Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss – Do Its Pills & Tablets Work Better?

Let's talk about oral minoxidil for hair loss and its effectiveness.

If you are struggling with hair loss, you probably know that minoxidil is one of the available treatments.

However, minoxidil can be found in two forms – topical and oral.

The questions you might have in mind are:

  • How does oral minoxidil work?
  • How good it the topical version?
  • Do its pills & tablets work better?
  • What does the research say about it

Well, this article will answer those questions and give you the necessary information.

Note. This article is based on my own research on oral minoxidil for hair loss.

Oral Minoxidil For Hair Loss (In A Nutshell)

Minoxidil is one of the well-known treatments used for hair loss. 

This treatment has two versions, the topical and the oral one.

This article provides you with the information you need before you start using oral minoxidil.

So let's look at what really sells this hair loss treatment:

  • can treat various types of hair loss
  • improves hair growth
  • strengthens the hair

Oral minoxidil seems promising, right?

Well, it can indeed be an effective treatment for hair loss.

Actually, oral minoxidil might treat more types of hair loss – like pattern hair loss.

However, those benefits come together with the drawbacks that oral minoxidil has:

  • triggers quite a lot of side effects
  • is not FDA-approved as a treatment for hair loss (only for hypertension)
  • you need a prescription in order to buy it 
  • there is a limited number of brands that produce it

What's more, there is not much research done on this product.

So, its efficiency and safety need to be further investigated.

That's why I recommend you to try topical minoxidil before you go for the oral version.

The topical one is safer and easier to find. 

Yet, if you still want to try the tablets, remember to talk to your doctor first.

In this way, you make sure that oral minoxidil is the proper treatment for you.



How Minoxidil Works

Initially, oral minoxidil was designed for those who suffer from hypertension.

Later on, research showed that oral minoxidil can be efficient in treating hair loss too.

However, topical minoxidil appeared first, which means that the oral version is quite new.

So in which cases are minoxidil pills recommended?

Well, there are certain circumstances in which 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

Yes, I recommend you first try the topical version and only then the oral one.

That's because the topical version is safer.

We will talk about the side effects that oral minoxidil causes later.

Yet, the question that remains is how oral minoxidil works or what is its mechanism of action.

Well, its mechanism of action is similar to that of topical minoxidil.

However, oral minoxidil is an internal treatment, not an external one.

This is how it works:

  • is a vasodilator (that's the reason why is used as an antihypertensive)
  • reduces hair shedding and increases hair length
  • also makes hair stronger and reduces breakage 
  • prevents hair loss and boosts hair growth

As you can see, oral minoxidil might have similar effects as the topical version.

Moreover, both women and men can use it for treating hair loss.

What types of hair loss does it treat? Well, we will see in a minute.

Until then, keep in mind that oral minoxidil is a potential treatment for hair growth.

That's why some dermatologists prescribe it.



Types Of Hair Loss It Treats

Hair loss is quite a serious problem that affects your confidence.

Moreover, this problem can have various cases and can be of different types.

So, in this section, we will look at the types of hair loss oral minoxidil can treat.

Unfortunately, it's not suitable for all types of hair loss.

But it can help you in some cases:

  • patter hair loss [1]
  • telogen effluvium
  • traction alopecia
  • loose anagen syndrome

I know, these names are quite difficult. So, let me explain them to you.

Of course, we will take them in order.

Pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia is a genetically predetermined disorder.

This means that if one of your family members suffers from this, you might suffer too in the future.

Here are a few more details about this disorder:

  • affects both women and men
  • is caused by the excessive response to androgens (a type of hormone)
  • can appear any time after puberty
  • is a progressive loss of terminal hair of the scalp

Now, let's move on to the second type of hair loss, telogen effluvium.

This is a scalp disorder characterized by excessive shedding of hair.

Some of the factors that can lead to the development of telogen effluvium are the following:

  • drugs
  • trauma
  • emotional and psychological stress

The third type of hair loss is traction alopecia.

This is hair loss due to repetitive tension on the hair.

If you suffer from this disorder you might experience symptoms like:

  • itching
  • bumps
  • redness of the scalp

Last, but not least, let's talk about loose anagen syndrome.

This is a hair disorder characterized by the detachment of anagen-staged hairs from the scalp.

It can be genetically inherited or it can appear spontaneously.

So, these are the types of hair loss that you might manage to treat with oral minoxidil.

If you try it or not, it's your decision!



Oral Minoxidil Benefits

Now it's time to see what are the benefits of oral minoxidil.

As I told you already, oral minoxidil and topical version work in similar ways.

This means that their benefits are also similar.

However, there are also some differences between the two (when it comes to their benefits).

First of all, let's start with the benefits that the versions have in common:

  • treat various types of hair loss [2]
  • strengthen the hair 
  • improve hair growth

Both forms of minoxidil have these effects.

Yet, oral minoxidil has some benefits that the topical version doesn't have.

