Minoxidil scalp preparations for women (Regaine for Women)

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A scalp preparation for hair thinning in women who have a family history of hair loss.

Make sure your skin and scalp are dry before you apply the preparation.

Wash your hands well after applying minoxidil.
Used forHereditary hair loss in women aged 18-65 years
Also calledRegaine® for Women Regular Strength; Regaine® for Women Once a day
Available asScalp solution and scalp foam

Many men develop hair loss at some stage - this is called male pattern baldness. The condition is caused by a combination of hereditary (genetic) and hormonal factors. Some women develop a similar type of hereditary hair loss, which starts gradually, spreading from the crown of the head. This type of hair loss in women is more common after the menopause, and can be distressing.

Hair is made in hair follicles. A hair normally grows from each hair follicle for about three years. It is then shed, and a new hair grows from the follicle. In women who have this type of hair loss, the affected hair follicles gradually become smaller than normal. Each new hair that grows is thinner and shed more quickly than before. This eventually leads to a much smaller hair follicle and a thin hair that does not grow out to the skin surface. Treatment with a minoxidil preparation rubbed into the scalp can help to prevent further hair loss in some people, although it is not fully understood how it works. Benefit from the treatment is only maintained for as long as the preparation is used.

There are two minoxidil preparations available which are suitable for a woman to use. They are not available on the NHS, but you can buy them without a prescription. Minoxidil 5% scalp foam can be bought from pharmacies, and minoxidil 2% scalp solution can be bought both from pharmacies and other retail outlets.

There are minoxidil scalp preparations available which are only suitable for men to use. There is a separate medicine leaflet called Minoxidil scalp preparations for men which gives more information about these.

To make sure that this is the right treatment for you, before you start using minoxidil on your scalp, it is important that you speak with a doctor or pharmacist:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are not sure what is causing your loss of hair.
  • If the skin on your scalp is sore, or if you have a skin condition which affects your scalp.
  • If you have a heart condition, blood vessel disease, or high blood pressure.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a skin preparation, or to any other medicine.
  • If you are using other skin preparations or taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about minoxidil, and will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from using it
  • Make sure your hair and scalp are dry before you apply minoxidil. It is recommended that you leave about an hour between washing your hair and applying the preparation.
  • If you are using minoxidil solution (brand name Regaine® for Women Regular Strength), there will be a spray pump applicator and an extended spray-tip applicator inside the pack. The spray pump applicator is suitable for applying the solution to large areas, whereas the additional extended spray tip is needed for applying the solution to small areas. Six sprays of the pump release a 1 ml dose. After each spray, gently rub in the solution by massaging your scalp with your fingers. Apply 1 ml (six pumps of spray) twice a day, preferably morning and evening. Remember to wash your hands after using the solution so it doesn't get on to other areas of your skin, or on to other people.
  • If you are using minoxidil foam (brand name Regaine® for Women Once a day), apply 1 g of foam (half a capful) to the affected area of your scalp once a day. To do this, turn the can upside down and direct the nozzle in to your hand. Press the nozzle until you have the equivalent of half a capful of foam in your hand. Use your fingertips to gently massage the foam into the affected area of scalp. Remember to wash your hands after using the foam so it doesn't get on to other areas of your skin, or on to other people.
  • If you forget to use your minoxidil preparation at the usual time, do not worry, just apply it as normal when it is next due. Only use the correct amount - do not double up to make up for missing an application.
  • Do not use minoxidil on any areas of your scalp which are inflamed or sore. This is because it could be absorbed into your body and cause unwanted effects such as feeling faint, chest pain, or a rapid heartbeat. Also, do not use the preparation on any other areas of your body.
  • Your hair growth should start to improve within 2-3 months, although it can take up to a year for you to notice the full benefit. The new hair may be fine and downy to begin with, but this should improve.
  • You will need to continue treatment to maintain the re-growth of your hair. When you stop using the preparation, the hair that has re-grown is likely to disappear over 3-4 months.
  • Regaine® preparations contain an alcohol which may be irritating to sensitive areas of skin. Be careful not to get any of the preparation into your eyes or mouth, or on to any broken areas of skin or cuts. If this does happen, wash the area well with water.
  • Do not apply any plasters or bandages over any area which has been treated with minoxidil.
  • Keep the preparation away from any flames or sparks - it is flammable.
  • Minoxidil is not effective for everyone. If you feel there is no improvement after 12 months of using the solution, you should stop using it. If you are using minoxidil foam, you should stop using it after 24 weeks if there is no improvement.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with minoxidil scalp preparations. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Side-effects from minoxidil scalp foam/solution
What can I do if I experience this?
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Skin irritation or itching, dry skin, redness, allergic-type reactionsIf this continues, stop using minoxidil
Loss of hair after 2-6 weeks of treatmentYou may notice an increased loss of hair initially, but this should only last for about two weeks. If it continues after this time, stop using minoxidil
Feeling faint or dizzyIf this continues, stop using minoxidil
Chest pains, rapid heartbeatStop using minoxidil
Increased weight, fluid retentionIf troublesome, speak with a doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to minoxidil, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

This preparation is for use on the skin only. If someone swallows some of it, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
28476 (v2)
Last Checked:
04/04/2016
Next Review:
04/04/2019
The Information Standard - certified member

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