Minoxidil is the accidental hero of hair loss. Once thought to be a breakthrough medication for blood pressure, minoxidil was less popular when clinicians noticed increased hair growth on those taking it. Loniten was the brand name when indicated for blood pressure.
While minoxidil capsules are also used for the treatment of alopecia areata, the majority of minoxidil scripts are for a topical solution applied to the scalp.
Often combined with tretinoin (a vitamin A derivative) to improve the effect and reduce the application rate, minoxidil is a safe and effective treatment that improves blood supply to the scalp. The easiest way to think of this is like improving the soil in a garden. Improved blood supply equals more nutrients and oxygen for hair follicles.
There is more to the hair loss story and while most men and women find that minoxidil is effective, there are other active pharmaceutical ingredients that can improve outcomes. Finasteride, latanoprost and corticosteroids are all used in hair restoration.
Hair loss does not always occur on the head. Many people have thin eyebrows, sparse eyelashes and loss of hair from beards. Products are available to help with these medical conditions as well.