Most of us have heard of using minoxidil, brand name Rogaine, as a topical treatment for scalp hair loss. But have you heard of taking the tablet form of minoxidil to take by mouth to treat scalp hair loss?
Topical minoxidil has typically been the standard for treating hair loss, but it is often messy, can cause a rash, can change hair texture and timing of application can be tricky. So now, low-dose oral minoxidil (LDOM) is gaining popularity as an alternative to topical use.
What Is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil was originally synthesized as an antihypertensive drug. It became popular in treating hair loss after clinical trials noticed increased hair growth among the side effects, leading to its standard usage as a topical treatment for hair loss disorders in products that lead the OTC hair loss treatment market, like Rogaine.
The downside of using topical minoxidil in some cases, is possible skin irritation or allergy. It can also potentially cause poor hair texture and be an overall inconvenience to use. There are also clients who will not see results from topical minoxidil because they lack the correct enzyme in their hair follicles to activate the medication.
Oral Minoxidil for Hair Loss
All of these potential issues have led physicians to consider other options, including prescribing oral minoxidil as an off-label solution to hair loss. Though minoxidil is approved by the FDA to treat hair loss in topical form, it has not been approved for oral use for hair loss. The drug is, however, FDA-approved as an oral treatment for high blood pressure, in higher doses.
Studies in 2021 and 2022 both found that low dose oral minoxidil (dosed between .25 and 5 mg per day) to be a well-tolerated and effective therapy for treating hair disorders in patients with normal blood pressure. A November 2022 study found oral minoxidil to be superior to topical minoxidil for improved scalp hair growth.
Patients receiving higher dosages (5 or more mg a day) reported experiencing more side effects, including hypertrichosis (excessive hair) and leg swelling. Temporary shedding has also been reported as a potential side effect of minoxidil. This side effect occurs within the first 6 weeks and is said to cease after four weeks. It is recommended to continue using minoxidil even when experiencing shedding.
Other Uses of Oral Minoxidil
Oral minoxidil has also been used to treat hair loss in cancer patients in clinical studies with promising results and few complications. Oral Minoxidil can be used in conjunction with finasteride (Propecia) in men only to promote scalp hair growth.
In addition to utilizing topical or oral low dose minoxidil for our patients who have significant scalp hair loss, we also offer platelet rich plasm injections (PRP) and Nutrafol, which can also be used in conjunction with minoxidil. Shop Nutrafol here.
If you would like to make an appointment for a free consultation with Dr. Michelle Parsons, M.D. or Dr. Bianca Conti, M.D. see please give us a call for an appointment at 302-227-1079 or book online here. The $25 booking fee is refundable or may be applied to your treatment.