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Oral Minoxidil Hair Treatment

Oral Minoxidil hair treatment is a hair loss medication prescribed for hair loss conditions like androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern hair loss.

Unlike the topical variation, low-dose oral Minoxidil requires a prescription. We only prescribe this medication following a detailed consultation to assess if a patient is a suitable candidate for this low-dosage treatment.

To find out if oral minoxidil is right for you, book a free Zoom consultation with Dr Bonaros — a leading hair loss specialist and hair transplant surgeon in Glasgow.

Hair loss and anxiety dr bonaros glasgow

Table of Contents

  1. How Oral Minoxidil Works
  2. Using Oral Minoxidil for Hair Loss
    1. Oral Minoxidil Dosage
    2. Oral Minoxidil Results
    3. Oral Minoxidil Side Effects
  3. Oral Minoxidil vs Topical Minoxidil
    1. Advantages of Low-Dose Oral Minoxidil Over Topical Therapy
  4. Oral Minoxidil for Hair Loss — Frequently Asked Questions
    1. Where can I get low-dose oral minoxidil in the UK?
    2. Who is suitable for an oral minoxidil prescription?
    3. When should oral minoxidil be avoided?
    4. Should I use topical minoxidil or oral minoxidil for alopecia areata and other hair loss conditions?
    5. Are minoxidil tablets UK-licensed?
    6. How long does oral minoxidil take to work?
    7. Is oral minoxidil suitable for long-term usage?
  5. Dr Bonaros: An Expert Hair Loss Specialist Who Genuinely Cares

How Oral Minoxidil Works

Oral Minoxidil was originally developed in the 1970s to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). However, during the clinical trial period, researchers noted an unexpected side effect — hypertrichosis, or excessive hair growth.

While it’s not fully understood how minoxidil promotes hair growth, the most common theory is that it prolongs the anagen phase, also known as the ‘growth phase’ or ‘active phase’ in the hair growth cycle.

The results of this hair loss treatment vary among patients, but oral minoxidil for hair loss generally produces the following effects:

  • Slows the reduction of the hair follicle size
  • Causes vasodilation, thus improving circulation
  • Prolongs the hair follicles’ anagen phase 
  • Increases nutrient-dense blood flow around hair follicles
  • Stimulates the growth of hair

Oral minoxidil effectively treats hair loss through decreased hair shedding and increased scalp hair growth. However, it’s important to note that oral minoxidil only slows down or stops the hair loss process — it doesn’t cure hair loss completely.

Using Oral Minoxidil for Hair Loss

Before deciding whether a minoxidil treatment for hair loss is right for you, there are a few factors to consider.

Finasteride for hair loss Side effects and dosage. Dr Bonaros hair transplant surgeon in Glasgow

Oral Minoxidil Dosage

Oral minoxidil is a tablet that is usually taken once or twice a day as an effective treatment for androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) and other hair loss conditions like telogen effluvium (excessive hair loss caused by several potential factors, including stress).

The dosage of your oral minoxidil treatment is specific to the current state of your hair loss condition, so this will be determined after a detailed consultation with Dr Bonaros. It also depends on your biological sex, as female patients generally receive low doses compared to males.

When it comes to oral minoxidil dosage for male hair loss, the standard dosage ranges from 0.25 mg up to 5 mg daily. For women with female pattern hair loss, the recommended dosage ranges from 0.25 mg to 2.5 mg.

Oral Minoxidil Results

Hair loss conditions like traction alopecia (hair loss from tightly-pulled hairstyles) and male and female pattern hair loss are known to cause low self-esteem. At Dr Bonaros’ hair transplant clinic, our goal is to effectively treat hair loss with safe and reliable methods. That’s why we work closely with patients to ensure the correct dosage is given when prescribing oral minoxidil to treat hair disorders.

Patients who have been prescribed minoxidil tablets for hair loss can expect to see a significant increase in hair thickness, improved global hair density, and eventual new hair growth.

While oral minoxidil for hair growth is an emerging method for treating alopecia and related hair disorders, it’s important to note that this treatment won’t cure your hair loss entirely.

Hairline transplant result

Oral Minoxidil Side Effects

There are several side effects to keep in mind before undergoing an oral minoxidil hair loss treatment. Some adverse effects of oral minoxidil use include the following:

  • One of the first and most notable side effects at the start of oral minoxidil treatment is initial hair shedding. While this may cause concern, the shedding usually subsides after about four to six weeks.
  • Excess hair growth (hypertrichosis) on the face, arms, and other parts of the body is another common side effect. This can be especially prevalent with higher doses. It is also the reason that topical minoxidil is the preferred starting treatment.
  • Low blood pressure or feeling lightheaded is often recorded as another side effect, especially notable when standing up too quickly. The initial intention of this medicine was to treat high blood pressure and hypertension. Therefore, even at lower doses of minoxidil, those with regular blood pressure may experience these side effects.
  • Swelling in your legs, also known as lower limb oedema, is caused by your body retaining water and sodium. This fluid retention and its results can also be expected in some cases of using minoxidil for hair loss.
  • Another reported side effect is tachycardia — a rapid increase in heart rate that surpasses 100 beats per minute. This is due to the automatic response of the body’s sympathetic nervous system to vasodilators like minoxidil.
  • Other general side effects of this oral therapy can include heart palpitations, dizziness, and tiredness.

