How to use minoxidil pills for hair growth

Minoxidil is a medication primarily known for its topical application to promote hair growth, and even beard growth for men pursuing those options.

However, it’s also available in oral form. Minoxidil pills, also known as oral minoxidil, have gained attention as a potential treatment for certain medical conditions such as low blood pressure, but also to combat hair loss.

Evidence proposes that the appropriate low dose of minoxidil pills for hair regrowth in women ranges from 0.25 to 2.5 mg/day. Men require a slightly higher dosage ranging from 2.5 to 5 mg/day since they’re heavier.
 
 

 

 

Medical uses of minoxidil pills

Image of 100 oral minoxidil tablets.

Minoxidil pills are oral medications that contain minoxidil as the active ingredient.

While minoxidil is primarily known to widen the blood vessels (vasodilation) when applied topically to the scalp, oral minoxidil is mainly used to manage specific medical conditions such as high blood pressure and certain types of hair loss.

Oral minoxidil requires a prescription from a healthcare professional unlike topical minoxidil, which is available over-the-counter.

  1. Hypertension (high blood pressure) management

    Image of a doctor taking a patient's blood pressure.

    Minoxidil was initially developed as an oral medication to treat hypertension.

    It works by relaxing and widening the blood vessels, reducing peripheral resistance, and quite obviously, by lowering the blood pressure itself.

    Oral minoxidil is typically prescribed when other antihypertensive medications have not been effective.

  2. To treat hair loss

    While topical minoxidil is typically preferred to treat hair loss, some individuals may not experience satisfactory results with topical minoxidil alone. That’s because some folks lack the right enzymes required to utilize the topical minoxidil. Nevertheless, oral minoxidil can still offer solace since it produces hair growth depending on the dosage, even in patients with low SULT1A1 activity.

    In such cases, oral minoxidil may be considered as an alternative treatment option to potentially enhance hair regrowth. There’s even such a thing as topical minoxidil sprays to regrow lost hair.

  3. Alopecia Areata Treatment

    Image of a man suffering from the autoimmune disease alopecia areata revealing a patchy beard.
    A man who has bald spots in his beard due to suffering from the autoimmune disease alopecia areata.

    Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss, potentially all over the body. Sometimes it’s on the scalp, the entire beard, or just around the cheeks area.

    In some cases, oral minoxidil may be prescribed as an off-label treatment option for individuals with severe or extensive alopecia areata that has not responded to other treatments. The current hypothesis is that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, or a reaction to severe stress (telogen effluvium.)

 
 
 

 

 

Minoxidil pills considerations and precautions

  1. Prescription Requirement

    Unlike topical minoxidil, oral minoxidil is a prescription medication.

    This means that it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physician or dermatologist to assess your medical condition, and in order to provide a proper diagnosis. This way, they’ll be able to determine if oral minoxidil is an appropriate treatment option for you or not.

  2. Potential Side Effects

    Oral minoxidil carries a higher risk of side effects compared to topical minoxidil because there’s more systematic absorption, meaning it affects the body as a whole. That’s because the product gets taken in entirely instead of just locally.

    The most common side effects include fluid retention, swelling (edema) in the lower legs and ankles, and increased heart rate.

    Less common side effects may include chest pain, shortness of breath, weight gain, and electrolyte imbalances. These reactions require close monitoring by a healthcare professional during treatment, and is also why people suffering from preexisting heart issues should not take minoxidil.

    It’s also important to disclose any preexisting medical conditions, including heart disease or kidney problems, as minoxidil can have specific considerations for individuals with these conditions.

  3. Regular Monitoring and Adjustments

    Image depicting monitoring one's health.

    Your healthcare professional will closely monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and overall health when prescribed oral minoxidil. Regular check-ups and follow-up visits are crucial to limit associated risks.

  4. Individual Response and Hair Growth

    While oral minoxidil can promote hair growth, its effectiveness can vary from person to person.

    Some individuals may experience significant hair regrowth, while others may see minimal improvements, or none at all. That’s why it’s critical to discuss your expectations with a professional and to understand that hair regrowth is not always guaranteed.

  5. Potential Drug Interactions

    Image describing possible medication interactions.

    Oral minoxidil can potentially interact with other medications such as blood pressure-lowering drugs, diuretics, and medications that affect heart function.

    Inform your caregiver about all the medications and supplements you are taking to prevent potential interactions and to limit the dangers of taking minoxidil.

  6. Dosage and Administration

    The dosage of minoxidil pills will be determined by your healthcare provider based on your specific condition and needs.

    Typically, the initial dose for managing high blood pressure is low and gradually increased over time, depending on the results and needs of the individual. It’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding the dosage and frequency of administration since they’re professionally trained to do so.

  7. Duration of Treatment

    Image of a man looking at his phone with the sentence, 'time limit' written in front of it in white letters.

    How long the treatment with minoxidil pills will last depends on the medical condition being treated.

    For hypertension management and hair loss, oral minoxidil is usually used as a long-term treatment option.

    In cases of alopecia areata, the duration of treatment may vary, and your professional healthcare provider will guide you on the appropriate treatment duration.

  8. Discontinuation of Treatment

    It’s crucial not to stop taking minoxidil pills abruptly without consulting your healthcare professional.

    Sudden discontinuation can lead to rebound hypertension (a sudden increase in blood pressure), but can also cause you to lose all the hair gains you’ve made if you used it to combat hair loss.

    Consult your healthcare professional for guidance on the appropriate tapering off process if you are considering quitting minoxidil entirely.

  9. Seeking Professional Guidance

    Image of a team of health care professionals discussing their patient's results.

    You should seek the guidance of a healthcare practitioner given the potential side effects and the need for close monitoring.

    They will assess your medical history, evaluate the potential benefits and risks, and determine if oral minoxidil is the appropriate treatment option for your specific condition.

    Remember that the information provided here is for general knowledge purposes only, and it’s essential to consult a professional for personalized guidance and recommendations regarding the use of minoxidil pills.

 

Final note

Minoxidil pills serve primarily as a prescribed medication for managing conditions such as high blood pressure and certain types of hair loss.

You should evaluate your specific situation with a healthcare provider to receive a proper diagnosis, and to determine if oral minoxidil is an appropriate treatment option for your personal needs. Regular monitoring and follow-up visits are crucial to manage potential side effects and to reduce associated risks.