How Does Oral Minoxidil Help Hair Loss?

Written by Dr. Griffin

With all the buzz surrounding oral minoxidil as a new treatment option, many patients are likely wondering: “Does oral minoxidil actually work better?” Our Philadelphia-based team at Griffin Hair Restoration Center sees many patients who are curious about whether this trending hair loss solution truly delivers.

For decades, minoxidil has been available in its topical form as a treatment for hair loss. It is commonly used in a serum or foam form for pattern baldness. Although the way in which minoxidil promotes hair growth is still not fully understood, it is believed that it stimulates hair follicles that are in the resting stage, promoting the growth of fuller and healthier hair. 

Minoxidil is a vasodilator, meaning that it opens blood vessels. The medicine reverses the miniaturisation of follicles, increases the supply of blood and oxygen to hair follicles on the scalp, triggers follicles to enter the growth phase, and extends the length of the growth phase.

Although it has been traditionally used topically, many experts now believe that the oral version of this medicine in the form of low-dose pills may be a more effective, less expensive, and low-risk alternative for regrowing hair. Oral minoxidil is also sometimes used to treat high blood pressure. While it is approved by the FDA in to address hair loss in its topical form, oral minoxidil is prescribed as an off-label use, meaning that this other use has not received FDA approval. 

Off-label uses of hair loss treatments are very common and tend to be well-researched and safe, especially if they are administered properly. For years, practitioners have been prescribing oral minoxidil with a high success rate among patients and without frustrating side effects associated with the topical form, such as irritation or a residue left on the scalp or hair. Approximately 65 to 70 percent of patients will see improvement using a low dose of minoxidil—without significant side effects.

Note that oral minoxidil may not necessarily be effective for every case of hair loss, with improvement depending on how severe the problem is. It is only meant for patients who have thinning hair—not those who are fully bald. The effects are temporary and last for as long as you’re taking the medication. Possible side effects include hair growth in other areas, edema, headaches, light headedness, and rapid heart rate.

The only way to know for sure whether this option is right for you is to see a hair loss specialist, such as Dr. Thomas Griffin, who may prescribe other topical or oral therapies first. 

Call (215) 561-9100 or submit a contact form to arrange a visit and get more information.