Oral Minoxidil: New treatment for male and female baldness: new use of an old drug
3 Dec 2019
What is oral minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a drug originally used to treat high blood pressure. Interestingly, it was found that one of the side effects of the medicine is to increase hair growth, so it was then used as a topical treatment for Androgenetic alopecia (baldness) many years ago.
The use of topical minoxidil is the only approved treatment for female pattern hair loss, in other words, female baldness. It is also one of the only 2 approved treatments for male baldness.
Finasteride is the other approved treatment in men. Clinicians also use it in other hair disorders such as in telogen effluvium, in alopecia areata, in traction alopecia and others. Topical minoxidil is available in 2% and 5%, both as a lotion and foam.
Oral minoxidil is only approved for high blood pressure but has been used off-label in some hair disorders too over the last few years.
How does oral minoxidil work?
How it works is not fully understood, but it is probably due to the increased blood flow to the roots of the hairs. This makes hair longer and thicker and stops it from falling out.
When can you use oral minoxidil?
In several cases, people may find that the use of topical versions can make their hair greasy, fuzzy and it is not uncommon to develop irritation of the scalp along with associated itching and a burning sensation.
There are also reports of patients who 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. Oral minoxidil can be used instead when topical minoxidil cannot be used for all the above reasons.
Is oral minoxidil safe?
Nowadays, there have been several studies around the world to support that if oral minoxidil 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 started prescribing it to their patients.
The doses we use for hair loss are low and overall, it is considered to be a safe treatment. The most common side effects are increased hair on other areas of the body, ankle swelling, headaches, and a skin rash.
Who should not use oral minoxidil?
Oral minoxidil should not be used during pregnancy or in women trying to conceive. People with cardiovascular diseases should avoid it.
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.
There are many other off-license treatment options available for baldness and based on each individual’s severity of the condition, other medical issues, as well as considering many other factors, every hair expert proposes the best options for every patient.
How should oral minoxidil be taken?
This medication is taken by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once or twice a day. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Follow hair loss expert instructions carefully before you take it. It may take several months before you get the full benefit of this drug and it requires monitoring by your dermatologist.
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 are 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 Therianou, an expert in hair disorders, by phone: 02034684884 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.