Minoxidil (mi NOX i dill) is a clinically supported medication that’s proven to both improve hair growth and slow down the hair loss process. It’s most effective for regrowth along the top of your head and crown. According to clinical studies, it can actually make hair up to 35% thicker!
This hair-growth champion comes in a few different forms, including topical foam and solution. In recent years, there have been a lot of studies revolving around oral minoxidil, as well. The information below will help you understand the different forms a provider may prescribe.
Oral minoxidil started in the 70s as a treatment for high blood pressure. However, hypertrichosis – excessive hair growth – was found to be a common side effect among its users. This quickly led to the development of topical formulas for hair loss – more on those options below.
The standard dosage for patients taking the drug for high blood pressure is 10 to 40 mg daily. Early experiments of 10-40 mg oral minoxidil for hair loss caused unacceptable side effects, so people shifted focus to topical formulas, companies sought U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for topical options, and they became the norm.
However, a few years ago, Australian dermatologist Rod Sinclair began investigating oral dosages as low as 0.625 and 1.25 mg for hair loss. These dosages were successful at stopping hair shedding and regrowing hair with fewer side effects. This is what’s now referred to as “Low Dose Oral Minoxidil.” Although the FDA hasn’t approved Low Dose Oral Minoxidil, the FDA allows providers to prescribe this drug for hair loss, if they think it is clinically appropriate.
Low Dose Oral Minoxidil is in tablet form and is taken by mouth. It is available only with your provider’s prescription. Different doses have been used to treat hair loss, ranging from 1.25 mg to 5 mg daily in men and 0.25 mg to 2.5 mg daily in women, so what low dose oral minoxidil is prescribed will depend on your provider. Results may be visible within four to six months, but could also take up to six to eight months and tend to be stable at the one-year mark.
All medications have side effects, some serious. The potential adverse side effects associated with low dose oral minoxidil include
If you would like to learn more about low dose oral minoxidil, FDA approved labeling is available here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: HTTPS://WWW.FDA.GOV/SAFETY/MEDWATCH /default.htm or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
It wasn’t until the early aughts that a foam version of minoxidil hit the shelves. Minoxidil foam is thought to be the gentler version because the liquid version of minoxidil contains propylene glycol, a water-soluble alcohol that can sometimes cause redness and irritation on the skin. Other than that difference, the two versions have the same efficacy.
Some people find minoxidil foam to be the easiest topical option because it can be applied by hand, whereas the minoxidil solution requires a dropper tool. Minoxidil foam needs to be applied regularly. If a dose is missed, it should be applied as soon as possible. (Though patients can hold off and just apply the next dose as scheduled, if it’s almost time for it.) Men typically notice hair regrowth results within 4-6 months of consistent use, but results may vary.
Side effects of minoxidil foam can include redness, irritation, and itching at the site of application. If you would like to learn more about minoxidil foam, FDA approved labeling is available here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: HTTPS://WWW.FDA.GOV/SAFETY/MEDWATCH /default.htm or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
When you think of minoxidil, you probably think of it in a solution form. The liquid version was the first to become a commercial success in the 80’s.
It is dispensed from a bottle via a dropper directly to your scalp. Generally, people with sensitive skin should consider minoxidil foam because it is a gentler treatment option that is less likely to cause allergies or irritation. The good news is the solution has about the same results timeline as the foam. Men typically notice hair regrowth results within 4-6 months of consistent use, but results may vary.
The most common side effect with minoxidil solution is skin irritation. If you would like to learn more about minoxidil solution, FDA approved labeling is available here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: HTTPS://WWW.FDA.GOV/SAFETY/MEDWATCH /default.htm or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
There are a few different versions of minoxidil for hair loss. Oral minoxidil may be on the up and up, but the FDA-approved topical products are tried and true. Even better – the foam and liquid solutions are equally effective. The key is consistent use, regardless of what form a provider prescribes. In addition, there are more options beyond just minoxidil. For example, for patients who are experiencing overall hair loss and a receding hairline, providers will often recommend taking minoxidil together with another clinically supported hair-boosting medication, finasteride**.
In general, finding what’s right for you comes down to your preferences, your maintenance routine, and what your provider thinks is the optimal option to help you achieve your dream hair goals.
The following blog contains information about products that may or may not have been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as safe and effective for the condition being discussed. By providing such educational content, Thirty Madison, Inc. in no way supports or endorses the use of these products for such conditions. Such a determination must be made by a licensed clinician who may prescribe these products for such conditions because, in his, her, or their clinical judgment, use of the product is medically appropriate. The FDA approved product labeling may be found at https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov.
** Finasteride, Rx only, treats men’s hair loss, and may cause side effects, including sexual side effects and depression. Finasteride should never be taken by women. If you would like to learn more about finasteride, please see the full prescription information here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: https://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm or call 1-800-FDA-1088.) If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. If you are contemplating suicide, call 911 or call/text the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. These services are available 24/7.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.