More and more Brazilians are looking for minoxidil, a drug used to stimulate hair growth.
Data from the Ministry of Economy indicates that drug imports grew by 30.7% last year. In 2021, 3.4 million USD were imported, while in 2020 it was 2.6 million USD.
By observing the patients she sees daily, dermatologist Fabian Brenner, coordinator of the hair department at the SBD (Brazilian Society of Dermatology), realized that the greatest demand for the drug is linked to hair loss caused by Covid-19. “People are more vigilant about this problem, which makes it easier to go to the office,” he says.
However, the dermatologist notes that minoxidil in these cases is ineffective, because the symptoms of infection with the Coronavirus are a temporary problem. See below, how this medicine works and in what cases it should be used.
What is minoxidil?
The dermatologist says minoxidil emerged as a drug to treat high blood pressure in the 1960s, and she says, “The first studies showed that patients improved their blood pressure, but they also gained new strands, hair, and new body hair.”
But concern about the effect on blood pressure led scientists to develop a version of the lotion to be applied directly to the affected area. Brenner concludes, “In the past five years, many studies of the oral version have been done and shown that lower doses do not cause many side effects. So they have been prescribed to individual patients.”
Trichologist Simone Neri, who works in Osasco (SP), says that oral minoxidil is usually indicated for more advanced cases. “As an antihypertensive, it’s used at a concentration of up to 10 milligrams. For hair, we typically use 0.5 to 2.5 milligrams per day, safely,” he explains.
The topical version can be purchased at any pharmacy. As for orally, only in manipulative pharmacies.
How does minoxidil work and who is it for?
Neri explains that the treatment works by increasing localized circulation, causing blood vessels to dilate, and improving the supply of nutrients within hair follicles — the site of skin responsible for the production and growth of wires.
Plus, it increases hair growth time. See: In a person without hair loss problems, each hair continues to grow for about six years, until it reaches the point where it falls out and is replaced by new hair. This happens throughout life.
“The problem for those with alopecia, also called androgenetic alopecia, is that this cycle is shorter and the new hair is thinned out. What minoxidil does is to prolong this period,” Brenner adds.
In addition to baldness, minoxidil can be used to treat other types of alopecia, both in men and in women.
What are the side effects
Anyone using oral minoxidil should be aware that it will stimulate hair production all over the body, not just the area affected by alopecia.
“It can also lead to swelling of the face, lower and upper extremities. That is why we do not recommend self-medication, the patient needs medical follow-up,” warns Neri. The trichologist tells that when this occurs, use should be discontinued.
The topical version is able to cause mild itching and irritation.
Can it be used on the beard?
You can apply the topical version in the beard and eyebrow area to stimulate the growth of thick wires. However, it is important to know that minoxidil does not cause hair to grow as there are no hair follicles.
“In patients who have a sparse beard, this can lead to a thickening of the wires, but it’s not like a transplant,” explains Neri.
What are the precautions when using
In addition to monitoring for side effects, patients with androgenetic alopecia must necessarily use them associated with hormone blockers: finasteride or dutasteride.
“They will reduce the conversion of testosterone in the hair follicles. This will prevent hair thinning and hair loss from occurring,” justifies the trichologist.
Experts advise them binding Reiterate that this medicine should not be used alone. It is essential to follow up with a specialist to see if your problem can be resolved with this treatment and what is the correct dosage.
What are the contraindications?
According to Brenner, Minoxidil should not be consumed by pregnant women, children, and people with kidney, heart or liver problems. The dermatologist concludes, “People with very low blood pressure also need to avoid it as it can cause hypotension and fainting. There is even a possibility of sudden death.”
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