Can women use Minoxidil 5% for Hair Loss Treatment?

Q:

Dr. Mohebi,

I was trying to buy minoxidil 5% from a pharmacy but the pharmacist told me that 5% minoxidil foam is only for men.  He told me that I should use 2% solutions instead.

I am pretty sure you recommended 5% for me, is that correct?

 

A:

Minoxidil or Rogaine is one of the FDA approved medications that is used for treatment of many hair loss conditions in men and women. It has been available to the hair loss patient over the counter for many years now.  It is available in 2% and 5% as over the counter solutions or foams, but higher doses should be prescribed by hair specialists.

A study that was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in April of 2004 compared the result of hair loss treatment with 2% vs. 5% minoxidil in women with female pattern hair loss after 48 weeks of treatment. The result showed that 5% minoxidil was more effective in regards to increased hair number and patient and overall hair growth.

As you mentioned it is written on the boxes of 5% version that is it for men only. The reason for that is the 2% concentration is the licensed for women initially. It is not that women cannot use minoxidil 5%, but it means higher than 2% concentrations require a physician prescription.  This is mostly a safety measure for manufacturers since the medication is sold over the counter. The over-the-counter manufacture labeling instruction is superseded by your attending physician’s prescription and monitoring of your treatment. It is important to reiterate my point here; minoxidil should be always started after you are examined by a hair specialist.  As medical doctors we monitor the patient’s response to the treatment through follow up evaluations and comparison of miniaturization numbers and pictures.