Male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss. This type of hair loss typically manifests in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples as a receding hairline. Over time, the hairline recedes to form the classic “M” shape. Hair will then usually thin at the crown (top of the head), often progressing to partial or complete baldness. The hair loss advances at different speeds for different people. There is no cure for male pattern baldness, but its progression can be slowed in some men using an over-the-counter drug called Minoxidil.
Minoxidil was actually first used as a drug to treat high blood pressure that had advanced to extreme levels. Unfortunately for some patients taking this oral drug, particularly female, it has a high tendency to cause hypertrichosis, or excessive hair growth, informally called “werewolf” syndrome. Recognizing that this effect would be welcomed for patients suffering from hair loss, drug manufacturers developed a topical formulation so that the hair growth could be obtained where it is applied.
Better Results: Strength vs. Amount
There are two strengths of minoxidil: 2% and 5%. The 2% is found in original minoxidil and the 5% is found in extra strength minoxidil. The potency of minoxidil 5% has been shown to be more effective in treating male pattern baldness. In one clinical study, 5% minoxidil was significantly superior to 2% minoxidil after 48 weeks of therapy in terms of change of hair count. The data indicated that the response to treatment occurred earlier with 5% compared to 2%.
On the label, it states: “Hair regrowth has not been shown to last longer than 48 weeks in large clinical trials with continuous treatment with 5% minoxidil topical solution for men.” It is important to know that the treatment must be continued indefinitely to maintain results, as any hair gains will be lost if the patient discontinues the drug. The directions state to use 1 mL dropper on the scalp two times per day directly on the scalp where the hair loss is occurring.
The label also states, “Using more or more often will not improve results.” With this said, we are left to assume that minoxidil only provides better results by using a higher strength of the solution (5% opposed to 2%) and that by applying more than directed of either 2% or 5% will not increase results.
Minoxidil Works On Certain Parts of the Scalp?
On minoxidil labels, it states that it will regrow hair on the top of the scalp (vertex only) and says to see pictures on the side of the product carton. When reviewing the pictures, it clearly shows the crown area only. Many labels continue to state that minoxidil is not intended for frontal baldness or a receding hairline. On some labels it actually states, “do not use if your amount of hair loss is different than that shown on the side of this carton or your hair loss is on the front of the scalp. Minoxidil topical solution is not intended for frontal baldness or receding hairline”.
Considering the label also is clear to keep your hands washed and not apply to other parts of the body, it is clear minoxidil can grow hair on other parts of the body besides just the vertex of the head. This makes the label confusing for many consumers. There are other countless testimonials that state the topical solution of minoxidil indeed helped grow hair on the front of the scalp and aided with receding hairlines.
In conclusion, minoxidil 5% works better than minoxidil 2%, yet neither work better by using a higher amount or by using it more often than directed on the label. Minoxidil also can be used to treat the entire head for hair growth and not just the vertex area.