Minoxidil Side Effects For Women

Minoxidil Side Effects For Women
September 28th, 2011

minoxidil side effects womenSide effects from Minoxidil For Women (the generic version of Rogaine) are common, but luckily most of the side effects of this hair regrowth treatment are mild. Ironically, one of the listed side effects of Minoxidil Topical Solution 2% is hair growth! Unfortunately another possible side effect is hair loss, so consider the pros and cons carefully before using topical minoxidil. It’s also best to talk with your doctor before beginning the treatment.

• Minoxidil for women
Minoxidil is for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (genetic, hereditery hair loss). The 2% version of minoxidil is the one that’s FDA approved for women to use, and it only comes in a liquid form (not a foam option). The makers of Rogaine/minoxidil say the 2% version is just as effective for women as the 5% men’s version, and it comes with less risk of side effects. However, a lot of doctors feel the 5% version works better and they suggest that for women. Other doctors say to start out with 2% and you can always switch to 5% later. It’s a tough choice because you want to see the maximum amount of hair growth, but you need to be cautious of possible side effects. You are supposed to apply minoxidil to your scalp twice a day. Results aren’t expected to be visible until after four months (or longer) of use! Your results should be the same, whether you use the name brand Rogaine, or the generic minoxidil. Pregnant or nursing women should not use Rogaine/minoxidil.

• Potential minoxidil side effects for women using the topical solution 2%
Minoxidil has a long list of possible side effects, although most people only experience one or two of the more mild and common ones. If you have any of the systemic side effects, it’s best to speak with your doctor immediately to discuss whether or not you should continue using minoxidil. There may be even more potential side effects than the ones I have listed below.

Common side effects in women include:
• Dry, flaky, itchy scalp (contact dermatitis)
• Unwanted facial hair growth 
• Increased hair loss (!)
• Burning, stinging, or redness of the scalp

Signs of systemic absorption (which is supposedly rare):
• Dizziness
• Fast or irregular heartbeat
• Fainting, lightheadedness
• Chest pain
• Water and sodium retention – swelling of hands, feet, or lower legs, or rapid weight gain
• Tiredness
• Difficulty breathing, especially while lying down
• Headache, flushing
• Neuritis – numbness or tingling of hands, feet, or face
• Sexual dysfunction – decrease in desire or sexual ability
• Visual disturbances – blurred vision, decreased visual acuity, other vision changes
• Serious allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention (this is rare, and it could be a reaction to minoxidil or propylene glycol) – rash, swelling of face, tongue, throat, severe dizziness, trouble breathing

The side effects I’ve personally experienced from minoxidil
As I’ve said before on hairlosshell.com, several years ago I used 2% Rogaine For Women for about eight months and at that time I didn’t experience any obvious side effects. I didn’t experience increased hair shedding, or other issues. After eight months I also didn’t notice any results. I gave up on Rogaine and luckily I also didn’t notice an increase in shedding a few months after stopping Rogaine. After you stop the treatment, all of the hair that you gained while on the medication will go right back down the drain. So if Rogaine is working for you, you’ll need to use it indefinitely. I may have had increased shedding, but at the time I had more hair, so it would have been less noticeable.

Last year I decided to go with 5% minoxidil and I chose a product called Spectral DNC, which contains 5% minoxidil in a liquid solution, plus a few extra ingredients (Aminexil, Retinol & Copper Peptides) that are supposed to make the minoxidil even more effective. My theory was “go big or go home” so I wanted to try the men’s strength of minoxidil to see if it would work better than the girly 2%. Spectral DNC also doesn’t contain alcohol, so it makes the dry, flaky scalp problem less likely. If you’ve been dealing with scalp issues from minoxidil, you may want to try Spectral DNC (assuming you want the 5% strength). Unfortunately I immediately got headaches from Spectral DNC, and it wasn’t until I stopped it two months later that the headaches went away. So while headaches are supposedly a rare side effect of the medication, I guess I was unlucky. I then bought the 5% generic minoxidil (the kind you can find at Target or Wal-mart) but I got headaches from that as well, so the culprit was definitely the 5% strength of minoxidil.

