There is a wealth of different options available to deal with male pattern baldness today, and for many people medication is the first port of call. However, there have been reports recently of some unusual side effects associated with hair loss medication.
One of the most popular over-the-counter treatments available to treat hair loss is Rogaine, real name minoxidil. The product is usually sold at a strength of either 5% or 2% minoxidil, with the 5% product branded “extra strength”.
In November 2014, a man visited his GP, reporting dizziness and two incidents of fainting after visiting the GP. He was otherwise very healthy and exercised several times a week. Several tests were performed to see if there was a problem with his heart, or a hormone imbalance, but all came back normal. He did however have low blood pressure, which can be a cause of fainting.
On further questioning, it transpired that the symptoms first began at the same time as the man had begun using a product to prevent his hair from thinning. He had visited a specialist hair loss clinic and been prescribed a formulation of 12% minoxidil. That’s more than twice the strength of the “extra strength” version available over the counter.
What’s the link?
Minoxidil was first developed to treat high blood pressure, and it was during trials of the drug (which, as a blood pressure treatment is taken orally) that it was found to be producing fuller hair in the test subjects. This led to the development of the topical formula marketed as Rogaine, which is designed to treat hair loss.
As an oral medication to treat high blood pressure, fainting and dizzy spells are known side effects of minoxidil, however it is unlikely for these to be effected by the drug when applied topically. Experts concluded that because the man was using such a high concentration of Rogaine in a once-a-day formulation, it was being broken down by the body all at once, meaning it was having a direct effect on the heart. Exercise was causing the man to become dehydrated, which would make him extra sensitive to the blood-pressure-lowering abilities of minoxidil.
Read the small print
If you’re suffering from hair loss or hair thinning, it can be very tempting to plump for the first product that promises to restore your hair, but it is always worthwhile to do your homework and read up on the side effects of any medication, whether it be topical or oral. Hair transplant surgery or scalp micropigmentation can also offer a viable alternative to medication.