Minoxidil tablets for hair growth

Topical minoxidil is perhaps the most well known product to combat hair loss. And for good reason, seeing as it is scientifically proven to be effective at doing so.

But unbeknownst to many, minoxidil tablets for hair growth do exist as well. Oral minoxidil is mainly used to treat hypertension, but can also be used in an attempt to regrow hair, or at least slow down hair loss.

Granted, the minoxidil tablets dose for hair loss is much lower than it is to treat high blood pressure, which will help to minimize possible side effects.

Let me explain why minoxidil tablets for hair growth can be a viable alternative to the topical variant.

 
 
 

 

 

Is there a pil for minoxidil?

Image of 100 oral minoxidil tablets.

Yes, there is a pill for minoxidil. It’s what we call oral minoxidil, also commonly called minoxidil tablets.

Minoxidil is available in both an oral, and topical form. The topical version is used to combat hair loss, while the oral version is most commonly used to treat hypertension. But sometimes, oral minoxidil is also utilized to treat hair loss when one doesn’t respond to the topical version.

The typical oral dosages for treating hypertension are much higher compared to the doses if used to address hair loss.

 

What are minoxidil tablets used for?

Minoxidil tablets are what we call oral minoxidil.

Minoxidil tablets uses

Oral minoxidil pills can get used to treat hypertension, and to fight hair loss.

The primary usage of oral minoxidil tablets is to treat high blood pressure, also commonly called hypertension.

High blood pressure can create all sorts of problems in the body such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney issues.

Minoxidil works by relaxing the blood vessels, so there’s less pressure on the blood vessel walls. This leads to blood being able to flow more freely and easily. The dosages with regard to treating hypertension are fairly high. Particularly compared to the doses that are used to fight hair loss.

This means that there’s another use for minoxidil tablets. Some people also employ it to treat male or female pattern baldness.

The reason oral minoxidil can work to combat hair loss even though topical minoxidil doesn’t is because some people lack the appropriate enzyme (sulfotransferase) in their hair follicles that’s required to trigger the product from minoxidil to minoxidil sulfate. This enzyme doesn’t just occupy in the hair follicles, but also resides in the liver, which means oral minoxidil can still be efficient even though the topical product isn’t.

 
Nevertheless, topical minoxidil is heavily favored over oral minoxidil with regard to hair loss, especially for women.
 
Why? Because there’s much more systematic absorption involved with oral minoxidil tablets. Mainly because it’s taken orally, which means it goes through the entire body instead of one specific area. This means that the chance for unwanted side effects such as the growth of body hair all over the body is much larger with minoxidil tablets than topical usage.
 
For men, these unwanted side effects are obviously not as bad as for women, although they can still be bothersome to some. The only reason why I would consider using oral over topical minoxidil is if I was allergic to some ingredients, or if the topical product didn’t work.
 

Does minoxidil tablets regrow hair?

Minoxidil tablets can in fact regrow hair. Although it depends on each specific individual, seeing as not everyone responds the same to the same medication.

Minoxidil tablets for hair growth

Minoxidil tablets for hair growth do exist. It is typically administered as a low dosage, ranging from 0.625 mg to 3 mg every day at most.

That’s not to say that a slightly higher dosage will be detrimental to the body, or will necessarily induce more side effects. But, it does increase the chance of doing so, which means we should try to keep the dose as low as possible while still being effective.

When minoxidil tablets get used to treat high blood pressure, then dosages are usually much higher ranging from 10 mg to 40 mg daily.

 

Can minoxidil tablets cause hair loss?

No, minoxidil tablets do not cause hair loss, at least not in the long term.

Although it might seem that way when you quit using minoxidil tablets entirely since hair loss will start to happen again, and because of temporary hair shedding that can occur when you start using minoxidil.

As a matter of fact, minoxidil tablets can even cause the regrowth of hair, regardless if you use it to treat high blood pressure or specifically to regrow lost hair.

Quitting minoxidil means progressive hair loss will occur again

Yet, when you quit using minoxidil tablets you might lose the hair gains that you’ve made when you used said product.

Hair loss is normally progressive, regardless if using minoxidil or not

It’s also likely that your hair loss will continue to advance, since most hair loss is in fact progressive.

This might give the illusion that the oral minoxidil tablets are causing the hair loss, while in reality it is the male or female pattern baldness advancing.

Increased hair shedding due to the minoxidil

It’s also possible for temporary hair shedding to come about when you start using oral or topical minoxidil.

This is because minoxidil speeds up the hair growth process, which means older hair will be shed quicker as well. But don’t worry, the amount of new, vital hairs that grow in will soon far outnumber the hairs you’ll lose due to the increased shedding.

Increased hair shedding tends to subside within 1–6 weeks after initiating treatment. This means it’s a temporary effect you shouldn’t worry too much about.

 

How long do minoxidil pills take to work?

 

Minoxidil tablets side effects

Image of minoxidil tablets with the words 'side effects' written on a piece of paper underneath them.

What are the side effects of minoxidil tablets?

Important to note is that the side effects of minoxidil tablets/oral minoxidil are the same as those of topical minoxidil, albeit usually more intense, and more systematically.

