Minoxidil is a medication that was initially developed to treat high blood pressure but now is more commonly used to stimulate hair growth. It isn’t fully understood the exact process that takes place to allow minoxidil to stimulate hair growth, but it has become very popular in the United States as an over-the-counter treatment for hair loss in both men and women. Primarily used as a treatment for hair loss on the scalp, it is also possible to use minoxidil on the eyebrows.
Using Minoxidil on Eyebrows
Because minoxidil is useful in treating smaller areas, it has proven particularly effective in treating thinning eyebrows. Thinning eyebrows is a common problem that can be caused by
- Hormonal imbalances due to pregnancy or thyroid problems
- Fungal infections
- Psoriasis and other skin disorders
- The result of chemotherapy
Minoxidil has proven effective in treating thinning eyebrows for approximately 84 percent of patients. New eyebrow growth typically begins after about 12 weeks of use. You can expect the same types of results that other topical eyebrow treatments enjoy. It must be remembered that these types of treatments are not going to work for every single case because everyone’s circumstances are different.
An underlying crucial factor about whether a minoxidil treatment is going to work on the eyebrows comes down to the health of the eyebrow follicles. Because minoxidil works by increasing the blood flow to the follicle to improve its health it is necessary for the follicle to start out healthy.
Minoxidil Hair Growth Products
One of the first and possibly best known hair growth products containing minoxidil is marketed in the United States as Rogaine. Other solutions have become available in recent times such as Theroxidil, Minoxidil 2%, Minoxidil 5%, Xandrox, Nanominox and Spectral. In Canada it is used in brand names such as Apo-Gain, Gen-Minoxidol, Hairgro, Minox and Hair Regrowth Treatment.
Although these products haven’t been developed specifically for use on the eyebrows the process is the same in terms of how the hair growing conditions are stimulated so there is no reason why it won’t work on the eyebrows. Because we are dealing with a sensitive part of the body in terms of the eyes, some care should be taken when applying the solution that it doesn’t get in the eyes.
How Does It Work?
Doctors don’t fully understand why minoxidil has been successful in treating hair loss, but there are some theories. The most prevalent theory of why minoxidil can stimulate hair growth is because it works as a vasodilator. A vasodilator is a medication that widens blood vessels, which is why minoxidil also works as a blood pressure medication.
It is believed that by widening blood vessels and opening potassium channels leading to hair follicles, minoxidil can allow more blood, oxygen and nutrients to access the follicle and stimulate hair growth. Minoxidil typically works best when it is applied to smaller areas, making it an effective product to use on eyebrows. It is less effective when applied to larger areas.
How Long Does it Take for Results to be Noticeable?
Most people use minoxidil for several months before it can have a noticeable effect and that length of time could exceed a year. There is no short cut when using it, applying it more often than the recommended treatment rate will not increase the growth rate.
Once hair growth begins, it will continue until use of the drug is discontinued. Therefore, minoxidil is only effective as a long-term solution for as long as the product is being used. Hair loss typically continues a few months after a minoxidil regimen is stopped.
Things to Consider Before Using Minoxidil
- It is always best to speak to your doctor before using any medication.
- No medicine is without side effects, and minoxidil is no exception.
- It is especially important to speak with your doctor if you have any allergies to certain foods, dyes or preservatives.
- Women should talk to their doctor if they are pregnant, have plans on falling pregnant or are breast feeding.
- Many over-the-counter drugs contain inactive ingredients that could trigger allergic reactions.
- If you experience any such reactions to minoxidil, discontinue use immediately and speak to your doctor about other treatment options.
- Other side effects of minoxidil include irritation at the treatment area, chest pains, dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, fainting and rapid weight gain. These are relatively rare, but you should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects.
There have also been very few studies regarding the effects of minoxidil in children. Therefore, pediatric use is not recommended. There appears to be no problems that would limit the effectiveness of minoxidil for senior citizens, although studies have shown that the medication works best for younger patients with a short history of hair loss.
Minoxidil is also highly toxic to cats. Even inadvertent skin contact can be fatal to them, so the product should be kept away from pets.
Who Should Use Minoxidil?
Minoxidil products are available in different strengths for both men and women. The product generally works best for younger people with short histories of hair loss, although pediatric use has not been thoroughly studied and is not recommended. Minoxidil works best when it is used on smaller areas where hair loss is just beginning. It generally isn’t as effective for those who have a longer history of hair loss and have large bald spots.
Although minoxidil is available as an oral medication, most over-the-counter products intended for hair regrowth are applied topically. It is recommended that topical minoxidil be applied to the treatment area once or twice daily. It is also recommended that it remain in contact with the scalp for four hours at a time.
In What Cases Will Minoxidil Not Work?
Reports show that minoxidil only works well for about 25 percent of the population. However, this may not be entirely accurate. Minoxidil works in roughly 90 percent of cases, but it can take as long as two years for some patients to see results. Many people are unwilling to wait that long and will write off minoxidil as something that simply won’t work for them.
If the eyebrow hair follicles have been damaged – and this can happen through trauma from plucking, scarring that has gone deeply into the skin, burn damage – then it is very unlikely that this kind of treatment will not work. It is more likely that the best option would be to pursue the possibility of undergoing an eyebrow transplant instead.
As we have said before, minoxidil works best for patients who are treating smaller bald patches and is significantly less effective when applied to large areas. As always, each person who uses minoxidil will experience slightly different results, and what works well for one person won’t work for someone else. Be patient when using minoxidil, and always speak to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.