Oral Minoxidil, new treatment for male and female baldness: new use of an old drug – Dr Anastasia Therianou

Oral Minoxidil, new treatment for male and female baldness: new use of an old drug

3 Dec 2019

Minoxidil is a drug originally used to treat high blood pressure. Interestingly, it was found out that one of the side effects of this medicine is to increase the hair growth, so it was started to be used as a topical treatment in Androgenetic alopecia (baldness). The use of topical minoxidil is the only approved treatment for female pattern hair loss, in other words baldness in women and it is one of the just 2 approved treatments for male baldness. How it works it is not fully understood, but it is probably due to increasing blood flow to the roots of the hairs. This way it makes hair longer and thicker and it stops it from falling.

Topical minoxidil is available 2% and 5%, both as a lotion and foam, and anyone can buy it over the counter in most pharmacies. Can also be found online which could be cheaper. It is considered as a safe treatment, with very few, mild side effects. However several times people find that the use of topical version could make their hair greasy, fuzzy and it is not uncommon to develop irritation of the scalp with associated itching and burning sensation. There are also reports of patients whom become allergic to it. As a result they stop using this topical treatment and try to find other options to stop hair loss and improve the appearance of their hair. There are many off-licence treatment options available for baldness and based on each individual’s severity of condition, other medical issues, as well as considering many other factors, every hair expert proposes the best options for every patient.

The oral version of minoxidil is a relatively new off-label treatment option. The approved indication for oral minoxidil is severe high blood pressure unresponsive to standard treatment. In terms of side effects, it can lower the blood pressure, it can increase the fluids in the body and it can also increase the heart rate. Nowadays, there have been several studies over the world to support that if it is used in a very low dose in both female or male baldness, it is an efficient and safe treatment, and many hair experts have start prescribing it to their patients.

This treatment should not been used during pregnancy or in women whom are trying to conceive. Moreover people with heart problems such as heart failure, angina or recent heart attack, or patient with phaeochromocytoma, significant kidney problems or acute porphyria may not be suitable for this type of treatment.

If you don’t like applying the lotion or the foam once or twice a day, if every time you use it makes your scalp itchy, if you have fed up using it, or even if you think that it does not work, then oral minoxidil might be a suitable treatment for you.

If you would like to discuss this treatment option further, or you want to see what other alternative treatments are available, book a consultation with Dr Anastasia, expert in hair disorders.

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