Topical minoxidil was FDA approved in 1987 and we now have 30 years of experience with the drug.
I'm increasingly asked about oral minoxidil. Does it work? Is it safe? What dose?
Oral minoxidil is not FDA approved for treating hair loss. It was used in the 1980s for treating high blood pressure. When used at doses typical for treating blood pressure problems (5 mg twice daily), it can be associated with side effects - some quite serious. These include dizziness, low blood pressure, weight gain from fluid retention, high heart rate, heart rhythm problems. And of course hair growth can occur all over the body.
Lower doses of oral minoxidil may be safer and may still provide benefit. Doses ranging from 0.25 mg daily to up to 1 mg daily are generally well tolerated without a significantly increased risk of side effects. One does need to be closely monitored for blood pressure, weight changes, heart rate and excess hair growth on the body. For women, low dose minoxidil can be combined with spironolactone. In men low dose minoxidil can be combined with lower doses of finasteride.
Oral minoxidil is increasingly popular as men and women look for safer options for treating hair loss. Side effects of oral minoxidil must be respected and use of the medication must only be done in conjunction with a physician experienced in the use of oral minoxidil. Close monitoring is essential.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299