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Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Breastfeeding is an important part of being a new mom, but it can also be one of the most complicated. Because many things you put into your body have the potential to end up in your breast milk, many women wonder whether their medications are safe to use while breastfeeding. If you’ve been dealing with some hair loss, you may specifically be concerned about whether there are adverse effects of taking minoxidil during breastfeeding.
It’s a fair concern to have and, if we do say so, it’s a sign that you’re starting off parenting with the important things in mind.
Evidence does not currently show that there are many serious dangers associated with breastfeeding while on minoxidil, but there are some potential adverse effects that have been recorded that you’ll want to know about.
Let’s cover some of the important things you should keep in mind if you’re using minoxidil while breastfeeding.
Minoxidil does pose some health risks, but the risks of using minoxidil while breastfeeding aren’t as serious as you might have initially worried.
For context, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has limited data available about the breastfeeding risks associated with minoxidil use. Not many studies have been conducted, and most of the information we have is based on case reports.
What that means is our information is based on case reports and a few modest studies, so it’s important to remind you that, first and foremost, if you’re considering breastfeeding while on minoxidil, you should talk to a healthcare professional. They can guide you through balancing the risks and your individual needs, and they may have updated information.
That said, here’s what we know at the moment.
First, it’s possible that minoxidil can cause hypertrichosis, or excessive hair growth, to occur in some infants.
For instance, one mother who used topical minoxidil saw her infant develop facial hypertrichosis during the first months after birth. The hair was reported at two months of age, but after the mother discontinued use, the facial hair had disappeared by the time the baby was six months old.
That infant was born four weeks prematurely, and there were some missing details about the progression of the hair growth that left unanswered questions about the circumstances in which hypertrichosis happened here.
So, while it’s possible that hypertrichosis in this case was caused by the presence of minoxidil in breastmilk, there wasn’t adequate evidence collected to prove it.
Another mother, meanwhile, used oral minoxidil during pregnancy, and her breastfed infant experienced no noted side effects.
More importantly, however, the NLM does not have adequate information to make observations about the effect of minoxidil on breastfeeding and lactation as a process. In other words, there are inadequate studies to clarify the risks to your ability to produce milk in general. For someone who may have struggled with producing enough milk in the past, that may be another concern to bring up with a healthcare professional.
Some risks of minoxidil may come before birth actually occurs. While studies are few and far between, there is at least one instance where a woman using minoxidil has given birth to a baby with birth defects.
The baby of a 28-year-old woman who used a 2% topical minoxidil solution was found to have vascular, heart and brain abnormalities, which was reason enough to recommend that women not use minoxidil topical products during pregnancy.
Of course, birth defects are not related to lactation and breastfeeding, but this is a good reminder that minoxidil before birth isn’t a good idea either.
Some experts suggest that full-term infants could be less susceptible to issues related to minoxidil use, especially if it is delivered topically. But pretty much everyone agrees that due to the lack of information available, the safest route is to avoid minoxidil while breastfeeding, particularly if the nursing infant is very young or preterm.
So what should you use to treat hair loss while breastfeeding? It depends on the hair loss, and the cause of said hair loss.
One of the reasons you may be experiencing hair loss while breastfeeding is actually postpartum hair loss. Giving birth can be a cause of telogen effluvium, and in many cases, this type of hair loss will actually resolve itself over a period of a few months.
For other causes, there are better hair loss medications available. The NLM, for instance, recommends that patients consider alternative drugs, including:
But if you want to avoid medication entirely, certain types of hair loss can be treated by better attention to diet, exercise and other lifestyle elements of your holistic health profile.
One way to do that is to consider incorporating vitamins for hair health (we make some of these, by the way). Vitamins — particularly iron and folic acid, which are also found in pregnancy and prenatal vitamins — can promote better hair health if you have any nutritional deficiencies.
Another potential cause of hair loss is stress. If you want to get that under control, check out our guides to dealing with hair loss due to stress.
Here’s the big picture: hair loss may be temporary or permanent, but a newborn’s health can be an incredibly fragile thing. Whether or not to take minoxidil while breastfeeding is ultimately a decision for you to make with a healthcare professional’s help, after balancing the risks and benefits.
Hair loss while you’re breastfeeding isn’t the most unusual occurrence — in fact, some research even suggests that postpartum hair loss is a somewhat regular occurrence. If it’s sudden and immediate after your delivery date, it might be worth talking to your doctor about simply waiting for your body to recover.
However, if you’ve been struggling with hair loss for some time, or if it already was occurring during pregnancy, talking to a doctor about your options could lead to some treatments.
If you’re looking for the answers you need, we can help. Our hair health resources are a great place to start your learning process, and you can get in touch with healthcare professionals to take that research to the next level with us as well.
Your first months with your newborn are supposed to be a wonderful time. Get these problems addressed, so you can enjoy those precious moments while they last.
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