Oral minoxidil for beard growth

Topical minoxidil is an off-label, non FDA approved drug for beard growth that’s frequently used by men in an attempt to grow facial hair. Multiple clinical studies have reported the effectiveness of topical minoxidil with respect to growing facial hair.

But some people don’t respond well, or can’t use topical minoxidil at all due to various reasons. In those cases, oral minoxidil can be used in a non FDA approved way in order to try to grow facial hair. At times, oral minoxidil is also used to facilitate hair growth when all else fails.

Let me explain why it can be effective to use oral minoxidil for beard growth.

 
 
 

 

 

Is it effective to use oral minoxidil for beard growth?

Image of oral minoxidil chemical formula.

Since oral minoxidil does indeed work to slow down hair loss, and even to regrow hair in individuals suffering from androgenetic alopecia, it should theoretically also help to grow a beard.

Anecdotal evidence from multiple oral minoxidil users on the r/Minoxbeards board on Reddit report an increased amount of beard hair, while simultaneously describing a thicker and coarser beard. So it does seem that oral minoxidil beard growth is indeed real.

However, even though oral minoxidil starts working immediately, it can take quite some time before hair and beard growth becomes noticeable.

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

 

Is oral minoxidil for beard growth safe?

Low dosages of oral minoxidil for beard growth are generally considered safe.

However, it should be noted that oral minoxidil is not FDA approved for hair growth nor for beard growth. But clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of low dosages (0.25 to 2.5 mg daily) for hair regrowth.

Higher dosages are reserved for treating hypertension. These dosages are typically between 10-40 mg per day.

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

Oral minoxidil 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.

 
 
 

 

 

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 beard 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. Thus, oral minoxidil beard growth can still occur.[1]https://www.midlandskin.co.uk/conditions/minoxidil/

 

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

Clip art from a full bearded man with sunglasses on.

Oral Minoxidil can be considered for beard growth 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 a long beard 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 beard growth dosage?

The appropriate dosage of oral minoxidil for beard 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 dosages around 0.5-2.5 mg seem to be acceptable and effective for hair and beard growth, while generally inducing little to no side effects.

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 and facial hair growth. High dosages between 10-40 mg per day are usually reserved for hypertensive medication.

 

Final note

Oral minoxidil beard growth is real. It can be used as an off-label, non FDA approved way to increase hair and beard growth. Minoxidil pills can also be used to stimulate hair growth.

If you do decide to use oral minoxidil in an attempt to grow facial hair, then make sure to use a low dosage ranging between 0.5-2.5 mg of oral minoxidil. 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 2.5 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 health issues.

 

References

References
1 https://www.midlandskin.co.uk/conditions/minoxidil/