Minoxidil (Rogaine) is an FDA approved medication originally developed to treat high blood pressure. However, it was also found to be effective in treating hair loss. That said, minoxidil is not a cure for baldness. The way in which minoxidil stimulates hair growth is not known.
Minoxidil is available without a prescription in varying strengths in liquid and foam formats (Solution: 2 and 5%; Foam: 5%). It is applied directly to your scalp, typically for several months.
There are side effects associated with minoxidil, some of which include scalp itching, dryness, scaling, flaking, irritation, and burning. Severe adverse reactions include weight gain; swelling of the face, ankles, hands, or stomach; difficulty breathing (especially when lying down); rapid heartbeat; chest pain; lightheadedness. If you experience any of these symptoms you should contact your physician immediately.