Does minoxidil affect the kidneys?

Minoxidil can potentially have some impact on the cardiovascular system, which indirectly could affect the kidneys.

Minoxidil has increased the heart rate and increased fluid retention in some rare instances. These effects are primarily caused by the oral form of minoxidil, which was originally developed as an antihypertensive medication. The augmented fluid retention can potentially strain the cardiovascular system and, by extension, impact our kidney function negatively.

Does topical minoxidil affect the kidneys?

However, topical minoxidil, which is most commonly used for hair loss treatment, is thought to have fewer systemic effects compared to the oral form. That’s because topical application is intended to minimize the absorption of minoxidil into the bloodstream, which leads to less systematic absorption.

This reduces the potential for systemic aftereffects such as itchiness, rashes, but also kidney stones and other related issues.

Does Rogaine affect kidney health?

Since Rogaine is a brand that uses minoxidil as its active ingredient, it can cause some impact on our cardiovascular system and the kidneys. Although those should be considered rare occurrences.

It can lead to fluid retention and an increased heart rate which can be detrimental to our kidney function. Still, these side effects should be considered outliers, and not the norm.

Once again, these detrimental outcomes are much less likely when using topical instead of oral minoxidil due to the decreased amount of systematic absorption involved.

Can minoxidil cause kidney failure?

Illustration of two kidneys in the human body with the words “kidney failure” written in white letters next to it.

There is no strong evidence to suggest that minoxidil directly causes kidney failure, especially the topical form. However, the oral form of minoxidil can have cardiovascular effects that might indirectly impact kidney function in certain individuals.

Minoxidil, particularly in its oral form, can cause side effects like fluid retention, increased heart rate, and changes in blood pressure. These effects could potentially put strain on the cardiovascular system and impact kidney function if not well-managed, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart or kidney conditions.

One study looked at the long-term effects of applying minoxidil in people with refractory hypertension and renal failure.

They concluded that the renal function did not show any significant modification during the eighteen months of the study, with the renal function not showing any significant deterioration over the years.

Does minoxidil increase creatinine?

Creatinine is a waste product that is produced by the muscles and excreted by the kidneys. Elevated levels of creatinine in the blood can indicate impaired kidney function.

While some medications can possibly impact kidney function and thus creatinine levels, the available information does not strongly suggest that minoxidil significantly alters creatinine levels. Most of the concerns related to minoxidil are focused on its cardiovascular effects, particularly with the oral form, as mentioned earlier.

Yet, one particular study examining the renal function in patients using minoxidil long-term found that the serum creatinine concentration increased by more than 1 mg/dl in 9/20 patients.

Can minoxidil cause kidney stones?

Illustration of two kidneys with one kidney having kidney stones.

It’s unlikely that minoxidil directly causes kidney stones. Nevertheless, it is a possible contributor in those with antecedent kidney problems. Kidney stones typically form due to a combination of factors including genetics, dietary habits, hydration status, and other medical conditions.

However, the oral form of minoxidil can lead to fluid retention as one of its side effects. This increased fluid retention could theoretically contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals, particularly if they are not maintaining adequate hydration.

One specific phase IV clinical study of FDA data performed by eHealthMe found that kidney stones are most commonly found in males between 40–49 years old who’ve been using the medication for longer than one month.

24 people (0.13%) of the 17,930 people announcing negative aftereffects report having kidney stones as a side effect of using minoxidil.

Recognizing symptoms of kidney disease

Learning to recognize, and identify the possible symptoms of kidney disease can help save your life by making you get the treatment you need.

Symptoms that you have kidney disease.

Possible symptoms are:

  • Foamy urine
  • Changes in urination pattern
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold when others are warm
  • Chest pain and shortness of breath
  • Kidney pain
  • Swelling
  • Rashes and itchy skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Metallic taste in the mouth

Final note

Minoxidil is unlikely to cause kidney issues such as kidney stones or failure. That’s especially true when using topical over oral minoxidil since there’s less systematized absorption happening.

Still, I would advise people to refrain from using minoxidil when already dealing with preexisting kidney or cardiovascular problems. If you do get one, or more of the above symptoms, then you should immediately talk with a doctor while quitting minoxidil immediately just to be safe.