ORAL MINOXIDIL VS. TOPICAL MINOXIDIL (ROGAINE)
Let’s start by stating what Minoxidil is. In the past, Minoxidil was commonly used orally to treat high blood pressure in a much higher dose. It is a type of drug that belongs to the vasodilators family, which help dilate or open blood vessels to help blood flow more freely. Oral Minoxidil, used to treat hair loss, is a side effect of the medication and has no effect on blood pressure for most people.
When we start thinking about hair loss, taking a vasodilator makes sense. Opening up the blood vessels allows blood to flow more freely, including to the scalp. We know that blood carries all of the nutrients our follicles need to grow, so more blood flow leads to more nutrients being delivered, which, in theory, means more hair growth.
Two forms of Minoxidil
Minoxidil can be taken orally or topically, and it’s essential to know the pros and cons of each method before going forward.
The most common form of Minoxidil taken for hair loss purposes is topical. Topical Minoxidil, commonly known as Rogaine, can come in a foam or a serum and is applied to the scalp directly 1-2x per day, as needed. However, it is essential to note that your scalp may not absorb all of the medication, leaving potential results on the table. The topical form of Minoxidil is easier to attain as a consumer and can be found as an over-the-counter medication, meaning no prescription or medical consultation is required. However, we highly recommend always consulting your physician before taking any medication.
Recent research states that oral Minoxidil is 7-10x more potent than taking it topically. The oral form of the medication will give you results without worrying if your scalp absorbs all the medication. Once you start this medication, you need to be on it indefinitely; however, it is safe to take it long-term. If you stop taking this medication, your hair will likely revert to its original state of thinning or balding. An important consideration is that Minoxidil can stimulate hair growth everywhere you typically grow hair when taken orally. This is something to consider for female patients before starting this medication.
So which is better?
From a medical and results-oriented standpoint, we prefer prescribing oral Minoxidil at a very low dose to mitigate areas of diffuse thinning and increase the density of the follicles from the inside out. This also sets patients up for success if they choose to have a hair transplant. Minoxidil can promote a thicker and fuller donor site, which means better graft quality for harvesting hair for transplant, and enabling you to get the results you want and desire.
From a convenience standpoint, topical Minoxidil may be better for people who like to avoid oral medications. Though not as effective, topical Minoxidil can be acquired over the counter, and hair growth will only occur where you apply it.
As always, we recommend you consult with a physician, specifically one who specializes in hair restoration, to best serve your needs. It is in your best interest to determine if you are a candidate for Minoxidil before starting to take it blindly. But you’re in luck! Here at Saratoga Hair, we offer FREE virtual or in-person consultations. Consult with us today to start your hair restoration journey!