After that I went back to the 2% women’s minoxidil and I’ve been using that on the top of my head ever since. I no longer get headaches or any other obvious side effects. And for some reason I can still tolerate 5% minoxidil if I use it sparingly just on my temples and receding hairline. Weird. However, while I’ve been writing this article I’m slightly freaked to learn that blurry vision is a side effect of minoxidil. I have blurry vision that comes and goes and doctors can’t figure it out (my eye doctor thinks it’s just dry eyes). I’m pretty sure the blurry vision preceded my use of minoxidil, though. The other minor side effect I have is increased peach fuzz on the sides of my forehead. It’s kind of annoying, but it’s not that big of a deal. A lot of women are afraid of increased facial hair, but I haven’t experienced this, and if I did, I’d just wax or use a Nair facial product. Or if you have dark facial hair and lighter skin, you could be a candidate for laser hair removal, and Vaniqa cream is another option.

Side effects you need to know about!
Okay here’s another horrible potential side effect that you won’t see written on any package insert of minoxidil, but I think it may be true – minoxidil and Rogaine can cause wrinkles! That link takes you to an article I wrote about this issue on my skin care blog. Many people on the internet report increased facial wrinkles, and dark circles under their eyes after using Rogaine/minoxidil. I’ve also noticed dark circles under my eyes lately, which I never noticed before, and my wrinkles are getting worse. Am I just getting old, or is minoxidil prematurely aging me??? And if I go off minoxidil, will the wrinkles, dark circles, and rough skin texture get better? I don’t know.

Finally, the makers of Rogaine gloss over this issue, but tons of women report increased hair shedding after beginning the medication. On the official package insert, it says, “don’t worry—this is a good sign. It means that the new growth cycle is beginning and the older hairs you would have lost are making way for the new healthy ones. If this hair loss continues after 2 weeks on ROGAINE, talk to your doctor.” On hair loss internet websites, tons of women say you need to stick it out for up to three months before the increased shedding subsides. Three months is a really long time if your hair is falling out more than ever! My hair falls out too much every day, and this last year when I started minoxidil it continued to fall out a ton every day (and maybe more). I’ve been on the 2% minoxidil for at least six months now and my hair continues to shed like crazy – the shedding has never ended. It’s really hard to tell if the minoxidil is working, not working, or making things worse. It definitely has not been a wonder drug yet for me because I know I have less hair than I did six months ago, but that could just be because my hair loss is progressively getting worse on its own anyway.

The bottom line is that A LOT of women report increased shedding after starting minoxidil, and the shedding lasts way longer than the initial two weeks that the Rogaine makers says is normal. I haven’t read about a lot of women that have had excellent results with minoxidil, but there are some women that are delighted with the results. You also hear numerous horror stories about women that lose way more hair after starting minoxidil, and the hair never comes back. It’s hard to know for sure if the cause was minoxidil, or if their hair loss was on that path anyway. My suggestion is to start out slow and just use minoxidil on a small area of your head before you commit to your entire head. Give that small area a few months before going further. That way the worst that will happen is you’ll have a small area that is worse, rather than your whole head. I first did that, then I did the whole left side of my head every day, and now I do the whole top of my head. It was a long process, but I can’t say I noticed a difference on my left or right side, so minoxidil didn’t cause me to lose enough hair to discern which side was treated, and which wasn’t.

Bottom Line
There are many potential side effects of minoxidil for women. Make sure to read up on them, weigh the pros and cons, and talk to your doctor before starting the medication to treat androgenetic alopecia. Aside from the possible scary health issues, many women report an increase in hair loss initially from minoxidil, so you need to be warned of this. I’ve said it a million times – hair loss sucks, and there is no magic bullet treatment for everyone. Have you used minoxidil or Rogaine – for women, or the men’s version? What side effects have you experienced?

