How to use a low dose of oral minoxidil for hair growth

Topical minoxidil is best known for its capacity to regrow lost hair and to slow down hair loss. But using minoxidil orally for hair growth can also be effective, albeit used less frequently.

As you will see in this article, empirical evidence supports the notion that a low dosage of oral minoxidil can be effective to combat hair loss.

Let me explain how to use a low dose of oral minoxidil for hair growth, and what the most appropriate dosage is for both men and women.

 

Is it effective to use oral minoxidil for hair growth?

Oral minoxidil does indeed work to slow down hair loss, and even to regrow hair in individuals suffering from androgenetic alopecia.

However, even though taking minoxidil orally for hair growth starts working immediately, it can take quite some time before your hair growth becomes noticeable.

Nevertheless, you should notice some significant effects around the 3-6 month mark.

 

Is it effective to use oral Rogaine for hair loss?

Since Rogaine is a brand that uses the active ingredient minoxidil, it is effective to use oral Rogaine for hair loss.

But again, while oral Rogaine for hair loss does start working instantly, the results might not show for a few weeks.

 

Is oral minoxidil for hair growth safe?

Image of a laptop with the sentence, 'is it safe?' Written on the screen.

Low dose minoxidil for hair loss

A low dose of minoxidil for hair loss is typically considered safe. Even a low dose of oral minoxidil for hair loss can usually be used safely and without any significant side effects.

However, it should be noted that taking minoxidil orally for hair loss is not FDA approved for hair growth. But clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of low dose minoxidil for hair loss(0.25 to 2.5 mg daily) for hair regrowth in women.

In men, the optimal dosage for hair regrowth was between 1.25 to 5 mg a day.

Nevertheless, there are still some important and significant possible side effects with respect to taking oral minoxidil for hair growth.

Taking minoxidil orally for hair loss leads to more systematic absorption than topical minoxidil does. Topical minoxidil only gets absorbed by the specifically applied area. But with oral minoxidil, the entire dosage gets absorbed and distributed to all places in our body. Hence, the increased systematic absorption that takes place when using oral minoxidil.

This means that oral minoxidil can lead to a greater amount of side effects than topical minoxidil does. Not to mention that those side effects are typically more intense in nature as well.

However, a low dose of oral minoxidil for hair loss is unlikely to cause as many side effects as a high dose of oral minoxidil would. And it is thus possible to use oral minoxidil for hair regrowth.

High dose of oral minoxidil to treat hypertension

Higher dosages are reserved for treating hypertension.

These dosages are typically between 10-40 mg per day.

 

Is oral Rogaine for hair loss safe?

Since Rogaine is a brand that uses the active ingredient minoxidil, the same facts apply to Rogaine as any other generic hair loss brand that uses minoxidil.

A low dose of oral Rogaine for hair loss is generally seen as being safe.

In men, the optimal dose to combat hair loss is between 1.25-5 mg daily, women should use an even lower dosage that’s between 0.25-2.5 mg per day.

What’s essential to note is that taking high(er) doses of oral Rogaine for hair loss can lead to possible side effects such as the growth of unwanted body hair, and skin issues such as a red skin or skin rashes.

 

Oral minoxidil side effects

Potential oral minoxidil side effects are:

  • Excessive hair growth (Hypertrichosis)

    The most common side effect of oral minoxidil usage is hypertrichosis, which means excessive hair growth.

    Excessive hair growth can occur in both men and women.

    Excess hair growth can happen anywhere on the body. Ranging from the face, to the hands, to the chest, and even the feet.

    Hypertrichosis is more probable to happen at higher dosages, since there’s more systematic absorption of the product into the whole body. It is also much more likely to happen when using oral minoxidil instead of topical minoxidil for the growth of facial hair.

    It is especially annoying for women, but can sometimes be managed with hair removal methods.

