Minoxidil Pills VS Topical Minoxidil – Which Is Better For Hair Loss?

In this article, I will compare minoxidil pills VS topical.

So which of these 2 versions is better for hair loss?

As you might know already, minoxidil is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients for hair loss.

In fact, minoxidil can be found both as pills and as a topical, which confuses people:

  • Which option is more effective?
  • What side effects each of them triggers?
  • Which one is more suitable for you?

So, let's find out the pros and cons of each option and decide which one is best for you.

Note. This article is based on my own research on minoxidil pills and minoxidil topical.

Minoxidil Pills VS Topical Minoxidil? (In A Nutshell)

After comparing both options, I can confidently say that Topical Minoxidil is superior.

There are various reasons why it's a better treatment for hair loss:

  • is FDA approved
  • you can buy it without a doctor's prescription
  • does not cause severe side effects
  • is efficient for hair loss
  • is available in multiple drugstores
  • people seem to tolerate it better

Oral minoxidil can be a solution for those who can't use the topical version.

This means that it is effective as long as you take it.

However, I recommend you to first try the topical version

If you don't tolerate topical minoxidil, only then I would advise you to try the tablets.

That's because topical minoxidil has some major disadvantages:

  • you need a prescription to buy it
  • is not FDA-approved
  • is not as available as the topical version
  • might trigger significant side effects

All in all, I consider that topical minoxidil is a way better choice.

So, if you want to use minoxidil for hair loss, it is better to go for the topical version.

However, if you still want to try minoxidil pills, go for it.

But first, find out all the information you need and then make an informed decision.




As both options have their own versions, we should have a look at those first.

However, before that, let me ask you a question. 

Do you know what minoxidil is and for what it is used?

If your answer is no, then let me clarify some things for you:

  • minoxidil is a treatment that was proven to improve hair growth 
  • it also prevents and stops hair loss
  • it can be used to treat alopecia

Moreover, it can be found in different versions and concentrations.

Therefore, for now, we will discover how those versions differ and which one is the best.

In short, I must say that the topical versions are best because:

  • are easy to find and use
  • are FDA approved

So, let's dig deeper and talk a bit more about topical and minoxidil pills.

I'm sure you are eager to know what versions are out there and how they differ.

Thus, I won't keep you waiting any longer.

1. Minoxidil Pills

Oral minoxidil contains the same substance (minoxidil) but in tablet form.

It is usually prescribed by dermatologists for people who are dealing with hair loss.

The only difference between the three versions of oral minoxidil is dosage.

So, you can find minoxidil tablets of 3 dosages:

  • 2.5 mg
  • 5 mg
  • 10 mg

I will talk about how to take minoxidil tablets a little bit later.

For now, I want to make sure that you know in which cases minoxidil pills are preferred.

In fact, I advise you to try topical minoxidil before you try the pills.

However, in the following cases you might consider taking tablets:

  • you have an allergic reaction to topical minoxidil (rash, irritation)
  • topical minoxidil doesn't work for you
  • topical minoxidil makes your hair dry and tangled
  • other obstacles don't allow you to use topical minoxidil

As you can see, minoxidil tables are recommended only in case you can't use the topical version.

Moreover, I have to tell you one more detail about minoxidil pills.

Those are not yet approved by the FDA and you can't find them easily.

Yet, they are still prescribed as “off-label” treatments for hair loss.

For those reasons, I prefer topical minoxidil over minoxidil pills, which I hope you'll do too.

2. Topical Minoxidil

Instead of taking pills, you should consider applying minoxidil to your scalp.

As you know by now, minoxidil can be also found as products that are applied topically.

In fact, topical minoxidil was the first one that appeared on the market.

Moreover, you can find it in two versions:

  • liquid 
  • foam

Both of them are effective and safe to use, as they are FDA approved.

However, there are some slight differences between those two.

So, let's briefly talk about them:

  • both are easy to use, but the foam is better for people with an oily scalp
  • that is because the foam version is absorbed in the scalp faster
  • yet, as the liquid version has a dropper, you can reach easier different places on the scalp
  • the foam version is easier to use for large areas of skin 
  • also, foam is preferred by people who have short hair 

As you can observe, the two versions are suitable for different types of hair and scalp.

The foam version is more suitable for those who have short hair and an oily scalp.

