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Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss: Uses, Dosage, Results, Side Effects
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on March 26, 2024

Oral Minoxidil is a promising treatment for many types of hair loss. While Minoxidil is more widely used, oral Minoxidil is still always or often recommended by more than a quarter of hair loss specialists [1].

In this ultimate guide to oral Minoxidil for hair loss, you’ll find out everything you need to know about taking Minoxidil tablets to stimulate hair growth, including:

  • How oral Minoxidil works.
  • Which types of hair loss you can treat with Minoxidil tablets.
  • Side effects and results of oral Minoxidil.
Table of Contents

What is oral Minoxidil and how does it treat hair loss?

Minoxidil is a drug originally developed to treat high blood pressure, but it is now also used off-label to slow hair loss and promote regrowth in those with certain types of alopecia [2].

Oral Minoxidil works through various mechanisms:

  • It dilates the blood vessels around the body, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the hair follicles.
  • It advances hair follicles through the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle and into the anagen (growth) phase.
  • Minoxidil can prolong the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle.
Chart of the normal hair growth cycle
Phases of the hair growth cycle.

Which types of hair loss can Minoxidil tablets help with?

Oral Minoxidil can help treat the following types of hair loss [3]:

Results are more mixed for alopecia areata patients, especially in the case of severe alopecia areata [3-4]. However, combining oral Minoxidil with certain JAK inhibitors may reduce bald spots [5].

What dose of oral Minoxidil works for hair loss?

Various doses of oral Minoxidil have been shown to be effective in treating hair loss, ranging from 0.25mg to 5mg per day [3, 6]. However, none of these doses have yet been licensed for hair loss.

No matter which dose you use, you need to use oral Minoxidil consistently for at least three to six months to see a sustained impact on your hair.

One study found a noticeable increase in hair diameter and density in groups with just a 1mg difference in their daily dose of oral Minoxidil [7]. However, this also increased the risk of side effects.

Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss: Uses, Dosage, Results, Side Effects, Wimpole Clinic

Oral Minoxidil results: before and after

Exploring clinical before and after Minoxidil photos will help you see what results you can expect to see after using oral Minoxidil for hair growth.

In one study of low-dose Minoxidil, researchers found a distinct improvement in hair density after 24 weeks of taking 0.25mg Minoxidil daily [6]:

Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss: Uses, Dosage, Results, Side Effects, Wimpole Clinic

A six month study also found a reduction in the size of the thinning areas after 12 weeks and 24 weeks when taking 5mg oral Minoxidil daily [8]:

5mg of oral Minoxidil for 3 months
results of oral Minoxidil use after 6 months

5mg of daily Minoxidil also led to significant improvements for this 28-year-old male pattern baldness patient after just three months of use [9]:

Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss: Uses, Dosage, Results, Side Effects, Wimpole Clinic

How effective is oral Minoxidil?

These photos show that Minoxidil tablets can create visible results. But how effective is oral Minoxidil according to clinical research?

In one study of 16 male pattern baldness patients took a 2.5mg or 5mg daily dose of oral Minoxidil for hair loss [9]. Researchers found clinical improvements in all patients, with 37.5% showing marked improvement. Five patients experienced hypertrichosis (excessive body hair growth) as a result of the treatment.

Another study of 30 male patients showed that a 5mg dose of Minoxidil could boost hair count after just 12 weeks of treatment, with further improvements after 24 weeks [8]. 43% of patients had excellent improvements, but 93% experienced hypertrichosis.

A systematic review of multiple studies concluded there isn’t enough evidence to recommend the use of oral Minoxidil for hair loss [3]. While it appears to help some patients, much of the current research is of relatively low quality. Some studies have been funded by pharmaceutical companies, raising questions about the impartiality of the results.

Is oral Minoxidil better than topical Minoxidil?

Unlike oral Minoxidil, topical Minoxidil is a licensed hair loss treatment in the UK. That’s because it has a strong effectiveness and safety profile, with fewer significant side effects than the oral version.

One comparative research study shows that oral Minoxidil may lead to slightly higher rates of regrowth than topical Minoxidil, with hair density increasing by 12% and 7.2% respectively [10]. This small difference means that topical Minoxidil is generally a much safer bet.

Who can use Minoxidil tablets for hair growth?

Oral Minoxidil is an off-label hair loss treatment, so every patient needs to be individually assessed for suitability before it’s prescribed.

