1988, Pharmacia & Upjohn Company introduced the first FDA-approved
product proven to regrow hair. In 2000, Rogaine is still the
only topical product proven to grow hair. While bringing much
hope to the hair loss sufferer, early Rogaine results were not
very spectacular. Part of the problem resulted from peoples
unrealistic expectations of this "miracle" drug, and
part resulted from the FDA only approving a 2% strength solution.
In 1996, after proving to the FDA that Rogaine had an excellent
safety profile, Rogaine Extra Strength, or 5% Minoxidil, was
approved as an over-the-counter (non prescription) medication
for use by men. Rogaine Extra Strength delivered the goods for
a lot of men since the effects of Minoxidil are dose dependent
so the higher the strength the better the results.
Rogaine is a clear alcohol based solution that is applied to
thinning areas twice a day with the supplied dropper or spray.
Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, was originally
used a drug to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) when
it was discovered to cause hair growth.
How Minoxidil works to grow hair has been the subject of speculation
for many years. Reseachers initially believed it worked as a
vasodilator, stimulating blood flow to the follicle. However
the most current research hold that Minoxidil works by opening
potassium channels in the cells of the follicle. The opening
of intracellular potassium channels has been suggested as a
way of regulating hair growth. Regardless of the exact method
it works, Rogaine stimulates dormant hair follicles and reverses
the miniaturization of the follicles. This makes Rogaine the
drug of choice for treating all types of hair loss since it
has a very specific action without unwanted side effects.
Results from Rogaine vary depending on the individual, but in
clinical studies it was show that it grew 25% more hair than
the placebo. Additionally Rogaine also increased the hair weight
or thickness of existing hairs. Ultimately the severity and
duration of your hair loss will dictate how effective Rogaine
is. It is not a miracle cure but it does have good results when
used consistently. Consistency is the key to success since stopping
the application of Rogaine will cause the hairs gained to be
lost in about 6 months. On the other hand the results from Rogaine
can diminish over time, some doctors believe there is a tolerance
that is built up over many years of use. One way of remedying
this tolerance concern is to take a week or two off the treatment
every 3-4 months. However it is not recommended to do this until
you have been using it consistently for at least 12 months.
Rogaine and DHT
Rogaine unfortunately does not reduce or remove DHT which
is the cause of Androgenic Alopecia. However this can be remedied
by using a DHT inhibitor in combination with Rogaine. In fact
some dermatologists recommend using Rogaine in conjunction with
Propecia, and there have been studies that have show that these
two drugs work synergistically and give far better results than
using either drug on its own. Pharmacia, the manufacturers of
Rogaine actually hold a patent for using Rogaine with a DHT
inhibitor, or Anti Androgen.
To date Rogaine Extra strength has not yet been approved
for use by women, although some women do use the product. Upjohn
sells a Rogaine for Women brand but it is no different to the
2% Rogaine for men, so a women can use any generic 2% or Rogaine
2% for men since the ingredients are identical. The main reason
for women not using Extra Strength Rogaine is that it can result
in excessive facial hair growth. Women should consult with their
physician before using a higher than 2% version of Rogaine.
Pregnant or nursing mothers should also contact a physician
and Custom Formulations
Rogaine 5% Extra Strength is adequate for most men and Rogaine
guarantees results in 90 days. However since Minoxidil is dose
dependent some doctors and pharmacies compound their own custom
formulations up to 15% strength. Unfortunately Minoxidil crystallizes
at about a 10% concentration so anything higher has to be formulated
as a cream. These higher formulations however have not been
approved for use by the FDA and are only available to patients
by prescription. Upjohn's patent for 2% Minoxidil has expired
so any company can produce their own version of generic Minoxidil.
These generics have exactly the same ingredients but at a lower
price. At this time only Upjohn can sell a 5% version of Minoxidil,
however the patent for 5% Minoxidil will expire in November
2000 and then there will be generic version of 5% Minoxidil
available at a lower cost.
Side effects are not common, but some people can experience
a contact dermatitis or irritated skin from the alcohol in the
Rogaine. Excessive doses can cause a rapid heartbeat or dizziness
but is very uncommon with normal use.