Two topical medications have stimulated a great deal of attention among physicians, the public, and the media: minoxidil and tretinoin, both of which are aimed at retarding or reversing the inevitable aging process.
Topical 2% minoxidil is the first medical treatment documented to stimulate hair growth in male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). Enthusiasm for this treatment seems to be exceeding its demonstrated clinical effectiveness. Studies of the ability of topical minoxidil to grow terminal (coarse, dark) scalp hair have been ongoing since 1979, when oral minoxidil was noted to induce hypertrichosis in patients treated for hypertension. There is no doubt that topical minoxidil is safe and can induce the growth of terminal hairs in some balding men. However, the more important question is not whether the hair growth is statistically significant but whether it causes satisfactory cosmetic improvement.
Topical minoxidil solution, in concentrations ranging from 1% to 5%, has been