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Tags: Categories: Hair Loss Treatments

23 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • Dana
    September 29, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Hi there. I just found your blog and I’m hooked. I’m 43 and was diagnosed roughly a year ago with a “less common” form of the autoimmune disorder LPP, one that affects the scalp, causing burning and itching and then hair loss and follicle death. When I was diagnosed, I had developed several oval “dead” patches on my scalp around my hairline where no hair will ever grow again. I had thinning throughout the top and also a receding hairline. I was placed on Plaquenil, twice-daily topical steroids for my scalp, and Rogaine. The Plaquenil is used to treat Lupus, but it can also get LPP under control.

    I have responded well to the medicines, so my Plaquenil dose is about to be reduced, and I am now doing once daily topical steroids (at a reduced strength) on my scalp. I use the generic HEB version of Rogaine, a 2% solution. I have had no side-effects other than some hair growth on my forehead and some white flaking from the dried medicine. I have experienced some regrowth in the thinned areas and no additional bald patches appearing, but zero regrowth in those patches.

    It’s amazing how much you start to notice other women’s hairlines after starting to have hair loss yourself. I see it all the time now. My eye is drawn first to a hairline when I look at magazines, people in candid shots, in person, etc. It’s strange. I see it everywhere now. I use (and love) the Joan River’s product “Good Hair Day”. I bought some for my mom who uses it just for a thinning section along her crown when she goes out. She loves it too.

    I’m very glad to find your blog. Not many people talk about it. I’m fortunate that my bald patches can be hidden with clever parting. I have had people tell me “you’re not losing ANY hair” and then I am all “SEE” and lift the hair up and you can see EVERYTHING – or rather, the LACK of EVERYTHING. I don’t get gasps, but I’m lucky I can hide it as well as I can because the loss is real.

    I wish you luck in your journey and wanted to touch base to let you know your blog is important. Thank you! <3

    • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
      September 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      Thanks for leaving a comment. I’m glad you are finding ways to control your LPP (lichen planopilaris). I use the Joan Rivers Great Hair Day too, and am so reliant on it now. I love how it stays on my hair even after washing it, so I can pretend my hair loss isn’t as bad as it really is… I also stare all the hair of all women, and it annoys me that I do it, but I can’t stop it. Thanks!!

      • Dana
        October 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

        My main complaint about minoxidil is the flaking. I tend not to wash my hair every day, and using the minoxidil twice a day makes the flaking worse between shampoos. I have light to medium brown hair, and the flakes look like dandruff or lice or something (my daughter had lice late last year and I STILL look at every flake to be sure it’s not a nit). I wish they could fix that.

  • Gerald
    September 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks for the info on the blurry vision. I had never heard that or must have overlooked it, but I have had blurry vision too and was wondering about it. I got a new contact prescription two months before trying Minoxidil and I was confused as to why they were already causing me problems…

    • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
      September 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      Yeah I don’t remember seeing blurry vision on the package insert, and of course wrinkles is not on there either. I am on a few medications that list blurry vision as a possible side effect, and I live in the desert, so it might not be the minoxidil. The eye doctor thinks dry eyes is the most common cause of blurry vision (especially if your eyes feel in focus sometimes, but then they seem to go out of focus). I need to be more dilligent about contact drops and hydrating drops when I’m not wearing contacts.

      • Dana
        October 11, 2011 at 8:42 am

        OK, now that I think about it, my skin has DEFINITELY gotten more dry since using all my hair products. I’m talking about the skin on my face. I had to switch moisturizers because of it. I never thought it might be the medicines; I’m at that age where skin – and vision – are starting to go.

  • rena graham
    October 5, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I am in my early 20’s and suffer from aggressive hair loss. I do not look good with the whole bald look so i am interested in a hair system. Unfortunately i do not know much about the business and i hear a lot of ppl get screwed. So i am looking for advice. Basically i want a piece that is both durable and realistic. I constantly workout (about 4 times a week), thus sweat and smell will probably be issues i must consider. need advice on bonding, application, maintenance, and what systems to buy and where.

    • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
      October 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

      I am currently in the learning stages when it comes to getting a hair system, but when I know more I will write about it here. A lot of women get hair pieces from hairdirect.com, which is where you can work with someone there to pick out a bonded hair piece and have it sent to you. You can get one that is durable and realistic, and it can stay on for a week at a time. In your area you may be able to find a place that does it locally as well – do a google search for hair replacement, hair pieces, hair systems, etc.