    Quitting oral minoxidil will also result in the stop of excessive hair growth. This means that it’s usually not a permanent side effect if one stops using the drug. However, it can take some time before the hypertrichosis clears up since the minoxidil will stay in your system for a while.

  • Low blood pressure

    Oral minoxidil is originally an antihypertensive drug that’s used to control high blood pressure.

    But these higher oral dosages used to control high blood pressure can lead to a low blood pressure in some people if the dosage is too high.

    Hypotension is a possible side effects. And it’s possible for people suffering from hypotension to report dizziness and feeling light-headed.

  • Increased heart rate

    Minoxidil can cause a heightened heart rate at higher dosages. This typically doesn’t happen at lower dosage, but it’s still a possibility.

    Immediately consult your doctor when you experience a fast and/or irregular heart rate. Furthermore, instantly stop using minoxidil as it is possible that you’re experiencing a faster or irregular heart rate as a side effect of using oral minoxidil.

  • Temporary shedding

    Hair shedding is a naturally occurring phenomenon in every person, since we all go through the 4 different stages of hair growth. Eventually, shedding occurs to get rid of the older, less healthy hair to make room for new, healthy hair. This hair shedding is a continually ongoing process.

    Since minoxidil promotes the hair growth phase specifically, it means that you will go through the 4 stages of hair growth at a faster rate. Thus, it can seem that you are losing more hair than you would normally.

    For the first few weeks after you start using oral minoxidil, it can happen that you shed more hair than you usually do. That side effect typically subsides after 4-6 weeks.

  • Fluid retention

    Fluid retention can happen when using higher dosages.

    Fluid retention can happen around the eyes, but it’s also possible that your ankles will swell. This fluid retention is frequently worse in the morning, but gets better during the day, since moving around will increase blood circulation.

  • Headaches

    Hypotension (low blood pressure) can lead to experiencing headaches.

    This side effect tends to get better a few weeks after starting oral minoxidil treatment.

Instantly call the emergency services and immediately stop using oral minoxidil when experiencing:

  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Pericarditis
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breast tenderness

Always report your side effects to your doctor in order to figure out if the side effects are harmless, or if they should be taken seriously.

It’s possible that the oral minoxidil dosage needs to be adjusted, as everyone is different. Some can tolerate higher dosages without issues, and some can’t even tolerate low dosages well.

The adjustment of your oral minoxidil dosage should be done by a doctor, since they’re trained and educated to handle medication with care.

 
 
 

 

 

Why use oral minoxidil for hair growth over topical minoxidil?

Some people don’t respond to topical minoxidil because they lack the appropriate enzyme in their hair follicles to effectively turn the minoxidil into minoxidil sulfate (sulfotransferase).

That enzyme that’s responsible for turning the minoxidil into sulfotransferase is present in our liver and will trigger the oral minoxidil medication.

So even though we might not respond to topical minoxidil, we can still respond to oral minoxidil.[1]https://www.midlandskin.co.uk/conditions/minoxidil/

 

When to use oral minoxidil for hair growth instead of topical minoxidil?

Image of 100 oral minoxidil tablets.

A low dose of oral Minoxidil for hair loss can be considered if:

  • There’s no positive effect when using topical minoxidil for at least 3–6 months of consistent topical minoxidil appliance
  • Topical minoxidil causes multiple annoying side effects such as rash, skin irritation, flaking or more severe reactions such as allergy and heart palpitations
  • An individual has long hair and applying topical minoxidil causes poor hair quality such as dry, twisted hair that’s vulnerable to breaking
 

What's the appropriate oral minoxidil for hair growth dosage?

The appropriate dosage of oral minoxidil for hair growth isn’t precisely clear. Seeing as it’s no exact science and everyone reacts different to the product depending on their own genetic makeup.

Low dose of oral minoxidil for hair loss

Low dosages around 0.5-2.5 mg seem to be acceptable and effective for hair growth in women.[2]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34529341/

In men, the optimal dosage for hair regrowth was between 1.25 to 5 mg a day. These low dosages for men and women generally inducing little to no side effects.[3]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33660357/

The higher the dosage, the more and increasingly intense the side effects typically are.

