Rogaine or Generic Minoxidil, Which One Is More Helpful?

Published: 15th September 2008
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Rogaine was the first medicinal drug in history approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating hereditary hair loss. By now it has been approved and is available as a cure for baldness in many other countries of the world. Its only active ingredient is minoxidil, a vasodilator that was originally used in the form of the oral drug Loniten to treat high blood pressure. Minoxidil is a hair-growth stimulant but its exact mechanism of action is not known. Since Loniten has long come off patent, generic minoxidil is commonly available in pharmacies at a very reasonable price and in most countries it does not require a doctor's prescription.

Both Rogaine and generic minoxidil solutions are sold in concentrations of 2% for women and 5% for men but many experimental generic mixtures use concentrations of up to 20%. Minoxidil is often blamed for causing various negative side-effects. Since it has become the most frequently-used drug for treating baldness, its side effects are very well documented and they happen to be often exaggerated. In less than one percent of users they include an irregular or fast heart beat, very low blood pressure, blurred vision, swelling face and ankles, numbness in the hands, etc. These symptoms are directly related to minoxidil being a vasodilator. In addition, minoxidil can cause increased hair growth on the face and other parts of the body. This is due to its ability to stimulate hair growth. But some side-effects that minoxidil is often blamed for are not caused by minoxidil itself. They include inflammation, itchiness and redness of the scalp, dandruff and allergic reactions. These side-effects can be attributed to the vehicles used in the solution, such as propylene glycol and isopropyl alcohol (propanol). Many hair loss sufferers have discontinued their treatment with minoxidil because of scalp problems, although minoxidil rarely causes such reactions.

Furthermore, many generic, minoxidil-based lotions contain supplementary ingredients that are supposed to enhance their overall efficacy, such as azelaic acid, retinoic acid, herbal extracts, etc. These substances, especially the herbal extracts, are known to be allergenic to many people. It is advisable to try several different minoxidil-based treatments, for instance, those that do not contain propylene glycol, in order to test their tolerability for your scalp. A more expensive product, e.g. the original formulation - Rogaine liquid - is not necessarily a better option than a less expensive generic mixture. However, Rogaine foam, though quite expensive, is usually very well tolerated. Anti-dandruff shampoos, e.g. Nizoral, can, in the majority of patients, be employed successfully to treat scalp inflammations, redness, itchiness and dandruff caused by the use of minoxidil-based topicals.

The tolerance of minoxidil based hair loss products is one of many topics examined at, a website dedicated to educating the public on the treatment options for premature greying and thinning hair.

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