose is one capful of foam (equivalent to 2 grams).

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

The foam should be gently massaged into the affected areas of the scalp. The foam may begin to melt on contact with warm skin. If your fingers are warm, rinse them in cold water and then thoroughly dry them before using the foam. Do not dry the foam with a hair dryer.

It is important that the foam stay in contact with the scalp for at least 4 hours after application. During this time, avoid activities such as swimming, showering, or physical activity that may cause excessive perspiration. You may use hair sprays, mousses, gels and other styling aids, however, you should apply the minoxidil foam first and allow it to dry before applying any other hair products. If you are planning on being in the sun, wear a hat or other head covering. Do not use sunscreen on the scalp.

If you are washing your hair before applying the medication, use a mild shampoo. To avoid eye irritation, wash your hands well after applying this medication to the scalp. Do not apply this medication to any area of the body other than the scalp.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, use it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication in an upright position, at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children. The container is extremely flammable and should not be exposed to open flames or heat. Do not place this medication on polished or painted surfaces or use it near them.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you:

  • are allergic to minoxidil or any ingredients of the solution
  • are bald due to non-hereditary factors (e.g., caused by illnesses such as iron deficiency, thyroid disorders, or medications such as cancer chemotherapy)
  • have hair loss associated with childbirth
  • have a skin condition on the scalp (e.g., psoriasis or sunburns)
  • are or may be pregnant or are nursing
  • are using other skin medications or dressings on the scalp (e.g., for psoriasis)
  • have shaved, broken, inflamed, irritated, infected, or severely sunburned skin on the scalp
  • have untreated high blood pressure
  • have recently discontinued certain medications such as birth control or cancer chemotherapy
  • have certain grooming habits (e.g., cornrowing, tight ponytails)

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people using this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • backache
  • changes in hair colour or texture
  • cold- or flu-like symptoms (e.g., runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat)
  • continuous itching or skin rash
  • dental problems
  • eye irritation
  • irritation, redness, dryness in the area where medication was applied
  • muscle strain or spasm

Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • acne where medication was applied
  • burning of the scalp
  • changes in blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • headache
  • inflammation or soreness at the hair root
  • persistent local rash
  • rapid heartbeat
  • rapid weight gain
  • sudden weight gain
  • swelling of the hands or feet
  • temporary hair loss
  • unwanted facial hair growth

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Effectiveness: Minoxidil topical solution may not work for everyone. This medication is for the scalp of someone who has male pattern baldness. It has not been shown to work for someone who has a receding hairline. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Eye irritation: Minoxidil will cause irritation and burning of the eyes and nasal passages. If the medication comes in contact with the eyes, flush the eyes well with cool water.

Hair treatments: It is not known if hair colouring, perming, or relaxing agents affect this medication. To avoid irritation to the scalp, make sure this medication has been washed off the hair and scalp before using these products. Do not reapply minoxidil for 24 hours after using a chemical treatment to make sure your scalp has not been irritated by the perm or colour treatment.

Heart disease: Although this medication is intended to be used as a topical (surface only) treatment for the scalp, it may be absorbed into the bloodstream and have an effect on heart disease. People with heart disease should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, stop taking it and contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using minoxidil, it may affect your baby. Women who are breast-feeding should not use minoxidil.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under 18 years of age.

Seniors: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for men over the age of 65 years.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between minoxidil topical solution and any of the following:

  • amifostine
  • anthralin
  • blood-pressure-lowering medications
  • other topical (applied to the skin) medications
  • rituximab
  • topical corticosteroids (e.g., betamethasone, hydrocortisone)
  • tretinoin

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:


Generic Name: minoxidil topical (mi NOX i dil)
Brand Names: Rogaine

Medically reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD Last updated on Mar 4, 2019.

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Dosage
  • Interactions
  • Pregnancy
  • More

What is Rogaine?

Rogaine (minoxidil) is used to help you regrow hair on your scalp. The exact way that minoxidil works is not known. It is possible that it dilates blood vessels in the scalp, which may improve hair follicle function and stimulate hair growth.

Rogaine will not cause permanent regrowth of scalp hair. You must continue using the product to keep the regrowth of your hair.

Important information

Do not use Rogaine if the skin on your scalp is damaged, irritated, or sunburned. This may allow more of the medication to be absorbed by your body, which could be dangerous.

Do not use Rogaine on any part of your body other than your scalp. Application to other body parts can be dangerous.

Do not use other topical products on your scalp during treatment with Rogaine, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

Before taking this medicine

Do not use Rogaine if the skin on your scalp is red, swollen, irritated, or infected. This may allow more of the medication to be absorbed by your body, which could be dangerous.

Check the medicine label carefully to make sure Rogaine will treat your specific type of hair loss.

Use only the Rogaine formula that is made for your gender. Women should not use minoxidil products that are made specifically for men.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use this medicine if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • heart disease.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Rogaine will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether minoxidil topical passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Rogaine without a doctor’s advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not use Rogaine on anyone under 18 years old without medical advice.

How should I use Rogaine?