The other one might be a better alternative for people with long hair and a dry scalp.

In short, the two versions are designed to respond to your needs.

That's why I advise you to try topical minoxidil, not minoxidil pills.


If I were to pick one option between the two, I would surely go for topical minoxidil.

That's because it is FDA-approved and you can find it both as liquid and as a foam.

Moreover, topical minoxidil responds to various of your need. 

Minoxidil pills might be effective, but they are not FDA-approved, so I don't recommend them.



#2 – Concentration & Dosage – WINNER: TOPICAL MINOXIDIL

As any other over-the-counter treatment for hair loss, minoxidil has different concentrations.

This depends on the type of minoxidil you pick, topical or pills.

Also, minoxidil can be found in various dosages, designed to help you deal with hair loss.

So let's discuss concentration and dosage of both forms of minoxidil.

1. Minoxidil Pills

As you might know, minoxidil pills are used to treat hypertension too.

That's why you can find tablets with different dosages.

As I already mentioned when I discussed the versions of minoxidil, there are three dosages.

Let's have a look at them again to make sure that you know what I'm talking about:

  • 2.5 mg
  • 5 mg
  • 10 mg

So, for hair loss, the dosage is different from the dosage you need to take for hypertension.

Actually, for treating hair loss, the dosage is lower that the one for hypertension. 

The difference between dosages is quite significant:

  • for hair loss and growth, the dosage might vary between 0.625 mg to 2.5 mg daily
  • for hypertension, the dosages usually are 10-40 mg per day

Thus, when you start taking minoxidil pills, make sure that you take the right dosage.

Otherwise, you might experience some severe side effects, which I don't think you want.

Moreover, the dosages differ depending on your sex:

  • in the beginning, women should take 0.625 mg per day
  • men, on the other hand, should start with a dose of 1.25 mg per day

As you can see, when it comes to pills, dosages are pretty exact.

However, as in stores you find only pills of 2.5 mg, it might be difficult to take the exact dosage.

For those reasons, I think it's better to use topical minoxidil instead.

In the case of topical minoxidil, it is easier to apply the exact amount of minoxidil on your scalp.

2. Topical Minoxidil

As I highlighted in the previous section, topical minoxidil can be found in two forms.

One is foam and the other is the topical solution.

Each of these versions of the same product, minoxidil, has its own dosage.

So, the topical solution can have two dosages:

  • 2%
  • 5%

The foam can be found only in a dosage of 5%. 

Moreover, both women and men have to take the same dosage.

So, the dosage that you need to take, as an adult, is as follows:

  • apply 1 ml of the solution to your scalp two times per day
  • or apply half a capful to the scalp two times per day

As the solution has a dropper, it will be easy to measure the exact amount that you need.

So, there's little chance you will use more than you actually should.

However, if you have a sever hair loss, the dosage might need to increase. 

Also, remember that the winner of this section is topical minoxidil.

Why? Because in the case of topical minoxidil, the dosages are the same for both women and men.

Also, it is easier to apply the exact dosage, so topical minoxidil is what you may need.


Minoxidil pills are found in various dosages.

Also, the dosage that a woman or a man should take is different.

For topical minoxidil, the amount you need to use is the same for both women and men.

Moreover, the solution, as well as foam, is pretty easy to apply in the exact dosage.

For those reasons, I consider that the winner of this section is topical minoxidil.




I'm sure that you are eager to find out how to use both minoxidil pills and topical minoxidil.

So, I won't keep you waiting any longer and I will tell you the instructions.

1. Minoxidil Pills

First of all, let's see how to take minoxidil pills.

As I already mentioned, the dosages are different for men and women.

Moreover, you need to take into consideration a few things before you start the treatment:

  1. Talk to your doctor about your intentions to take minoxidil pills.
  2. Take minoxidil pills with caution if you take drugs for blood pressure.
  3. Remember that minoxidil pills are also used for hypertension.
  4. So they might interfere with other medications.

Even if the dosage your need to take for hair loss is low, take into consideration these aspects.

Are there any situations when you should avoid minoxidil pills?