Those benefits mostly refer to the way minoxidil pills are used:

  • oral minoxidil is easier to use
  • that's because you only need to take one or two pills per day
  • so you are not stressed about other details 
  • in the case of topical minoxidil, there are more details that you need to remember

Overall, I think that oral minoxidil has pretty many benefits.

However, I can say the same things about topical minoxidil.

Now, the question that remains is which of the two has more downsides. 

In fact, this is exactly what we will talk about immediately.

Until then, keep in mind all the benefits that oral minoxidil has!



Oral Minoxidil Downsides

Like any other product, minoxidil has its downside.

Firstly, I have to take into consideration the side effects that minoxidil pills trigger.

Then, it is important to mention the disadvantages related to its availability.

However, before diving into the discussion about these let me tell you something.

Oral minoxidil like the topical version is a lifelong treatment.

That means that once you stop the treatment your hair will stop growing too.

Now, let's have a look at the possible side effects that you might experience if you take oral minoxidil.

I will divide those into two categories, common ones, and less common ones.

Here are the common side effects:

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

As you can see, even the common side effects are quite many.

Also, some of them definitely are not desirable – especially excessive hair growth in unwanted places.

So if you want to try oral minoxidil, you need to know what you have to deal with.

The less common side effects are the following:

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

Besides these, we need to consider the factor of availability.

In order words, let's see how easy it is to obtain oral minoxidil!

Before that, I have to tell you something more. 

Oral minoxidil is FDA-approved for hypertension, but not as a treatment for hair loss.

This means that it is quite hard to buy:

  • you need a prescription
  • there are a limited number of brands that produce it
  • you can only find it in pharmacies

As you can observe, oral minoxidil has quite a lot of disadvantages.

That's why I advise you to try topical minoxidil first, which is available in many stores.

Also, the topical version is superior as it doesn't trigger severe side effects.

However, if you still want to give oral minoxidil a go, don't forget that you need a doctor's consent.



Oral Minoxidil & Research

Now let's see what research says about oral minoxidil and its benefits for hair loss.

Or, on the contrary, its drawbacks…

Well, first of all, I have to say that when it comes to oral minoxidil research is limited. [4]

That's because, as I said, oral minoxidil wasn't used as a treatment for hair loss until recently.

So we have to add this aspect to the list of the disadvantages of oral minoxidil.

However, the research that was done claims the following:

  • oral minoxidil can be a good treatment for hair loss
  • yet, it should be taken in moderate quantities
  • people who tried it had pretty good results
  • it causes several side effects (I mentioned some of them)

What you need to keep in mind is that there are few studies that confirm its results.

Also, even the researchers sustain that the safety of this product needs to be further investigated.

So, things are not that clear when it comes to oral minoxidil.

That's why, I suggest you try it after you talk to your doctor to make sure that this is a good option.

It is better to be cautious than to be sorry, right?



How To Use It

Here come the instructions you need to follow in case you want to try oral minoxidil.

However, remember that those are general instructions.

Only your doctor can tell you what dosage is the most suitable for the type of hair loss you have.

In fact, minoxidil pills are pretty easy to use. You probably know that already.

Yet, there are a few things you need to pay attention to before you start your treatment:

  1. Take minoxidil tablets cautiously if you also take drugs for blood pressure.
  2. That's because minoxidil is also used as an antihypertensive.
  3. So, it can interfere with other drugs.

Moreover, there are certain situations in which you should avoid taking oral minoxidil:

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

Now, let me tell you exactly how to take oral minoxidil.

However, before that, you need to know something. Oral minoxidil can be found in 3 dosages.

These are 2.5 mg, 5 mg and 10 mg.

As this drug was designed for hypertension, there isn't a standard dosage for hair loss.

However, the dosages are different for men and women:

  • 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

How should you take oral minoxidil?

Well, I kept you waiting long enough, so, here are the instructions:

  • Take the pills by mouth with or without food or water.
  • The dosages are listed above.
  • You need to cut the pills into halves or quarters to take the exact dose.
  • Take it once or twice per day according to your doctor's instructions.
  • Once you start the treatment avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Now you have all the information you need.

So, you are ready to try oral minoxidil if you want.

Yet, keep in mind that the topical version is a better alternative, so consider trying it first.



Final Conclusion

In short, oral minoxidil for hair loss can be an effective treatment.

However, if you want to try minoxidil, I advise you to first give the topical version a go.

That's because topical minoxidil is safer and doesn't have that many downsides.

Let me mention again some of the disadvantages of minoxidil pills:

  • is FDA- approved as a treatment for hypertension (not for hair loss)
  • causes several side effects
  • you can find it only in pharmacies
  • you can't buy it without a doctor's prescription
  • the research is limited

It is true that oral minoxidil has benefits as well.

It can treat hair loss, improve hair growth, and, besides, it is quite easy to use.

Yet, safety comes first and you should think carefully before you try it.

In case you want to give it a go, no matter the reasons, don't forget to talk to a doctor.

So, what do you think? Is oral minoxidil worh trying?



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

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

3 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/-pmc/articles/-PMC9650732/

4 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/-33376283/

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: May 9, 2023

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