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Should Women Use 5% Minoxidil?

Rogain for women, which contains 2% minoxidil, is the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of female hair loss today. The main reason why women should exercise caution when using minoxidil is the fact that it can induce undesired facial hair growth. However, it does not seem to be such a big problem as it does not happen too often and the peach fuzz which sometimes grows tends to disappear once the treatment has been discontinued. Another reason why women are advised to use only 2% minoxidil solutions is the fact that at this concentration minoxidil is easily soluble in ethanol, which makes the solution dry fast and enables women to style their hair as usual. In order to dissolve the larger quantities of minoxidil needed to achieve higher concentrations more viscous solvents are necessary, such as propanol or propylene glycol. Such vehicles make the mixture dry slowly and leave the hair looking greasy and more difficult to style. In addition, propanol and propylene glycol frequently cause redness and itchiness of the scalp, which can in turn lead to overabsorption of minoxidil and result in unwanted side effects. This seems reason enough for 5% minoxidil mixtures not to be recommended to women.

Nonetheless, in clinical trials, the 2% Rogaine worked in barely 42% of individuals, whereas the 5% liquid worked in 64% of individuals, and Rogaine foam 5% has been shown to work in nearly 85% of test subjects. That is a significant difference in efficacy for various applications of the same medication. Rogaine foam, in addition to being the most effective form of minoxidil delivery, is also the most comfortable as it dries quickly and does not negatively affect the appearance of the hair. The only reason for a woman not to use 5% minoxidil solution in the form of Rogaine foam is the fear of unwanted hair growth. Given the fact that this side effect is uncommon and is reversible, it may make sense to recommend this product to women if it can improve results. Needless to say, many doctors already do recommend Rogaine foam to their female hair-loss patients. In order to minimise the chances of negative side effects, women should apply Rogaine foam at least 30 minutes after washing their hair, in order to avoid overabsorption, and should interrupt the treatment if an allergic reaction occurs. Pregnant and women who are breast-feeding should stay away from minoxidil-based hair loss treatments altogether.

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