Well, yes. Here are some of them:

  • you are allergic to this drug
  • you had a recent heart attack
  • you suffer from heart failure
  • you experienced angina

How, let's cut to the chase and see how to take minoxidil pills:

  • Take the pills by mouth with or without food or water.
  • The dosages are listed in the previous section.
  • You need to cut the pills into halves or quarters to take the exact dose.
  • Take it once or twice per day according to the instructions on the label.

Now that you know how to take minoxidil pills, you can give them a try.

Just make sure that they won't harm your health.

Are those all the details that you need to take into consideration?

Well, after you start your treatment with minoxidil, you should stay away from those:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine

That's because alcohol might reduce your blood pressure.

Caffeine, on the other hand, makes your heart race and causes palpitations.

Other than that, taking minoxidil pills is quite simple.

That's why I consider them the winner of this section.

2. Topical Minoxidil

As in the case of minoxidil pills, topical minoxidil comes with a few instructions.

First of all, I need to tell you that it is very important to follow the directions on the label.

Moreover, take into consideration the following:

  • Use topical minoxidil only as directed.
  • Do not use it too often or too less.
  • Apply minoxidil only on the affected area, not on other parts of the body.
  • Do not use other products on the same area to which you applied minoxidil.
  • Use minoxidil only 24 hours after various hair procedures.

As you can see, topical minoxidil comes with a lot of instructions.

However, I assure you that it is effective and safe if you follow those.

Also, as I mentioned, topical minoxidil comes in two forms – foam and liquid.

Both products have to be applied daily and they might leave your hair a little greasy.

Yet, each of them is used differently. So, let's see how to use each of these.

We will start with the minoxidil solution. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Make sure that your scalp and hair are dry before you apply the solution.
  2. Apply the right amount (1 ml) to the affected area.
  3. Immediately after you use minoxidil wash your hands.
  4. Do not shampoo your hair for 4 hours after you applied the solution.
  5. Make sure that the solution doesn't get to other parts of your body or clothes.

When you use both foam and solution you need to be careful.

That's because you don't want it to get to other parts of your body or to stain something.

What about foam? How should you use this one?

Well, here are the instructions:

  1. Part your hair into three-four rows to expose the affected areas of your scalp.
  2. Put foam on your fingers (a capful).
  3. Spread the foam to the scalp insisting on the affected areas.
  4. Massage your scalp gently.
  5. Immediately after you used the foam, wash your hands thoroughly. 

Keep in mind those instructions when you use topical minoxidil. 

Also, make sure that you don't miss any step when you use it.

I know, there are a lot of details you need to remember.

That's why I consider that minoxidil pills are easier to use.

However, I assure you that topical minoxidil is worth trying despite the so many instructions.


Minoxidil pills are easy to use as you only need to take them by mouth once or twice per day.

However, make sure that you follow all the instructions accordingly.

The same thing applies in the case of topical minoxidil.

In fact, topical minoxidil is a little bit harder to use, but it deserves the effort.

Yet, because of that, I picked minoxidil pills as the winner of this section. 




Do you know which of the two, minoxidil pills or topical, is more effective?

If your answer is no, then you came to the right place.

Thus, stay tuned and find out which product has the best result!

1. Minoxidil Pills

First of all, I need to say that there isn't much research that shows the effectiveness of the pills.

That's because minoxidil pills appeared pretty recently on the market, compared to topical.

I'm referring here to minoxidil pills as a treatment for hair loss.

Therefore, it is not known with certainty how efficient they are. [1]

Yet, what we know is that minoxidil pills might work as long as you take the treatment.

So, if you want to try them, you might consider the following:

  • minoxidil pills work slowly, so you need to be patient
  • the effect is visible as long as you continue the treatment
  • so you might consider it a long-term treatment
  • topical minoxidil is usually preferred over minoxidil pills

Despite all those things doctors continue to recommend minoxidil pills.

Why? Well, because topical minoxidil may not be suitable for all people.

So one of the options that remains is minoxidil pills. 

Do these work better than topical minoxidil? Let's find out:

  • it is not known with certainty, as there are not many studies to prove this
  • however, some people claim that 2 out of 3 of their users are satisfied with the results

Still, as this claim is not supported by many researchers, I wouldn't fully trust this information.

Moreover, minoxidil pills are not yet approved by the FDA, as I already said.

Thus, I recommend topical minoxidil over minoxidil pills.

Yet, if you still want to give those pills a try, take into account those details.