Oral Minoxidil vs Topical Minoxidil

Topical minoxidil is commonly recognised and used in the treatment of hair loss conditions like female and male androgenetic alopecia. Low-dose oral minoxidil has recently gained more attention as an alternative treatment for certain types of hair loss. Both forms aim to prolong the anagen phase of the follicles to enhance growth. This is due to minoxidil’s vasodilatory properties, which involve the dilation of blood vessels, resulting in increased blood flow.

The main difference between the two treatment options is that oral minoxidil is in a tablet form which is absorbed into the bloodstream, whereas topical minoxidil is applied directly to the affected area and acts locally.

Despite their different forms, both oral and topical minoxidil rely on the sulfotransferase enzyme, SULT1A1, to function. Found in the liver, and sometimes also hair follicles, this enzyme converts minoxidil to its active form, also known as minoxidil sulphate.

Minoxidil treatment

Some people may not have the correct enzyme in their hair follicles to activate the topical minoxidil treatment. In such cases, oral medication may be more effective in treating hair loss.

Another key difference to note is accessibility. Oral minoxidil requires a full doctor’s consultation to assess if you are a suitable candidate before an oral minoxidil prescription can be issued, while topical minoxidil is available over the counter.

Advantages of Low-Dose Oral Minoxidil Over Topical Therapy

Both oral and topical minoxidil are proven to be effective treatments for hair loss. However, there are several benefits of taking oral minoxidil instead of its topical counterpart. Most notably, oral minoxidil tends to be more effective than topical minoxidil when prescribed appropriately. Other key considerations include the following:

  • It is more convenient to take a tablet than to apply a topical formulation, which needs time to dry (usually about two hours), has to stay on for at least four hours, and can potentially leave a residue on your scalp.
  • Taking minoxidil orally is more cost-effective, as the tablets are cheaper to purchase than the topical solution or foam. This is especially useful considering that minoxidil for hair disorders has to be used on a long-term basis.
  • Since prescriptions are required for minoxidil tablets, your treatment is more closely overseen through regular checkups with a healthcare professional. This enables increased medical guidance and easy dosage adjustment, so you can get the best results possible.
  • Oral minoxidil offers you more flexibility in your daily life because you do not have to worry about the timing of hair treatment procedures like perming or dyeing your hair. With a topical formulation, you need to wash your scalp before any procedures and cannot apply minoxidil for 24 hours before or after it takes place.
  • When using oral minoxidil, you have more freedom to apply topical products to help cover up any patchiness or bald spots on the scalp. Being able to use these techniques in conjunction with your medication helps to improve the overall appearance of your hair.

For more information about using low-dose oral minoxidil for hair loss, call our clinic on 07708 627966, or book a free Zoom consultation with Dr Bonaros.

Oral Minoxidil for Hair Loss — Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get low-dose oral minoxidil in the UK?

Because oral minoxidil is a prescription-only medication, you will be required to have a consultation with a doctor to assess if you are a suitable candidate before the prescription of low-dose oral minoxidil can be supplied.

During your initial medical assessment, it’s essential that you:

  • Mention all medication you are currently taking, as it could adversely interact with or impact the efficacy of your minoxidil oral therapy. Minoxidil was originally developed as an antihypertensive, so an example of an adverse interaction could be if you have high blood pressure and are already taking medication to treat this. If such medication is combined with minoxidil, your blood pressure could be lowered to an unsafe level.
  • Make your doctor aware of any health conditions you have. Oral minoxidil can sometimes cause a fast-paced heart rate. If you have underlying heart conditions like angina, minoxidil could increase your risk of cardiac issues and therefore, may not be the right method for treating your hair loss.

If your doctor thinks minoxidil tablets are a viable treatment for your androgenetic alopecia or other hair loss disorders, you will receive a prescription. However, you will be required to have regular check-ups to monitor the treatment process and any effects (both positive and negative) it has.

If you are looking for minoxidil tablets in the UK to treat your hair loss, contact us to book a consultation with Dr Bonaros at his Glasgow clinic.

Who is suitable for an oral minoxidil prescription?

Oral minoxidil is usually only prescribed to healthy men and women who cannot tolerate or comply with topical minoxidil. An example of intolerance could be an allergic reaction to the propylene glycol present in minoxidil topical solution that causes scalp irritation and itchiness.

Lack of compliance, on the other hand, could refer to challenges faced by patients when applying the topical treatment. The recommended application process involves evenly applying (but not massaging) the minoxidil solution or foam to a dry scalp and leaving it to sit for at least four hours.

Patients with DUPA and alopecia areata are not good hair transplant candidates
Patients with DUPA and Alopecia Areata

Oral minoxidil is also considered for men who are concerned about or have already experienced sexual side effects from finasteride. As another of the oral therapies commonly used to treat hair loss, finasteride works by stopping testosterone from converting into dihydrotestosterone, the hormone responsible for preventing hair growth.

When should oral minoxidil be avoided?

When properly prescribed, Minoxidil in oral form is a safe and effective treatment for hair loss. However, it is not recommended for people with an allergy to the medicine and those with a rare type of neuroendocrine tumour known as a pheochromocytoma.

In addition, oral minoxidil for hair loss is not recommended for elderly and pregnant patients, or for candidates with high blood pressure, cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure or angina, or kidney disease.

Do you have more questions about whether minoxidil tablets are suitable for you? For expert advice you can trust, get in touch with us regarding the usage of oral minoxidil as a treatment for hair loss.

Should I use topical minoxidil or oral minoxidil for alopecia areata and other hair loss conditions?

Both oral and topical minoxidil can treat hair loss due to alopecia areata — an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles and results in hair loss. If the topical minoxidil does not have the desired effect or is not tolerated well, oral minoxidil may be a more effective medication for hair loss.

Those with conditions like loose anagen hair syndrome or alopecia areata who have tried topical minoxidil with no success may benefit from minoxidil pills for hair loss.

It is important to consult a doctor to determine the most effective and safe hair loss treatment with minoxidil for your current state of health. Oral minoxidil is not safe for pregnant individuals to consume. Because minoxidil can be excreted into breast milk in very low concentrations, oral treatment is contra-indicated during breastfeeding.

Are minoxidil tablets UK-licensed?

Minoxidil is officially recognised as a medication for hypertension (the condition it was originally developed to combat). However, in terms of hair loss treatment, minoxidil in oral form is not licensed in the UK. Despite this, it is still safe to use under the guidance of a medical professional and is commonly prescribed off-label to combat several hair disorders, specifically male and female-patterned hair loss.

How long does oral minoxidil take to work?

hair transplant results photos before after images Dr Bonaros Glasgow Scotland

The hair-growth effects of oral minoxidil can take anywhere between 6 and 12 months to present. It is important to note that the effects of taking minoxidil orally are not permanent and that hair loss may continue once treatment stops. This is a result of your hair gradually returning to its previous growth cycle and takes place over three to four months after minoxidil discontinuation.

Is oral minoxidil suitable for long-term usage?

The average oral minoxidil dose for hair loss starts at 0.25 mg and increases to a maximum of 5 mg. These amounts fall within the range of what is known as ‘low dose’ oral minoxidil. This is because they are significantly lower than the doses prescribed for high blood pressure, which average between 5 mg and 40 mg per day but have the capacity to go up to 100 mg.

Since such low doses of minoxidil are used to combat hair disorders, it is safe for patients to take this medication long-term. Once you have a prescription, you can easily buy oral minoxidil in the UK. Your oral minoxidil dosage will be monitored by a healthcare professional through regular checkups and may be adjusted if necessary.

If you do not experience any potentially dangerous side effects, you will receive repeat prescriptions for these tablets, so you can continue your treatment for hair loss with minoxidil. This will provide you with a long-term solution for your hair thinning or loss that helps to improve your overall quality of life.

Do you have a question about the minoxidil hair regrowth treatment that we haven’t answered? View our Topical Minoxidil page for more information on that route, or fill in our free Online Assessment Form for a tailored treatment plan from Dr Bonaros based on your unique hair condition.

Dr Bonaros: An Expert Hair Loss Specialist Who Genuinely Cares

Dr Bonaros is a highly experienced hair transplant surgeon, serving as Scotland’s only International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) member and as a full member of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS).

Led by Dr Epameinondas Bonaros, our clinic specialises in hair restoration through FUE hair transplants and prescription medication. For a medication-based approach, Dr Bonaros can advise on a hair loss treatment with Minoxidil (oral or topical), Finasteride, Dutasteride, or a combination therapy.

With our patient-centred approach, we treat your hair loss concerns with both empathy and professionalism. We provide ethical advice tailored to every patient’s unique needs. This allows us to deliver satisfying results that effectively treat hair disorders and help patients regain their confidence.

Topical treatments and low-dose minoxidil pills have proven effective in treating hair loss caused by conditions like androgenetic and traction alopecia and loose anagen syndrome. Book an appointment with Dr Bonaros for tailored advice on whether the oral minoxidil hair treatment will work for you.

Dr Epameinondas Bonaros hair transplant surgeon in Glasgow, Scotland