There’s an old remedy for hair loss that’s come back in style — and its effects have been lush for many men and women alike.
Minoxidil, a key ingredient in foams like the brand Rogaine, is being popularized in an oral pill form — just as it once was in the late 1980s and early 1990s prior to scalp-rubbing treatments.
The best part is that it’s substantially cheaper than foam treatments, according to Dr. Amanda Doyle, a board-certified dermatologist with Manhattan’s Russak Dermatology Clinic.
“The pill is typically inexpensive compared to other treatment options; it can be overall more cost-effective for some patients,” Doyle told The Post. “I think it’s good that people are getting a little bit more aware of it. There’s a lot of literature on it, so I’m surprised it hasn’t been more front and center.”
Although researchers are still looking into exactly how minoxidil — a chemical first used to treat high blood pressure — does impact hair growth, Doyle said that it’s extremely safe for how the oral pill is currently administered.
“It’s found to be effective in certain patients and, generally, a very safe medication when we use it as such a small dose, like we do for this purpose,” Doyle said. “So when it’s used at a lower dose, in most patients, it doesn’t really have the effects on blood pressure or cardiovascular measures like when it’s used at high doses.”
However, the treatment is not yet that well-known, nor has it been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the New York Times. As with many cases in dermatology, minoxidil gets prescribed in an unapproved way known as “off-label.”
But many in the industry are embracing — and succeeding — with the cheap drug and the popularity of off-label practices. “I tell people most things we do are off-label because there is nothing on-label,” Dr. Robert Swerlick, professor and chair of the dermatology department at Emory University School of Medicine told the Times.
However, there is a downside. The pill can make patients grow hair throughout their entire body — as opposed to foams that are applied only to one’s scalp.
“It can stimulate hair growth or what’s called hypertrichosis on the temples and sideburns … So a woman wouldn’t want to get sideburns, or more facial hair, which could happen with this medication,” Doyle told The Post.
Yet overall, there seems to be more good than harm coming off recent study figures.
One professor of dermatology at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Dr. Rodney Sinclair reported in 2015 that the low dose minoxidil saw successful hair growth in 100 women, according to The Times. Since then, he’s treated 10,000 similar patients.
Overall, though, Doyle sees optimism about minoxidil for the bevy of ways to deal with balding, she said.
“We’ve got a good amount of things that we can do for hair loss for men and women now, which is great,” she said.