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Side Effects of Minoxidil

Common Side Effects

The prescribing information for prescription medications contains the exact percentage of side effects that occurred in clinical trials. However, information for over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as minoxidil, is less detailed. Therefore, it can be difficult to know exactly what side effects occur and how common the reactions may be.
The most common minoxidil side effects are local irritation to the application site (the scalp), including:
  • A dry, flaky, and itchy scalp
  • A red, irritated scalp.
Additionally, some people may experience an increase in hair loss at the beginning of treatment. This is a temporary side effect that should resolve within a couple of weeks.
Unwanted facial hair growth may occur in some people who use this medication. Although this side effect is rare, it is more likely to occur in people who touch their face after applying the medication and in women who use minoxidil 5% products (which are approved for men only), instead of the 2% products.
It is recommended that women only use minoxidil 2% solution. A special women's minoxidil is available in the 2% strength. Also, make sure to wash your hands immediately after applying this medicine.

Final Thoughts

You may experience some or none of the side effects listed in this article. Unfortunately, there is no way for your healthcare provider to know beforehand if you will have problems with a medicine that you have never tried.
Therefore, make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you develop any side effects while using minoxidil or if something "just does not seem right." While it may not be related to the medication, your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose and treat the problem.
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