  • Natasha
    March 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Hey girl, I just found your blog and I am so glad I did!! I feel you so much, especially on the depression. I’m really sorry Rogaine didn’t work for you- it worked pretty well for me, though I did add a few more treatments to the mix after. The wrinkle thing sucks, and I have read that too- something about a decreasing collagen related to Rogaine use. I may be paranoid but I could swear I see some mini-wrinkles in my face since using it, too (I’m only in my early 20s). I also grow hair on my face, thin but dark hairs mostly on my forehead- which I have to remove daily with nair (it’s worth it to me) and I get peach fuzz elsewhere which I usually remove with one of those mini electric razors… I’d rather have the wrinkles and get botox early in life than lose the hair I gained :\ That’s how I see it. Have you read much about the stem cell follicle trials that are out now? I think it’s in Europe, unfortunately the U.S. as you know is so stringent on stem cell research for political reasons… Seems like it might yield results within around a decade (and trials so far looking positive). Who knows how much it’ll cost though!! *sigh*

  • Hamid Khan
    July 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Sir my younger sister hair was lost since 2009. No hair in her head some time grow but after three or four months later they had being falling one by one. Now a days they are not growing. So Please kindly tell me what can i do because i m also very poor man.
    I am also belong from Pakistan.
    Tell me what can i do?
    Can i buy minoxidil 2% for sister?


    Best Regards
    Hamid Khan From Pakistan

    • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
      July 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      I am sorry to hear about your sister’s hair. If you or she can afford it, I would suggest she see a Dermatologist. It sounds like she may have Alopecia Areata or Alopecia Totalis, and she would need to be treated by a doctor. I wouldn’t recommend she use minoxidil until she sees a doctor first.

  • Patrice
    July 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Hey I’ve just found your website! I’m 2O and I was said to have had alopecia areta about a year and a half ago by my doctor. The first patch of hair loss I found a year ago has only seemed to have grown a little bit, I still have 2 small patches at the bottom of my head (just above my neck at my hair line) and this affects me from styling my hair the way I want too. I just want to ask, how long do u you use minoxidil before you can stop using it? I’m actually scared to start using it after reading that it also can cause hairloss :/ I’m going to ask my doctors advice before I think about using it. I just want something to help my hair growth at the back of my scalp! I would be greatful if you could give me some advice :)

    • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
      July 12, 2012 at 3:11 am

      Patrice, I’m sorry you’re dealing with Alopecia Areata:( I would try to speak with your doctor about it again. I don’t think minoxidil is usually used to treat your type of hair loss, which is auto-immune based. You doctor may have other treatments that he or she could recommend. Also, for people that use minoxidil for genetic hair loss, they have to use it forever if it works, because any hair that it caused to grow will end up being lost once you stop using it. And yes it can definitely cause initial shedding to be worse (as it did for me). I hope your doctor is able to offer you some help!

  • Nes
    August 19, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Hello, I’m 30 years old and was diagnosed only a month ago with androgenetic alopecia and alopecia diffusa. I was prescribed Alopexy, which is nothing else as minoxidil 2%, and I’ m using it for about 3 weeks. Moreover I was given suplements for hair strenghtening. Since I use the alopexy my hair is shedding like crazy, so that I ‘ m scared of washing, brushing even touching it. Ican relate to you and you “hair problem'” very well. Right now I’m obsessed with the hair of other women. The first thing I do is to look at a womens hair, judge if it’s thick and full or if she has thinning hair.
    I’ m considering taking Amino acids as I read that it has beneficial effects on hair. I was also recommended taking a Saliva sample test for determining the hormones status. The results from blood testing aren’t accurate enough. I ‘ ve ordered the test and will be doing it in a week as it has to be taken between the 19 – 22 day of menstrual cycle. I hope this will give me also some clues.

  • puja jain
    September 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    i m 19 years old and have a problem of receding hairline..i hav recently started using minoxil 5%. does d newly grown hair disappears after stopping the usage of minoxidil..please do reply..
    and are there any alternative methods to regrow hairs other than hair transplantation.

