Q: Please I need help. I used Minoxidil for hair growth but has been having unbearable side effects such head pain, change of body color, etc. I have gone to different hospitals but still no solution. Please, I want to know whether I can get assistance from you in order to have a lasting solution, thanks
A: Hi dear. Thanks for writing in. Sorry to hear about the problems you are facing with your medication. For those who do not know, this medication is used for the treatment of hair loss like baldness. A quick refresher course before we go into the remedies for the side effects of the medication.
Baldness is excessive hair loss from the scalp. It usually starts from thinning hair before it involves wider areas of hair loss.
How does this happen? Usually, a hair follicle produces hair and each hair grows from a follicle for as long as three years before it is shed and a new one produced. Testosterone is produced normally by the hair follicle and these follicles now convert testosterone to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In baldness, the hair follicles are overly sensitive to the effects of DHT causing the hair to thin out and also last less than the usual 3 years.
Now it is usually assumed that being bald is a sign of great virility but studies have shown that this is not true. Bald people do not have more than normal amounts of male sex hormones, their hair follicles are just more sensitive to the effects of the hormones.
Baldness runs in families and may start as early as late teens in some people with most men at 6o years of age having experienced some level of hair loss. It is, of course, more traumatic when it happens at an early age.
Treatment runs from doing nothing (always an option :D), wearing wigs or styling hair in such a way as to cover the bald patch if possible to surgery where individual hair strands are transplanted. Other treatment options include the use of medications like Finasteride (which prevents conversion of testosterone to DHT thus allow the hair follicles to enlarge back to normal) and Minoxidil. It usually take about 4 months for any effect to be noticed, though. There are still issues surrounding the effects of these drugs on fertility. The drugs do not work for everyone and work for only as long as one keeps taking them.
Common side effects of Minoxidil include palpitations, headaches and chest pain, skin irritation, dryness and itchiness. Less common side effects include fatigue, dizziness, acne (pimples), dark spots around the eye and excessive hair growth. Rare side effects (which require an immediate and emergency doctor’s visit) include severe chest pain, dizziness and rashes, changes in vision, weight gain, swelling of face, feet, hands etc. Scary as all of these side effects sound, not everyone experiences them and that is why it is always best to be guided by your medical doctor in using medications.
For the colour changes, your doctor may reduce the strength of the formulation (%) or the frequency of use and s/he may stop the use of the drug completely if this continues. Analgesics may be prescribed for the headaches but for symptoms like dizziness, chest pain and allergies (itching, redness, dry skin), the drug may be completely stopped.
So, I suggest you visit a specialist/teaching hospital with your medication so that a doctor will review you and advise on the best course of action.
All the best J