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Minoxidil Side Effects and How to Cope with them
Any drug may cause side effects, and Minoxidil is included. Sure, it is sold over the counter, but still some may suffer from its side effects. Basically you may suffer from side effects caused by almost everything, from food to the what’s carried in the air. It may be shown as allergy or simply as side effects that impact the body. Don’t push yourself too much and don’t act irrationally, if you have side effects of any kind it is better to stop immediately and think how to cope and resolve. If side effects continue despite of your efforts to resolve don’t fight it, go see a doctor to ensure that these side effects are not actually a warning sign of a physiological problem you are not aware of. Consult with your doctor. If Minoxidil is not for you there is still a lot you can do about your hair loss, there are many products and treatments, non-drug, which are unlikely to cause any side effect.
Personally speaking, I’m a veteran when it comes to Minoxidil. I started to use the 2% solution back in the 90s, then moved to the 5% solution, then to the 5% foam and now I’m using the 15% combo that also contains Azelaic acid 5%.
Minoxidil side effects vary, some have none, some have minor, and in rare cases side effects are not only external. I divide d these into 2 groups:
1. Local/External side effects – these are only shown on the scalp and skin. I include here excessive face hair growth, which may scare women. Minoxidil may cause growth of hair not only on the head but also in the head’s area, including the face. Still the 2% version is considered safe even in that aspect. The most common external side effect is redness, irritation and dandruff. What most people don’t know is that these side effects are simply because of sensitivity to Propylene Glycol which is used in most of the solutions. The solution is very simple – buy only PG free products such as Minoxidil foam 5%, or PG free solution. A natural shampoo, SLS free, can also help a lot. I suffered from dry, itchy scalp for years, till I found out that things can be different, and from the day I began PG free Minoxidil I have no scalp issues.
2. Internal side effects – those that makes you worried that Minoxidil is not safe, because you sense it not locally, but internally. That includes sickness feeling (headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, chest pain, change in hear rate or in blood pressure, fatigue or swelling of hands or feet). If you suffer from any of these – watch out, Minoxidil may not be for you. Still, there may be something wrong, usually with the dosage, or the way you use it, and in any case don’t worry too much, side effects are shown only when used, and disappear once you stop using.
Usually internal side effects do not occur, they are considered to be rare if you use the FDA approved product – 2% for women and 5% for men. However, many women find the 5% more effective, and men find the 10%-15% more effective. The 5% is FDA approved, but anything over 5% is not. Still we all know the Xandrox/Minoxidilmax types which offers a potent anti-hair loss Minoxidil based products, and even I started to use these (the Minoxidilmax 15%).
I decided to give the 15% a chance after noticing that the 5% hardly works. How did I know? because I use it for 15 years, and my vertex shows thinning despite of using it. Sure I use other products as well, but if I lose hair instead of at least keeping it, then the Minoxidil 5% which is clinically proved as effective is not so effective for me anymore.
Now, the thing is that at the beginning I used 1ml, as one is supposed to, once daily. I got the sickness side effects – got tired, unfocused, felt pressure in the eyes area, and basically felt dizzy. It made me scared. I tried again – and again I got side effects. Then I stopped for few more days to think, still using the 5% at least once a day. My conclusion was that (a) I may be sensitive, in general. (b) I may be sensitive to Minoxidil over 5% (c) I’m doing something wrong.
If I’m sensitive to high level of Minoxidil (got along with 5% just fine), then the problem is the quantity. I reduced it to 0.5 ml, and also made sure I don’t apply too much on the same specific scalp area, but one drop at a time. One drop covers approximately 2 square inches, and since my thinning areas are temples, frontal and vertex, then few drops in each area are enough.
It worked. I never had these side effects anymore. Reducing the quantity means that you apply less active ingredient. Applying less on a wider surface ensures that the body part that gets (and benefits) the Minoxidil are the follicles, and that the Minoxidil is absorbed in the skin level that is closer to the surface rather to deeper tissue.
I use 0.5 ml once or twice per day, in front of a mirror, applying accurately, drops one by one on selected areas. It works much better then Minoxidil 5%, and I can see the results. The hair grows faster and thicker.
Should you follow my steps? not at all, you should use what works for you and according to your preferences. You may not suffer from any side effects, and basically you can’t really know before trying. If 5% works for you don’t just jump to 15%. If 5% doesn’t work you may try the 10% first. You don’t have to go extreme immediately.
This article was posted on November 21st, 2011 in Baldness Basics
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