USING TOPICAL SCALP LOTIONS
SOME HELPFUL HINTS AND INSTRUCTIONS
Q: Should the lotion be across the whole scalp or mainly the areas that show recession?
A: For lotions such as minoxidil, focus your application on the sites of concern, however, this does depend on the diagnosis as some conditions tend to develop over time, so your trichologist may direct you to cover the areas that the hair loss normally progresses next.
For example, for androgenetic alopecia in men, there is typically recession at the temples but may not yet be on the vertex, however, some application on the latter even can be helpful when developing a clients long-term treatment pathway.
The key here is to discuss with your trichologist, they are there to support your health journey and provide regular and up-to-date expert advice.
Remember to follow the amount you need to apply (and ensure you are measuring correctly each time, do not rely on an estimate) as this ensures you do not apply too little or too much. Absorption into the body may affect the heart and blood vessels and cause unwanted effects.
Q: Should I massage the lotion into the scalp or just apply and leave it?
A: Ideally, gently massage into the scalp, and thoroughly wash hands with soap afterwards. Ensure your scalp is completely dry before application. Do not dry your scalp with a hairdryer as this can make the treatment less effective.
For any prescription/ topical scalp lotion, please be aware of the dangers of the lotion getting near the eyes or open wounds. Take care to apply, and watch carefully for any habits such as itching, picking or rubbing the hair/ scalp area afterwards and then accidentally transfer to the body/ eyes, or externally to someone else/ food items etc. Eye infections can occur for instance when rubbing your eyes after touching the scalp.
Q: I have long hair, does the lotion damage the hair shaft? What should I do?
A: The lotion shouldn’t run onto the whole length of the hair but will clearly touch the roots. However, this shouldn’t damage the roots, perhaps dry it out due to the concentration of solvents/ penetration enhancing ingredients such as ethanol and propylene glycol.
Use your regular moisturising/ conditioning hair care products and everything should be fine.
Q: Where should I store the bottles/ containers of scalp lotion?
A: Store your lotion at room temperature, in the original closed container, or if you have transferred to a different container, keep that tightly sealed. Most containers won’t have child-locks so please store away from children. Keep lotions away from moisture (e.g. showers) and direct light and heat.
Remember to shake the bottle well before use, and keep bottles tightly shut between applications. Keep the bottles clean and free from drippage.
Your lotion will likely have a use by date – do remember to follow this.
Q: When should I apply the lotion?
A: There are different school of thoughts for application timing. Pharmacists often suggest applying at night, while many trichologists, dermatologists and doctors see good results by applying in the morning.
Either way, there are some guidelines that can be followed. The aim is to have the application on the scalp ideally for 12 hours, but at least 4 hours.
Ensure the scalp is completely dry after application before going to bed or doing exercise/ styling hair.
If applied in the morning, there is no need to re-apply in the evening unless the hair is washed.
Try to keep to a habit – either mornings or evenings rather than regularly switching.
Q: Do I need to wash my hair daily?
A: There is no need to wash hair daily, although some people rinse daily as they find it sticky. You can re-apply every day without washing, and it will still penetrate.
Most people wash their hair around twice a week, and sometimes rinse occasionally rather than wash.
Do not shampoo your hair until at least four hairs after application.
Q: Is it ok for my bedding to sleep with the lotion on my scalp?
A: In theory, if the lotion is completely dry before going to bed it should be ok. This is one reason for applying in the morning rather than night. It’s important that we limit the transfer from the scalp to the pillowcase, particularly, as the eyeline area can also touch the pillowcase.
We suggest changing the pillowcase 2-3 times per week and turn the pillowcase over nightly.
Using a satin/ silk turban/ wrap can be helpful, but not for those with fragile hairlines as the friction can damage or break new hair growth. Discuss with your trichologist what option would suit you best.
Remember, lotions can cause staining to your clothing.
Q: Can I apply the lotion every other day rather than every day?
A: It is important to follow the prescription/ instructions. Of course, if an occasional day is skipped due to circumstances, that is acceptable, but generally it is important to apply daily (or twice-daily) as per instructions.
Q: If I miss a day, should I apply double the dose on the following day?
A: No that isn’t necessary. Simply keep to your regular dose the next day or next application, never double dose.
Q: Do I need to shampoo the lotion off? Or can I just rinse?
A: It is best to shampoo to avoid the lotion ‘running-off’ and spreading to the face. If rinsing, be careful of keeping the hair away from the face etc. However, there is no need to daily shampoo, you can re-apply.
Q: I have just been prescribed antibiotics' while I am using the lotion it that ok?
A: Lotions such as minoxidil should not negatively interact with antibiotics. However, we would recommend you advise your doctor what prescription/ lotion you are using before starting your antibiotic course and vice-versa advise your trichologist of the antibiotic prescription to ensure you have been given the most up-to-date advice.
Q: I am going on holiday; can I leave the lotion at home for a week and begin using it again when I return?
A: It is fine to skip a day across a month, but not for a whole week as the treatment loses its efficacy. The hair follicles need constant stimulation from the lotion ingredients, otherwise hair growth gained can be lost.
Q: Can I be exposed to the sun after applying the lotion?
A: Yes, but we would always recommend taking appropriate sun protection actions. For example, a straw hat (protective but still breathable) can be helpful but remember it may not completely protect you in direct sunlight. Some additional advice can be found from the Skin Cancer Foundation.
If you have had sun exposure to your scalp or any other irritation, do not apply anything until your scalp has fully recovered.
Q: Is it ok to swim while using the lotion?
A: Ideally, we would suggest you use a swimming cap to ensure the ingredients do not enter the general swimming water, including outdoors. This is more preventative and respectful for other swimmers and water-life.
For example, research shows the negative impact of general sunscreens making their way into marine life, so we know that scalp lotions are unlikely to be environmentally friendly.
It is best not to apply immediately before swimming, or to immediately wash off after swimming to avoid ‘running-off’ onto the face.
Q: Should I continue to apply the lotion after coming up with a rash/ irritation?
A: Seek medical/ trichologist advice immediately if any rash or other side-effect appears on or around the scalp area after commencing application of the lotion. It may not be the lotion, but we always encourage clients to be cautious. You will have been asked for a full medical history beforehand and this includes allergies and intolerances.
Scalp lotions can have some side effects, mainly rare instances, but do read the instructions carefully. For example, effects such as itching, or inflammation might occur. Carefully examine your scalp on application – we recommend taking photographs before you begin, and regularly throughout your treatment. This not only provides evidence of hair growth, but any side-effects that may emerge.
This is a general information sheet to support your treatment pathway but does not replace personalised medical guidance – we would always encourage you to discuss any concern with your trichologist and/ or doctor. No question is daft – our trichologists would be delighted to hear from you!