2. Topical Minoxidil

In the case of topical minoxidil, more studies show its results.

That's because topical minoxidil has been used as a treatment for hair loss for a longer time.

So what does the research say about the effectiveness of topical minoxidil?

Well, firstly, let's see how fast the results start appearing:

  • topical minoxidil starts working in about 4-8 weeks
  • however, it can take around 4-6 months until you see significant improvements
  • moreover, like the pills, this is a long-term treatment
  • which means that it is effective as long as you use it constantly 

Does this mean that when you stop the treatment it doesn't work anymore? 

Exactly! That's why you might consider it a lifelong treatment.

This applies whether we are talking about minoxidil pills or topical.

However, how effective it is?:

  • further research needs to be done
  • however, up to now topical minoxidil is proven to help with hair loss
  • in fact, some studies show that its efficiency is pretty high [2]

What's more, that topical minoxidil is FDA-approved and there are more studies about it.

So it definitely has some advantages in comparison to minoxidil pills.

For these reasons, I consider that topical minoxidil has better results.

Thus, I advise you to try topical minoxidil before you try minoxidil pills.


Minoxidil pills have been used for hair loss for a shorter period of time than the topical version.

So, there isn't much research on this product and its efficiency.

However, it is known, like in the case of topical minoxidil, to have good results. 

Topical minoxidil, on the other hand, is approved as a treatment for hair loss and it is efficient.

So, if I were you, I would choose the topical version, not the oral one.




As any other drug, minoxidil might trigger certain side effects.

However, the question is which of the two versions is safer.

In other words, in this section, we will discover which one causes fewer side effects.

1. Minoxidil Pills

For this part, I will divide the side effects into two categories:

  • common ones
  • less frequent side effects

Also, I have to mention that women are more prone to experience side effects.

At least in the case of minoxidil pills.

So, if you want to start your treatment with minoxidil pills you need to know the risks, right?

Thus, the most common side effects that those pills cause are:

  • the growth of excessive hair in unwanted places
  • ankle swelling and fluid retention
  • fast heart rate
  • low blood pressure and feeling lightheaded
  • headaches [3]
  • weight gain
  • bloating
  • redness of the skin

It is true that oral minoxidil might help your hair grow.

However, this might also mean that the hair from other parts of your body might start growing.

Who wants that?

Thus, let's see which side effects are less common:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • numbness in feet, hands, or face
  • nausea and vomiting
  • insomnia
  • skin rashes

As you can see, minoxidil pills trigger quite a lot of side effects

So, make sure that you consider this before you decide to give it a try.

However, a better alternative is topical minoxidil which doesn't cause so many side effects.

That's why I prefer topical minoxidil over the oral version.

2. Topical Minoxidil

Topical minoxidil can also trigger various side effects.

However, these are not as many as in the case of oral minoxidil.

Yet, I should also mention those for you to know all the information you need.

For this, I will use the same two categories from the previous section. 

So, let's have a look at the most common side effects that you might experience:

  • irritation
  • eczema
  • allergic dermatitis [4]
  • redness on the affected area
  • a burning sensation of the scalp

Most of these side effects might appear on the exterior, where you applied the solution.

This might mean that your body does not tolerate minoxidil well.

The side effects that appear in rare cases are:

  • acne at the site of application
  • facial hair growth
  • increased hair loss
  • inflammation or soreness at the root of the hair
  • swelling of face

Those side effects are less likely to appear.

Also, as you can observe, the side effects caused by topical minoxidil are not that severe.

Moreover, they are not as many and as frequent as in the case of minoxidil pills.

For these reasons, I consider that topical minoxidil is a better option.


Both topical minoxidil and minoxidil pills might trigger some side effects.

However, oral minoxidil causes more side effects than the topical version.

So topical minoxidil is generally better tolerated by people.

That's why I advise you to try the topical version before you try the tablets.

Moreover, I consider topical minoxidil is safer – so it is the winner of this section. 




I'm sure that this is one of the aspects that you are interested in.

That's why for this section I will talk about the prices of both versions of minoxidil.

In this way, you can consider all those aspects before you decide to try one of the options.

So, let's find out which one is more affordable.

1. Minoxidil Pills

First of all, I have to say again that minoxidil tablets for hair loss are not FDA-approved.

