Safety and efficacy of topical minoxidil in the management of androgenetic alopecia

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1987 Mar;16(3 Pt 2):677-85. doi: 10.1016/s0190-9622(87)70087-5.


Of 149 subjects with androgenetic alopecia, 102 completed 1 year of a double-blind, randomized study comparing 2% minoxidil and 3% minoxidil solutions for safety and efficacy. One third of the subjects used a vehicle placebo for the first 4 months and then switched to 3% minoxidil. At 12 months the 2% minoxidil group switched to a 3% solution. During months 5 to 12 a steady increase in terminal hair counts occurred to an equal degree within the 2% and 3% minoxidil groups and the 3% treatment group switched from placebo. Total hair counts at 12 months increased from a baseline mean of 63.5 to 180.6 in the 2% treatment group, from 61.0 to 179.9 in the 3% group, and from 65.0 to 191.1 in the placebo to 3% crossover group. Although all 102 subjects completing 12 months of the study thought that visible hair growth had resulted, 89 were considered by the investigators to have visible growth. Dense hair growth, defined as hair long enough to cut or comb, was present in 48 subjects by their own evaluation and in 33 subjects by investigator evaluation. There were no serious side effects. Two instances of allergic contact dermatitis and four of pruritus were attributed to use of the drug. Two individuals complained of impotence, which disappeared within a few days of discontinuation of topical minoxidil. This effect has not been reported during the use of minoxidil in its oral form (Loniten) for the treatment of hypertension.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use
  • Minoxidil / toxicity*
  • Random Allocation
  • Time Factors


  • Minoxidil