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Oral Minoxidil vs Topical: 5 Things That Make Them Different

How are oral minoxidil tablets and topical minoxidil different? Which one works better for hair loss? Learn more here.

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Minoxidil is one of the most common active ingredients for hair loss treatment or hair growth enhancement.

You may be familiar with Minoxidil as the active ingredient inside the OTC product, Rogaine.

While most people are familiar with Minoxidil in this topical formulation, you may not know that Minoxidil actually exists in tablet form as well.

Both the topical and oral formulations of Minoxidil have been found to work for hair growth, but there are still some distinct differences that will help someone choose one form over the other.

Below, we will cover 5 of the main differences between oral Minoxidil tablets and topical Minoxidil formulations.

1. How you use them

Topical Minoxidil can be a gel, lotion, or foam applied to the scalp and left on the scalp for at least 4 hours or overnight, to allow the medication to sink in and work on the hair follicles.

Oral Minoxidil is a tablet medication that you take by mouth.

Since topical Minoxidil may leave the hair looking wet, sticky, or “crunchy”, some people may not like to use it topically, and would rather wash and style their hair without having to think about having a Minoxidil product in it. The appearance of the hair is one of the reasons why someone may consider oral Minoxidil over topical.

2. How often you use them

It is often instructed to use topical Minoxidil on the scalp once or twice daily. Twice daily usage may improve the ultimate results for some users.

Oral minoxidil, on the other hand, is always only a once-daily dosing schedule.

If you are someone who always forgets to use their medications, the once-daily oral dosage may make it easier for you to use Minoxidil as prescribed.

3. The prescription status

Topical Minoxidil can be found over the counter (OTC) in strengths of 2% and 5%. However, sometimes you may find Minoxidil inside of compounded hair loss formulations at higher strengths, or combined with prescription-only ingredients, which makes the entire formulation now a prescription-only product. 

Our compounded Topical Finasteride, Topical Dutasteride, and Women’s Hair Growth formulas all contain Minoxidil mixed with prescription ingredients, and are prescription only for this reason.

Oral Minoxidil tablets are always prescription-only, and cannot be found over-the-counter.

4. The FDA-approval status

Topical Minoxidil is FDA-approved for use as a hair loss treatment for both men and women.

Oral Minoxidil is not currently FDA-approved for use in hair loss, and it is considered an off-label use if prescribed for this indication. Oral Minoxidil is currently only FDA-approved for use as a high blood pressure treatment.

5. The potential side effects

Even though these two medications have the exact same active ingredient, the side effect profiles are different because one you are just applying to the scalp locally, and one you are consuming in a tablet form, allowing for whole-body exposure. This is a big part of what may make oral Minoxidil inappropriate for some people to use.

The most common potential side effects of topical Minoxidil include:

  • Scalp dryness
  • Scalp redness
  • Scalp itching
  • Scalp irritation
  • Unwanted hair growth

The potential side effects of oral Minoxidil include:

  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fluid retention and leg swelling
  • Heart palpitations
  • Unwanted body hair growth

As you can see, the side effects of topical Minoxidil tend to involve general scalp irritation, while oral Minoxidil may have side effects involving the cardiovascular system. If you already have blood pressure or heart concerns, it may make oral Minoxidil not an appropriate choice for you. 

Your doctor will review your current health status and conditions and determine if oral Minoxidil is safe for you to use.

How to choose if oral minoxidil or topical minoxidil is best for you

Choosing between oral and topical Minoxidil may have you evaluating a few different factors.

The most important issue that sets oral and topical minoxidil apart is the potential for whole-body side effects and cardiovascular involvement with oral Minoxidil. Your doctor and pharmacist will be able to determine if this may be a concern for you and closely monitor how the medication works for you.

Side effects aside, you may end up choosing oral or topical minoxidil due to your personal preferences when it comes to application, how your hair looks, how often you wash your hair, and how often you want to have to remember to use your Minoxidil medication.

Strut Health oral and topical Minoxidil prescribed online and shipped free

Here at Strut Health, we are at the forefront when it comes to hair loss treatment options. We carry FDA-approved and off-label options, including innovative compounded combinations, and add-on items like dermarollers and hair vitamins.

If you are considering either topical Minoxidil or oral Minoxidil, we carry both items. Our U.S. doctors can review your online questionnaire consultation and determine which is the best choice for you.

Once your medication is approved, it will be shipped to your front door from a U.S. compounding pharmacy with our fast and free shipping.

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