  • Denise
    September 12, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Has anyone else lost their sense of taste using topical minoxadil. That happened to me along with a itchy rash that felt like a thousand nits biting all at once. Tried it orally and face, legs and feet swelled after 4 days. Stopped taking that. Not sure what to do next.

  • Shahzad sam
    October 6, 2012 at 7:49 am

    hey! i m 25 years old and i have the problem of hair loss and thining of hair. and i also have white hairs problem.. i have started manoxidil 5%. But after reading ur article about side effect, it makes me worried. . . . . kindly help me in taking decision that should i use manoxidil 5% or not for thickning of hairs.

  • leisa stewrat
    October 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Hi, Im 33 and I have traction alopecia from years of dancing and pulling my hair back too tight. I have had this problem for about 6 years now. I have bought Minoxidil but am not game enough to use it because of the possible side affects and I dont want to lose any more hair. My thinning hair is at the sides around near my ears and underneath at the back near my neck. I cant do alot with my hair without you noticing it and Ive become very depressed with this. Its embaressing and I feel so ugly. Do you have any suggestions because it makes me incredibly self concious. Hair extentions are too heavy and I dont have enough hair in these places to hold them anyway. Please help…Im desperate.

  • suraya
    October 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I heard that when i gona put minoxidil the 1st month i gona lose m’y haïr is that true and after 3 or 4 months it wil be alright

  • Nelly
    October 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    I’ve used Minoxidil 2% for 18 month and had great results, I didn’t experienced any hair shedding, just mild itch. After 18 month, my hair started to shed again, which then I decided to stop using the Minoxidil. 6 month later I decided to use Spectral DNC which I regret, because I’ve lost 70% of my hair in space of 4 weeks :(
    It’s been 1 year now since I used DNC, I loose my hair everyday, I tried everything but its no use, Chinese 101 lotion, Amino Acids, vitamins you name it, I feel like I’ve used it all. Now I’m thinking to go back to Minoxidil, but I’m really scared, I can’t loose any more hair!
    Yes with Minoxidil I did get some mild facial hair, which is easy to take off, also I did get the wrinkles, but they don’t go away. If anyone has any diffrent ideas please let me know, as currently I’m planing to shave my hair off, I’m too tired to keep checking my pillow every morning or count the shredded hairs on my brush, I’m just too tired and fed up :(

  • Patricia Welsh
    November 8, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I have used Rogaine for about three years. I have been delighted with the regrowth of hair. My hair has always been naturally wavy and one of my best features. When I began losing it and bare areas showed up on my crown and top of head I was upset especially since I am a public speaker and TV person (despite age.) My mother lived to be 90 and she had very thin hair on top of scalp. I might live longer than she did since I am so active. I am in my 80’s but still doing a lot professionally. My (highly intelligent) dermatological nurse told me about Rogaine and said it really works and is not dangerous. I had some itching at first. I began by using it once a day but still got great results. I now use it fairly faithfully twice a day. Results are impressive. I have my great hair back and folks are always saying how young I look. A man fell in love with me. Very sweet guy. No worse wrinkles for me. I have never had a face lift despite being in the public eye, but I use a good face cream at night. Is the generic type as good?

  • Maryanne Thompson
    December 15, 2012 at 11:24 am

    have hereditary hair loss and tried generic manoxidil… after four months saw great results,,, actually amazing… but… in the fourth month started to have sever head pain at areas where applied.,,,some days, open sores broke out at sites… had to stop… hair began to fall out everywhere..loss was amazing.. waited several weeks, dilluted with water and tried again with same results…. really scary. now hair loss is out of control… need a treatment, manox not it..

  • maria
    December 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    so im 16 years old and my hair has been falling out A LOT since i was 13
    i have a bold spot right on top of my head which ive managed to hide with my side bangs
    but yeah im pretty much freaking out x( i dont know what to do my hair is falli out like crazy
    and im getting pretty scared because my grandma is bald x(
    PLEASE help!

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