The doses used to treat hypertension related problems are higher than those for hair growth. High dosages between 10-40 mg per day are usually reserved for hypertensive medication.

 

Studies about the effectiveness of oral minoxidil for hair growth

Our first study researched the efficacy and safety of oral minoxidil in patients with androgenetic alopecia.

Thirty men aged 24–59 years with AGA types III vertex to V were treated with oral minoxidil 5 mg once daily for 24 weeks.

Efficacy was evaluated by hair counts, hair diameter measurements, photographic assessment, and self-administered questionnaire. The safety of the treatment was closely monitored by means of physical examinations and laboratory investigations.

They came to the following conclusion:

Oral minoxidil 5 mg once daily effectively increased hair growth in our male patients with AGA and had a good safety profile in healthy subjects.

However, oral minoxidil should be used carefully with men who have severe hypertension and increased risk for cardiovascular events[4]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32970299/

The second study is a systematic review about the efficacy and safety of oral minoxidil treatment for hair loss.

A total of 17 studies with 634 patients were found and used to reach the following conclusion:

Oral minoxidil was found to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment alternative for healthy patients having difficulty with topical formulations.[5]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32622136/

Another systematic review examined a low dosage of oral minoxidil as a treatment for non-scarring alopecia.

They used 10 articles for review. This included a total of 19,218 patients (215 women and 19,003 men). The oral minoxidil dosages ranged from 0.25 to 5 mg daily to twice daily.

This is what they found out:

Oral minoxidil is a safe and successful treatment of androgenic alopecia and AA. In addition to its therapeutic benefits, practical advantages over topical minoxidil stem from improved patient compliance.[6]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32516434/

Our last study examined the effectiveness of oral minoxidil in androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium.

They reached the following results:

52.4% of patients demonstrated clinical improvement and 42.9% demonstrated stabilization.

There was a significant difference in clinical response between the patient and control group, p < 0.001. Retrospective study design.

These results suggest that oral minoxidil can be an effective treatment in androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium.[7]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35244759/

As we can see, taking minoxidil orally for hair loss is typically safe as long as it is a low dose.

 

Oral minoxidil for beard growth

Taking oral minoxidil for beard growth is not FDA approved, but can be effective at promoting facial hair development.

While oral minoxidil beard growth is an option and possibility, I wouldn’t consider it as a first line treatment to grow facial hair as a male since there’s more systematic absorption involved when taking minoxidil orally.

But for the males who don’t respond well to topical minoxidil, oral minoxidil can be an alternative to grow those whiskers men often desire.

 

Conclusion

Oral minoxidil hair regrowth is real. And taking minoxidil orally for hair loss can be used as an off-label, non FDA approved way to increase hair regrowth. Although I would still recommend trying topical minoxidil first since there’s less systematic absorption.

If you do decide to use oral minoxidil in an attempt to grow scalp hair, then make sure to use a low dosage ranging between 0.5-2.5 mg of oral minoxidil for women, and between 1.25 to 5 mg of oral minoxidil a day for men. This will counter the typical, more common side effects associated with higher dosages of oral minoxidil usage.

A higher dosage ranging between 10-40 mg of oral minoxidil is the dose reserved specifically to treat hypertension. This means that the dosage should NEVER exceed 10 mg if one uses oral minoxidil for beard or hair growth. Preferably, a much lower dosage, up to 5 mg, is optimal.

Always be careful when using oral minoxidil since there’s more systematic absorption of the medication. And when in doubt, or if you’re experiencing any side effects, report them to your doctor immediately in order to prevent future health issues.

 

References

References
1 https://www.midlandskin.co.uk/conditions/minoxidil/
2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34529341/
3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33660357/
4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32970299/
5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32622136/
6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32516434/
7 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35244759/