This means that you cannot find those pills on Amazon.

However, even if you find them online, you cannot buy them without a prescription.

Why? Because minoxidil pills are usually used to treat hypertension.

Therefore, if you want to use this treatment you need to go to a doctor.

In terms of price, the costs of minoxidil pills are similar to those of topical minoxidil.

Here are some examples of prices:

  • $10.40 
  • $ 17.61
  • $59.99
  • $120.99

As you can see, the prices vary according to the quantity you want to buy.

In other words, the fewer tables you buy, the lower the prices are.

So I can't say that oral minoxidil is more affordable than topical minoxidil.

Also, we have to take into consideration the other disadvantages that it has. 

Like the fact that you need to go to a doctor to be able to buy it.

Thus, overall, I consider that the topical version is the winner of this section as well.

2. Topical Minoxidil

Fortunately, you can find topical minoxidil on Amazon (and not only). 

Like in the case of oral minoxidil, the prices vary quite a lot.

This depends on the brand and on the quantity you want to buy.

However, topical minoxidil has different prices for all types of buyers.

So let's have a look at some examples of prices:

  • $ 10.99
  • $19.99
  • $39.95
  • $51.00

I told you that prices are similar to those of minoxidil pills.

Moreover, here you have more options from which to choose.

That's because more brands make this type of treatment.

Also, you don't need a prescription to buy it.

Thus, considering all those advantages, I think that topical minoxidil is a better option.


The prices of minoxidil pills and topical minoxidil are similar.

However, you can't buy minoxidil pills without a prescription.

Also, in the case of topical minoxidil, you have more options from which to choose.

That's why I believe that topical minoxidil wins over minoxidil pills.




Which of the two versions of minoxidil is easier to find?

Which one is more available to people?

In this section, we will answer those important questions!

1. Minoxidil Pills

I touched upon some of these aspects when I talk about the price of minoxidil pills.

So some of these details are not new to you.

As I already mention you need to see a doctor in order to buy minoxidil pills.

That's because only a doctor can give a prescription that allows you to buy those tablets.

Moreover, there are only a few places where you can find them.

Here they are:

  • online pharmacies
  • the pharmacies from your city

As I pointed out, you can't find those pills even on Amazon.

Why? Because they trigger a lot of side effects and are not approved by FDA.

So, it is not safe to take them without talking to a doctor.

Thus, as topical minoxidil is far easier to find, it is my choice.

2. Topical Minoxidil

Guess what? Topical minoxidil is much more available!

You already knew I would say that, right?

Indeed, topical minoxidil is much easier to find and buy.

That's because, surprise, you don't need a prescription to buy it. [5]

All you need to do is to pick a high-quality product and use it.

Rember, high quality does not necessarily mean more expensive.

Where can you find minoxidil solution or foam?

Well, here are some places where you can go:

  • online websites like Amazon
  • various drugstores

There you will surely find the product that you need.

So, topical minoxidil is not only effective but also available.

And its prices vary so much that anybody can afford this treatment.

That's why, topical minoxidil deserves to be the winner of this section.



My Verdict – Minoxidil Pills or Topical Minoxidil?

After comparing minoxidil pills VS topical which one is on top?

The only possible answer is this – topical minoxidil is the champion:

  • is FDA-approved as an effective treatment for hair loss
  • does not trigger severe side-effects
  • you can buy it without a prescription
  • the dosages are pretty clear 
  • you can find it both as foam and a solution
  • has an affordable price
  • is generally better tolerated by people

What about minoxidil pills?

Well, oral minoxidil might be effective as a treatment for hair loss.

However, as it is not FDA-approved it is quite hard to buy it.

That's why I think is better to first try topical minoxidil.

In case this one does not work, you might want to consider giving oral minoxidil a go.

However, remember those aspects:

  • oral minoxidil triggers significant side effects
  • you need a prescription to buy it
  • it might be effective, but further research needs to be done

So what is your choice? 

For me, topical minoxidil is a far better alternative.


1 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/-32622136/

2 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/-22189834/

3 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/-33639244/

4 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/-22409453/

5 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/-30155952/

Written by 

Sara is passionate about health, beauty and cosmetics. She likes to do research and to find new information about various medical topics. You can connect with her via Linkedin.

Last updated: April 27, 2023

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