Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a prescription medication used to treat male pattern baldness or alopecia areata. Minoxidil is a derivative of Vitamin B6 and works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which converts melanin into dark brown pigment called keratin. Keratin is one of the main components of your hair follicles, so when it’s not there, your scalp becomes dry and brittle. Minoxidil is a long-acting drug, meaning it takes effect within 2 weeks of taking it. You may need to take it every other day for several months before seeing results.
The side effects from minoxidil include:
Headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of minoxidil because they cause fluid retention in the stomach and intestines. If you have any type of stomach disorder, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, you may experience diarrhea after taking minoxidil.
Dizziness and headache are two of the most common side effects of minoxidil. Dizziness causes you to lose balance and fall down stairs while headaches can lead to severe migraines. These symptoms usually go away within a few days if the side effect doesn’t last too long.
If you are suffering from any of the above-mentioned side effects of minoxidil, consult a physician immediately.
Fluid retention and swelling can be a serious medical condition, which may lead to weight gain, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. If you experience any of the above-mentioned side effects of minoxidil, consult a physician immediately.
Numbness and Tingling
If you experience any numbness in the hands or feet, or general loss of sensation, seek immediate medical attention.
The loss of sensation in the hands or feet may be a sign of a serious condition called peripheral neuropathy. The peripheral nervous system controls all sensations received by your body, such as touch, pain and temperature. In some cases peripheral neuropathy may be irreversible.
It is important to monitor your feet closely if you have a history of peripheral neuropathy or any other type of nerve disease, because the loss of sensation may cause serious injuries to your feet.
High Blood Pressure and Rapid Heartbeat
If you experience an irregular heartbeat or any other symptoms of high blood pressure, consult a physician immediately.
Minoxidil can increase blood pressure and the risk of developing heart disease. If you have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure, consult your physician before using minoxidil.
Minoxidil may cause cataracts and other eye problems. If you experience eye pain, excessive tearing, blurred vision or any other eye problems while taking this medication, seek immediate medical attention.
The most common side effect of minoxidil is continued hair growth. Your hair may continue to grow after you stop using this medication, but it will subside over time. If the unwanted effects are too much, consult a physician immediately.
If you have diabetes, you should not take minoxidil. In some cases, minoxidil can cause abnormally low blood sugar in people with diabetes. If you are diabetic and have been taking minoxidil, seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:
If you are diabetic and experience any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Interactions With Other Medications
Before taking minoxidil, inform your physician of any other medications or banned substances you are taking.
To avoid unwanted interactions, do not start, stop or change the dosage of any other medications unless your physician tells you to do so.
Keep minoxidil tablets in a cool and dry place where it is inaccessible to children.
Do not keep outdated minoxidil tablets, as it can cause serious and life-threatening side effects. If you have expired minoxidil tablets, dispose of them immediately by taking them to your local pharmacy.
Sources & references used in this article:
Female pattern hair loss: a pilot study investigating combination therapy with low‐dose oral minoxidil and spironolactone by RD Sinclair – International Journal of Dermatology, 2018 – Wiley Online Library
The pharmacokinetics of 2.5‐to 10‐mg oral doses of minoxidil in healthy volunteers by JC Fleishaker, NA Andreadis… – The Journal of …, 1989 – Wiley Online Library
Minoxidil: update on its clinical role by RC Savin, AV Atton – Dermatologic clinics, 1993 – derm.theclinics.com
Case series of oral minoxidil for androgenetic and traction alopecia: Tolerability & the five C’s of oral therapy by RA Beach – Dermatologic therapy, 2018 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov