Minoxidil is a prescription medication used to treat hair loss and promote hair growth in both men and women. It is most effective for people under the age of 40. Hair loss (alopecia) is a common condition that affects 300+ million people every single year. Nearly 85% of men over the age of 50 will experience hair loss, as will nearly 50% of women. By the age of 35, two-thirds of men will experience symptoms of male pattern hair loss, with balding occurring as early as 21.
Male pattern hair loss (or male pattern baldness) is the most common type of hair loss in men. Androgenetic alopecia/ androgenic alopecia (the interchangeable medical term for male pattern hair loss) is hereditary and occurs gradually as men grow older. If you have a family history of receding hairlines or baldness, you will likely experience male pattern hair loss at some point in time.
Male pattern hair loss is caused by changing androgens, or, sex hormones. The most prevalent androgen is testosterone, which is converted to DHT, or dihydrotestosterone. Androgens regulate hair growth, which explains why men grow facial hair and pubic hair. As men age, these hormones can affect the growth cycle of hair and shorten hair follicles, leading to thinner and weaker strands of hair. Eventually, hair begins to fall out and balding begins to occur.
Female pattern hair loss is a common condition among aging women. Nearly two-thirds of women experience some form of hair loss after menopause. While female pattern hair loss doesn't usually leave the bald spots that male pattern baldness does, it can result in very thin hair, especially at the top of the head.
Minoxidil will not cure these conditions, but it can help you keep the hair you have while preventing further balding. In addition, minoxidil has been shown to encourage hair growth. It may take several months for hair growth to occur, and the regrown hair will fall out if you stop using minoxidil.