Rogaine (Minoxidil) – Topical

What Is Rogaine?

Rogaine (minoxidil) is an over-the-counter (OTC) topical medication that helps with short-term hair growth in adults ages 18 and older. Rogaine is most effective for people under 40 years of age whose hair loss is recent. The medication does not affect receding hairlines and does not cure baldness. As a result, most new hair is lost within a few months after the drug is stopped.

Although how Rogaine exactly helps with hair growth is unknown, it’s thought to work by influencing the hair cycle. Rogaine might lessen the time between the telogen phase—when the hair stops growing and eventually falls out—and the anagen phase, which is the hair growth phase.

Rogaine is thought to also work by opening potassium channels—proteins that form a tunnel to allow the passage of potassium—in the hair follicle. By opening potassium channels, Rogaine might block calcium into the hair cell. Without calcium, the epidermal growth factor (EGF), a type of protein,will not prevent hair growth.

Rogaine is also thought to raise the activity of 17 beta-hydroxylated dehydrogenase (17β-HSD)—which is involved in the final step of making testosterone—in the dermal papilla cells of a balding scalp. A dermal papilla is a group of mesenchymal cells—stem cells—under the hair follicle.

While the drug minoxidil is sometimes prescribed in oral tablet form, this article will focus on the topical products sold under the brand name "Rogaine."

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Minoxidil

Brand Name(s): Rogaine, Men's Rogaine, Men's Rogaine Extra Strength, Women's Rogaine

Drug Availability: OTC (topical)/prescription (oral tablet form)

Administration Route: Topical, oral

Therapeutic Classification: Alopecia agent

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Minoxidil

Dosage Form(s): Foam, solution, tablet (for generic minoxidil)

What Is Rogaine Used For?

Rogaine is an at-home OTC topical medication option to help with hair growth. There are many different types of alopecia (hair loss). The most common type is androgenetic alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia can occur in people assigned as female or male at birth.

In fact, in the United States, this condition affects about 50 million people assigned male at birth and 30 million people assigned female at birth.

In people assigned male at birth, the condition is commonly known as male-pattern baldness with a receding hairline that may lead to complete baldness.

In people assigned female at birth, the condition is called female-pattern baldness, which includes a symptom of thinning hair without a receding hairline.

It's also important to know that as an oral medication, the drug minoxidil can be used to treat high blood pressure.

How to Use Rogaine

Since directions might vary for each OTC product, carefully read the labeling and the information on the package of the container. In general, avoid using Rogaine products near the eyes and on body parts other than the scalp. However, the following are the general steps to use Rogaine:

Men’s or Women’s Rogaine solution:

  1. Twice daily, place a 1-milliliter drop onto the area of hair loss on the scalp. 
  2. Continue using as necessary to prevent the return of hair loss.

Men’s Rogaine unscented foam:

  1. Massage half a capful twice daily into the hair loss area of the scalp.
  2. Thoroughly wash hands after each use.
  3. Continue using as necessary to prevent the return of hair loss.

Women’s Rogaine unscented foam:

  1. Massage half a capful once daily into the hair loss area of the scalp.
  2. Thoroughly wash hands after each use.
  3. Continue using as necessary to prevent the return of hair loss.

Storage

Since Rogaine is an OTC product, you don’t usually need a prescription from a healthcare provider to buy it. After bringing Rogaine home, store the medication at room temperature. Avoid exposing the product to heat, smoke, temperatures higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, open flame, or fire.

Before traveling with Rogaine, become familiar with your final destination’s regulations. In general, however, keep Rogaine in its original container and packaging. If your healthcare provider recommended Rogaine, ask for a copy of a prescription for this OTC product.

How Long Does Rogaine Take to Work?

You might not notice results until two to four months of continuous use.

What Are the Side Effects of Rogaine?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A medical professional can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

As with all medications, Rogaine can cause side effects. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects you experience while taking this medication.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of Rogaine include:

  • Changes in hair color or texture
  • Itchiness
  • Skin irritation
  • Skin rash
  • Skin redness

Severe Side Effects

Although skin irritation and redness are common side effects of Rogaine, they can sometimes be severe. If you’re concerned about your skin irritation and redness, notify your healthcare provider.

Also, inform your healthcare provider if you experience the following serious side effects:

Long-Term Side Effects

According to prescribing information for minoxidil tablets, long-term treatment with this medication will not lead to worsening heart function. Additionally, in laboratory tests, minoxidil did not mutate (change) or damage the hereditary material in humans known as DNA.

However, hair loss might return after stopping regular Rogaine use.

Report Side Effects

Rogaine may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Rogaine Should I Use?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For hair growth:
    • For topical solution dosage form:
      • Adults—Apply 1 milliliter (mL) to the scalp two times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For topical foam dosage form:
      • Adults—Apply half a capful to the scalp two times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor .

Modifications

Older adults: If you are an older adult—over 65 years old—taking Rogaine and feel dizzy or faint, stop using Rogaine and consult with your healthcare provider.

People with heart conditions: Rogaine may potentially worsen your heart condition. Talk with your healthcare provider first before using Rogaine.