In general, oral Minoxidil can be used by men and women, provided they’re not at risk of cardiovascular events like heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke. Risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity

Your doctor should check you’re a good candidate for oral Minoxidil before prescribing it.

Oral Minoxidil side effects: Are Minoxidil tablets safe?

Oral Minoxidil is associated with some significant side effects. These include:

  • Hypertrichosis (excessive body and facial hair growth)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fluid retention
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Headaches
  • Swelling in the face and feet
  • Insomnia

While it’s rare for these side effects to have a lasting or serious impact on your daily life, they can pose risks for certain patients. So if you have a pre-existing condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, it’s important to tell your doctor about this.

The effect of oral Minoxidil on blood pressure

Taking oral Minoxidil can lower your blood pressure. This can be dangerous in some patients, so it’s important to discuss this with your doctor and have your blood pressure monitored regularly.

How long does oral Minoxidil shedding last?

Oral Minoxidil doesn’t always cause the temporary Minoxidil hair shedding associated with topical Minoxidil [11].

If you do experience some shedding when you start taking Minoxidil tablets, it usually lasts no more than eight weeks [12].

Does oral Minoxidil work for beard growth?

Minoxidil tablets can stimulate facial hair growth around the beard, as well as in areas that were hairless before treatment [2]. This can even happen as a side effect of taking oral Minoxidil for scalp hair growth.

While this is a manageable and even desirable side effect for some men, it can be distressing for female hair loss patients. If you start to grow facial hair when taking Minoxidil, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of this medication.

Does oral Minoxidil affect body hair?

Yes, oral Minoxidil can cause you to grow more hair around your body. This is known as hypertrichosis, and it’s a common side effect of taking oral Minoxidil.

Oral Minoxidil for women

Oral Minoxidil may be a suitable hair loss treatment for women. Unlike other oral medications, such as Finasteride, Minoxidil doesn’t impact your hormones. So it may be a safe alternative to Finasteride for women.

In one study of female pattern hair loss patients, oral Minoxidil increased hair density by 12% on average [10].

However, there are some negative side effects. Some women find that oral Minoxidil causes them to grow more hair on their faces and body. This can also affect children:

excessive facial and body hair in children
Female children with facial/body hair growth following accidental exposure to systemic Minoxidil [13].

Oral Finasteride vs oral Minoxidil

Finasteride is the most popular treatment for male hair loss. Unlike Minoxidil, it works by blocking production of dihydrotestosterone, the hormone responsible for male pattern baldness.

Both treatments are effective, and you can even combine Minoxidil with Finasteride to get better results (under advice from your doctor).

One study found that 5mg oral Minoxidil was slightly more effective than 1mg Finasteride (the standard dose for hair loss) [14].

Do you need a prescription for Minoxidil tablets?

Yes, you need a prescription for oral Minoxidil. It’s important for a medical professional to check your suitability for the medication before you start taking it.

How to get an oral Minoxidil prescription

The best way to get an oral Minoxidil prescription for hair loss is to see a medically trained trichologist. They can assess your suitability and help you decide on the right treatment for your hair loss.

At the Wimpole Clinic, our specialist doctors can help you formulate a hair loss treatment plan that will improve your symptoms. In addition to oral Minoxidil, we can prescribe Finasteride, Dutasteride, and other treatments to slow hair loss and promote regrowth. We can also advise on lifestyle changes and surgical hair restoration options.

Book a consultation at one of our hair loss clinic locations today to start your hair restoration journey.

Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss: Uses, Dosage, Results, Side Effects, Wimpole Clinic

Oral Minoxidil FAQs

Find out more about oral Minoxidil for hair loss in these frequently asked questions.

Oral Minoxidil has a half-life of around 4.2 hours [15]. That means it takes just over four hours for the amount of Minoxidil circulating in your body to reduce by half.

However, Minoxidil can continue to work for up to 24 hours. Minoxidil accumulates in the body with continued use, so it can take longer for Minoxidil to completely leave your system.

No studies have yet investigated the link between oral Minoxidil and male fertility. More research is needed to determine the impact of Minoxidil on fertility.

Some studies have investigated the link between Finasteride and fertility.

Compared with DHT-blocking hair loss drugs like Finasteride and Dutasteride, oral Minoxidil is less likely to cause erectile dysfunction [16]. DHT blockers work on a hormonal level, while Minoxidil dilates the blood vessels.

Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)Updated on March 26, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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