Possible side effects of minoxidil tablets are:

Less common and non-dangerous side effects

  • Scalp itching[1]https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a689003.html
  • Hair shedding because the telogen phase of hair growth is shortened
  • Skin irritation: discomfort, burning sensation and/or erythema
  • Scaly changes of the applied area: irritation or exacerbation of seborrheic dermatitis
  • Isolated pruritus
  • Generalized or localized hypertrichosis: This can occur with both the topical and oral minoxidil. It is however more common with the oral form and 5% than the 2% minoxidil because there is more systematic absorption. Research has suggested that hypertrichosis is related to minoxidil’s prolongation of the anagen phase.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: Pruritus, eczematous skin reaction and erythema. Propylene glycol and minoxidil are two major allergens in allergic contact dermatitis. There is also minoxidil foam that lacks propylene glycol, which can be a viable option if an allergic reaction happens[2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  • Minoxidil may make your skin sensitive to sunlight. Avoid unneeded or prolonged exposure to sunlight. Make sure to wear protective sunscreen, glasses, and clothing depending on where you applied the topical minoxidil solution.
  • Skin flushing

Rare side effects that are a sign of too much minoxidil being absorbed in the body (too much systematic absorption)

Remember to always immediately go to an emergency care center or to call 911 in case of severe side effect. In other words, seek immediate professional help if any of the following symptoms arise:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing (especially when lying down)
  • swelling of the face, ankles, hands, or stomach[3]https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/minoxidil-topical-route/precautions/drg-20068750?p=1
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Tingling feeling or numbness of the face, hands and/or feet
  • Headache
  • lightheadedness
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Fainting
  • Severe skin irritation
 

Minoxidil tablets dose for hair loss

It’s hard to conclude the perfect dose of oral minoxidil to stimulate hair growth. But what we can establish are some general guidelines.

Since women are lighter, their dosage will typically be lower than men. Especially when we factor in that higher dosages means an increased risk for developing unwanted side effects such as the growth of unwanted body hair.

As such, for women, the appropriate dosage is somewhere between 0,625 mg-2,5 mg daily.

For men, the correct dose is a bit higher. Ranging from 1,25 mg-3 mg.

This means that the minoxidil 2.5 mg tablet for hair loss will serve as a good starting point for both men and women to regrow hair. That is if they don’t want to go through the hassle of splitting pills to the appropriate lower dose.

Still, these should be considered lowish doses, seeing as dosages to treat hypertension range from 10 mg up to as high as 40 mg daily.

Doses of oral Minoxidil

Minoxidil is acquirable in 2.5 mg, 5 mg and 10 mg pills/tablets. Lower doses are typically reserved in order to attempt to regrow hair and slow down hair loss, while higher dosages are used to treat hypertension.

Minoxidil 10 mg tablets are typically used as a starting point to treat high blood pressure.

 

Do minoxidil and finasteride tablets regrow hair?

Minoxidil and finasteride tablets are a potent combination to regrow lost hair, or to stave off further hair loss.

Still, I wouldn’t say that minoxidil tablets are preferred as a first line treatment option to combat hair loss when compared to the topical version. Finasteride tablets can cause some potential negative side effects as well that can be worrisome to men and women alike.

One particular study examined clinical reports submitted to the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) from 2004 to 2014. 

They found that finasteride was considerable more likely to produce reproductive toxicity compared to minoxidil.[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347675/

Another study with level of evidence III deems the combination of finasteride and minoxidil to be safe for use for androgenetic alopecia (AGA). It also deems minoxidil combined with finasteride to be more effective than just monotherapy with only finasteride or minoxidil.[5]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32166351/

The following study with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil concluded that finasteride is superior to 5% minoxidil, while the combined medication showed the best efficacy. They also concluded that adverse reactions were rare (finasteride, 1.8%; minoxidil, 6.1%), and disappeared right after drug withdrawal.[6]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26031764/

Another randomized, double-blind controlled study of the efficacy and safety of topical solution of 0.25% finasteride admixed with 3% minoxidil vs. 3% minoxidil solution in the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia concluded the following:

Treatment with topical solution of 0.25% finasteride admixed with 3% minoxidil was significantly superior to 3% minoxidil solution for promoting hair growth in male androgenetic alopecia, and well tolerated.)[7]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29972712/

 

Conclusion

Minoxidil pills for hair growth can be a viable alternative to the topical version in an attempt to halt hair loss, or even to regrow lost hair. Even when topical minoxidil doesn’t work, oral minoxidil can still provide solace for some!

Still, my preferred first treatment option will always be topical minoxidil since there’s less systematic absorption involved, which means less chance to get annoying side effects.

I would like to add that it’s essential to start your minoxidil treatment as soon as you start detecting hair loss since it’s easier to slow down or halt hair loss than it is to regrow lost whiskers.

I’m not saying regrowing hair with minoxidil is impossible, but it’s most definitely much harder, and there are limits to how much hair we can regrow, even with a medication that’s proven to be effective!

 
 
 

 

 

References

References
1 https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a689003.html
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
3 https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/minoxidil-topical-route/precautions/drg-20068750?p=1
4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347675/
5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32166351/
6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26031764/
7 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29972712/