Use Rogaine exactly as directed by your doctor or as directed in the package labeling. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Using more of this medicine than recommended will not speed up hair growth, and may cause dangerous side effects.

This medicine comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Dry your hair and scalp before applying Rogaine.

Apply the recommended amount to the affected areas of the scalp. Rogaine is usually applied twice daily, in the morning and at night.

Wash your hands after applying Rogaine.

Use Rogaine only on your scalp. Do not use on any other part of your body.

It may take up to 4 months or longer before you notice new hair growth. New hair may be soft, colorless, and barely visible. With further treatment, the hair should begin to have the same color and thickness as your existing hair.

Talk to your doctor if you do not see any hair growth after 4 months of treatment.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep the foam canister away from open flame or high heat, such as in a car on a hot day. The canister may explode if it gets too hot. Do not puncture or burn an empty canister.

Rogaine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Alopecia:

Apply 1 mL topically to the affected area(s) of the scalp twice a day. The dose should not exceed 2 mL per day.
Apply half a capful topically to the affected area(s) of the scalp twice a day.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of Rogaine is not expected to be dangerous. Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medication.

What should I avoid while using Rogaine?

Avoid getting this medicine in the eyes, nose, or mouth. If this occurs, rinse the area with water.

Avoid using other skin products on the areas you treat with Rogaine, unless your doctor tells you to.

Rogaine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Rogaine: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although the risk of serious side effects is low when Rogaine is applied to the skin, side effects can occur if the medicine is absorbed into your bloodstream.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe scalp irritation;

  • unwanted growth of facial hair;

  • chest pain, fast heartbeats;

  • swelling in your hands or feet, rapid weight gain;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • headache, dizziness, confusion; or

  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling).

Common Rogaine side effects may include:

  • changes in the color or texture of your hair.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Rogaine?

It is not likely that other drugs you take orally or inject will have an effect on topically applied minoxidil. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2020 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.01.

Medical Disclaimer

More about Rogaine (minoxidil topical)

  • Side Effects
  • During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
  • Dosage Information
  • Drug Interactions
  • Support Group
  • En Español
  • 27 Reviews
  • Drug class: miscellaneous topical agents
  • FDA Alerts (1)

Consumer resources

  • Rogaine (Minoxidil Topical Foam)
  • Rogaine (Minoxidil Topical Solution)
  • Rogaine Topical (Advanced Reading)

Professional resources

  • Minoxidil topical (AHFS Monograph)

Other Formulations

  • Women’s Rogaine Topical
  • Rogaine For Men Extra Strength Topical

Related treatment guides

  • Alopecia

Before taking minoxidil tablets

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking minoxidil it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have angina chest pain, or if you have recently had a heart attack.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  • If you have been told you have a tumour known as phaeochromocytoma.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Minoxidil is generally unsuitable for women; however, if it has been prescribed for you and you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you must make sure your doctor knows about this.

How to take minoxidil tablets

  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about minoxidil and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking the tablets.
  • Take minoxidil exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your doctor will tell you how many tablets to take each day, and your dose will also be printed on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said to you. It is usual to take minoxidil tablets either once or twice every day.
  • Try to take your doses at similar times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them regularly. There are three strengths of tablet available: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg. It is usual to take a low-strength tablet to begin with and for this to increase as you go on. Increasing your dose gradually allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that best helps your condition but also keeps unwanted side-effects to a minimum.
  • Swallow the tablet whole with a drink of water. You can take minoxidil either before or after a meal.
  • If you forget to take a dose at your usual time, take it as soon as you remember unless your next dose is due. If your next dose is due then take the dose which is due but leave out the forgotten one. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular blood pressure measurements and also some heart and blood tests from time to time.
  • Your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of unwanted side-effects of treatment, such as your fine body hair becoming darker and thicker. This may be noticed about a month or so after starting treatment with minoxidil. Because of this effect, minoxidil is generally unsuitable for women but if it has been prescribed for you and you could get pregnant, you should ask your doctor about what methods of contraception are suitable for you. This is because you should avoid becoming pregnant while you are on minoxidil.
  • Your doctor will advise you on what lifestyle changes you can make to help your condition. These may include losing weight if you are overweight, taking regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol, stopping smoking, and reducing the amount of salt in your meals and caffeine in your drinks. It is important that you follow any advice you are given.
  • If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking minoxidil. This is because some anaesthetics can affect your blood pressure.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take. This is because some medicines (particularly some anti-inflammatory painkillers) can interfere with minoxidil.
  • Treatment with minoxidil is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. You should continue to take the tablets regularly unless you are advised otherwise by your doctor.

Can minoxidil tablets cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the most common ones associated with minoxidil. You will find a full list in the manufacturer’s information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common minoxidil side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people) What can I do if I experience this?
Changes in your hair colour, thickness or texture If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor
A fast heartbeat and other heart problems If you are concerned about this, speak with your doctor
Common minoxidil side-effects
(these affect less than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Your body may retain more fluid than normal If you notice you are putting on weight or if your ankles or feet become swollen, let your doctor know

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

How to store minoxidil

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Important information about all medicines

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have had an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

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