11 Potential Side Effects of Rogaine for Women
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Although minoxidil (Rogaine) is generally safe, it may cause side effects like scalp discomfort, unexpected hair growth, or temporary shedding of hair.

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Rogaine is the only topical ingredient approved by the Food and Drug Administration for regrowing hair. It can help treat androgenetic alopecia (also known as male or female pattern hair loss (FPHL)).

Researchers are still researching its potential to treat other conditions of hair loss, like chemotherapy-induced hair loss and alopecia areata.

By age 50, approximately 40% of women will experience some degree of frontal pattern hair loss (FPHL). This type of thinning usually begins as a gradual thinning around the part in their hair and becomes wider over time.

FPHL is believed to be largely genetic in origin, and estrogen levels play a role since FPHL becomes more prevalent after menopause.

Rogaine is typically considered a safe treatment with few side effects for women. Continue reading to discover more about these potential complications as well as alternative treatment options.

1. Contact Dermatitis

The most frequent side effect experienced when taking Rogaine is contact dermatitis on the scalp, which typically develops within minutes to hours after application and causes symptoms such as:

Rogaine can cause itching, flaking skin, redness, irritation, and burning when applied to a small part of your scalp for 24 hours. Before using it all over your head for the first time, test if any symptoms develop on a small area first and wait 24 hours to observe any effects before applying the cream evenly throughout.

2. Unwanted Hair Growth

Rogaine may cause unwanted facial hair growth when inhaled or come into contact with it.

Women tend to experience more unwanted hair growth than men, though the exact cause remains unknown. Studies have reported that between 3 and 51 percent of female participants experienced unwanted growth.

On average, it takes 8 weeks for new hair growth to become visible.

Rarely, people may develop generalized hypertrichosis—an increase in hair growth elsewhere that is not directly exposed to treatment. This condition tends to occur more commonly among adolescents and children.

3. Temporary hair shedding

Rogaine may cause a type of temporary hair loss known as minoxidil-induced telogen effluvium.

Your hair goes through four stages of growth.

Rogaine can cause two distinct phases: Anagen, the growing phase
catagen, transition phase
telogen, resting phase
exogen, shedding phase
In addition to stimulating the growth phase, Rogaine also shortens the resting period, which leads to increased shedding—typically 2–8 weeks after treatment begins.

An earlier 2011 study conducted by Trusted Source revealed that hair shedding occurred in 17.5 percent of women taking a 2 percent solution of minoxidil twice daily and in 12.5% of those taking 5 percent minoxidil once daily.

4. Low blood pressure

Rogaine typically has no impact on your blood pressure, though some individuals may experience more severe symptoms.

A 2015 case study published on Trusted Source highlighted a patient who experienced low blood pressure after using an extremely strong minoxidil cream for 12 weeks. After discontinuing use of the cream, his blood pressure returned to normal levels.

It should be noted, however, that the preparation used in this study contained more than twice the concentration of minoxidil compared to over-the-counter foam.

5. Potential Fetal Development Impairment

Rogaine has been classified by the FDA as a category C pregnancy drug, meaning there hasn't been enough human testing done to prove it's safe for fetal development, and animal studies have suggested potential risks.

Breastfeeding women should avoid Rogaine due to its potential to pass into breast milk.

6. Allergy Symptoms

Although rare, an allergic reaction to Rogaine can occur. Signs usually manifest quickly and include:

You could be allergic to minoxidil itself or another ingredient found in Rogaine called propylene glycol. If you're sensitive to propylene glycol, try using the foam form of Rogaine, which doesn't contain this ingredient. However, if it turns out you are allergic to minoxidil itself, discontinue use immediately.

7. Headaches

Studies have revealed that between 2 and 7 percent of women experience headaches while taking Rogaine.

8. Heart palpitations

A 2011 study Trusted Source discovered that around 3.5 percent of women experienced heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat. People with cardiovascular issues should consult their doctor before taking Rogaine.

9. Other Potential Symptoms

Other reported symptoms with an unknown incidence rate include:

No nausea
Changes in hair texture or color

Rogaine may interact with certain medications for women.

 Minoxidil, an oral medication, helps lower blood pressure. Although topically applied minoxidil usually has a minimal impact on your pulse, if you take diuretics or hypotensives, it could lead to low blood pressure, resulting in dizziness or fainting.

Guanethidine may help control your blood pressure, so the FDA recommends that you visit a hospital the first time you use minoxidil to monitor changes in your readings.

Alternatives to Rogaine for Women

Rogaine and other brands of minoxidil are the only FDA-approved medications to treat female hair loss.

Finasteride, an oral medication approved by the FDA for men over 18 to treat hair loss, is often prescribed to postmenopausal women with female pattern hair loss (FPHL) (Trusted Source), but should never be taken without medical guidance. As always, finasteride should only be taken under medical supervision.

Finasteride can be especially hazardous for women who are pregnant, as it may harm male fetuses.

Other potential treatments for female hair loss may include:

Targeting the Cause In some cases, hair loss may be caused by an easily treatable condition like a thyroid hormone imbalance. Your doctor can help determine if it's genetic or something else altogether.
Wearing Wigs.  Many women who are suffering from balding opt to wear a wig to conceal their hair loss and provide some coverage.
Making dietary changes If your balding is due to a nutritional deficiency, an overall healthy diet may help stimulate hair growth. Focus on foods rich in protein, vitamin A, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C for the best results.
Undergoing a hair transplant Follicular unit transplantation and follicular unit extraction are two methods for hair restoration that take follicles from one part of your scalp and use them to fill in balding areas on another.
If you're worried about hair loss, consult with a doctor before beginning Rogaine treatment. Your physician can rule out other causes of hair loss that could be treatable, such as low thyroid hormone levels or nutritional deficiencies.

Additionally, it is wise to visit your doctor if:

Are your symptoms of hair loss sudden, itching or burning in the head, falling out in clumps or patches on the scalp, or having bald patches? These could be signs that your body is going through a transition period.