People younger than 18 years old: The manufacturer (Johnson & Johnson) doesn’t recommend using Rogaine on children under 18 years of age.

Pregnant or breastfeeding parents: Rogaine may cause harm to fetuses and breastfeeding infants. However, some experts believe that the risk is low in nursing infants. To be safe, if you’re pregnant, become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using Rogaine.

Missed Dose

If you accidentally miss a dose of Rogaine, do not make up for the missed dose by taking another dose. Instead, wait until the next scheduled dose to use Rogaine again.

Consistent use is necessary to prevent the return of hair loss. If you miss too many doses in a row, then your hair loss may come back.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Rogaine?

If you use Rogaine more often than the packaging instructions indicate, you will not grow hair faster or in greater quantity. In fact, using too much Rogaine increases your risk of side effects. If you’re worried about your side effects, immediately inform your healthcare provider.

Standard symptoms of a medication-related overdose include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Sweating
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Upper stomach pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)

What Happens If I Overdose on Rogaine?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Rogaine, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Rogaine, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

Tell your doctor if you notice continued itching, redness, or burning of your scalp after you apply minoxidil. If the itching, redness, or burning is severe, wash the medicine off and check with your doctor before using it again.

Hair loss may continue for 2 weeks after you start using minoxidil. Tell your doctor if your hair loss continues after 2 weeks. Also, tell your doctor if your hair growth does not increase after using minoxidil for 4 months.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn't Take Rogaine?

Rogaine is not appropriate for everyone. You should not take this medication if you are allergic to minoxidil or any of the inactive ingredients in Rogaine.

Rogaine may be used with caution in some people only if their healthcare provider determines it is safe, including when a person's:

  • Hair loss amount and extent are different than what is shown on the package
  • Hair loss is linked to childbirth
  • Hair loss is sudden and/or patchy
  • Family history does not indicate hair loss
  • Reason for hair loss is unknown
  • Scalp is red, irritated, swollen, painful
  • Age is under 18 years old

What Other Medications May Interact With Rogaine?

Tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and OTC medicines, and vitamins or supplements. 

If you use other medications on your scalp, the manufacturer recommends against using them while also using Rogaine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your healthcare provider.

What Medications Are Similar?

Potential options to help with hair growth include different procedures, prescription medications, and supplements. Rogaine, however, is the only topical OTC medication for hair loss.

Comparatively, the following drug options are sometimes prescribed to treat or prevent hair loss:

  • Azulfidine (sulfasalazine)
  • Olumiant (baricitinib)
  • Aldactone (spironolactone)
  • Triamcinolone

Consider talking with a dermatologist (healthcare provider who specializes in conditions of the skin, hair, and nails) to help you decide on the best treatment plan for you.

The above is not a list of drugs recommended to take with Rogaine. Discuss any questions or concerns you have with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will Rogaine work the same for everyone?

    No. Rogaine will affect everyone differently. Some people might also experience changes in the color or texture of their hair.

  • Can Rogaine regrow a head of hair?

    No. Rogain may help with early hair loss, but it’s unlikely to regrow all of your lost hair. So, Rogaine will not regrow a head of hair.

  • Can Rogaine be used to prevent hair loss?

    No. The FDA approved Rogaine to treat hair loss—not prevent it.

  • After using Rogaine, how long do I have to wait before I can wash my hair?

    After applying Rogaine, wait four hours before exposing your hair to any water—like while showering, swimming, or walking in the rain.


    If you like to wash your hair before using Rogaine, use mild shampoo.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Using Rogaine?

Hair loss can understandably cause distressing feelings and negatively affect your self-esteem. Consider talking with a dermatologist to help you determine the cause and appropriate treatment plan for your hair loss.

If the cause is low vitamins, the dermatologist can recommend some supplements for you. Sometimes, the cause of hair loss is due to certain hairstyles. Try not to pull your hair back too tightly. Constantly doing so may lead to permanent hair loss. Also, limit your use of curling irons, flattening irons, and other hair treatments that heat up and damage your hair. Instead, try to use a gentle shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, and gentle brushing for your hair.

If the cause is due to pulling your hair to relieve stress, on the other hand, consider talking with a therapist or mental health professional—who might help you find ways to prevent hair-pulling to cope with stress.

Healthy lifestyle choices are also important. Try to stop smoking. Also, try to eat healthily and get enough calories and nutrients to prevent hair loss.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Prescribers’ Digital Reference. Minoxidil - drug summary.

  3. Morgan BA. The dermal papilla: an instructive niche for epithelial stem and progenitor cells in development and regeneration of the hair follicle. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014;4(7):a015180. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a015180

  4. MedlinePlus. Minoxidil.

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. What is alopecia areata?

  6. MedlinePlus. Androgenetic alopecia.

  7. DailyMed. Label: mens Rogaine minoxidil - unscented formula- minoxidil aerosol, foam.

  8. Drugs and Lactation Database: National Library of Medicine. Minoxidil.

  9. American Addiction Centers. Overdose symptoms, risks & treatment.

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By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.