At Thyroid UK we hear from a lot of members who have problems with hair loss and it can be a very distressing condition especially for women.
What could be the cause?
Hair loss is a common symptom of thyroid disease but it can also be caused by various other conditions including vitamin and mineral deficiencies and certain medical conditions.
Let’s look at thyroid disease first. Hair loss may be associated with hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism1. In hypothyroidism , hair loss is also found in other areas of the body such as the eyebrows (usually the outer third), under the arms and the pubic area.
We have seen reports that hair loss can be a side effect of levothyroxine.2 However, it may be that the hair loss is actually a symptom of hypothyroidism that only showed as a symptom after the start of treatment with levothyroxine . This may be because it can take months for hair loss to start due to the long hair growth cycle.
It may also be a sign that you are on too much levothyroxine, making you a little overactive and this may therefore be causing the hair loss.
We have read reports from patients, though, that they moved over to natural desiccated thyroid and their hair loss improved.
If your hair loss is due to thyroid disease once you have been treated with the correct thyroid medication for you and your levels are stable, the hair loss should improve.
Are there other causes?
Nutritional deficiencies are definitely something that you should look into if you have hair loss.
Iron deficiency anaemia can cause hair loss so always check your iron levels. Dr Philip Kingsley, Trichologist, states that ferritin (iron store) levels also need to be checked and that, “Even if the ferritin is within the ‘normal’ range, the level may still not be adequate for optimum hair growth.”
He states, “Hair loss due to low ferritin is one of the most common types of hair loss we see in women.” 3 Be careful when supplementing with iron as it can be toxic .
B12 deficiency may cause hair loss although evidence is sparse.4
Biotin deficiency has also been reported as a cause of hair loss and some people found that it improved after taking supplements. You need to be aware, though, that taking biotin can show skewed levels in your test results. 5,6
Other vitamin deficiencies that may play a role in hair loss are vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E.4 The mineral, zinc, also plays a part in hair loss.4,5
Taking vitamin supplements may not always be helpful, though. Too much Vitamin A has been reported as causing hair loss so be careful with this vitamin.4
Once you have looked into your nutritional status and found that you have optimum levels, it could be a medical condition that is causing your hair loss.
Telogen Effluvium is a form of diffuse hair loss that occurs when the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle is cut short by an internal disturbance. This causes many more hairs than usual to move from anagen into the telogen (shedding) phase all at once, resulting in excessive daily hair fall.7
Anogen Effluvium refers to the shedding that arises during the anagen (growth) stage of the hair cycle. The main causes of anagen effluvium are radiation, chemotherapy , infection, drugs and toxins.8
Alopecia Areata is a more localised loss, and can be temporary, semi-permanent (recurring) or permanent and can affect eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair; as well as beard hair in men.9
Androgenetic Alopecia is probably caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors although the exact cause is not known. It is often referred to as ‘Male Pattern Hair Loss’ or ‘Female Pattern Hair Loss’. It is the most common type of hair loss affecting approximately 50% of men over the age of 50 and around 50% of women over the age of 65.10
Alopecia Fungal Infections are due to certain infections which may cause patchy and localised loss and are generally treated by systemic anti-fungal treatment.11
So, if you are suffering from hair loss, you first need to check your thyroid levels, then make sure your nutritional status is optimal and if these are not the cause, there are medical causes you should look into.
There are various treatments on the market for hair loss but be aware that some of them will probably not help
It’s best to visit a specialist to help you deal with hair loss if it isn’t due to thyroid disease or nutritional deficiencies.
1. A Descriptive Study of Alopecia Patterns and their Relation to Thyroid Dysfunction
Maya Vincent and Krishnan Yogiraj
Int J Trichology. 2013 Jan-Mar; 5(1): 57-60
2. RXList – Levoxyl
3. Ferritin and Hair Health
4. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review
Hind M. Almohanna, Azhar A. Ahmed, John P. Tsatalis, and Antonella Tosti
Dermatol Ther (Heidelb).
2019 Mar; 9(1): 51–70
5. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
Emily L. Guo and Rajani Katta
Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017 Jan; 7(1): 1–10
6. Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause
Zuzanna Sabina Goluch-Koniuszy
Prz Menopauzalny. 2016 Mar; 15(1): 56–61
7. Telogen Effluvium
8. Telogen & Anagen Effluvium
10. Types of Alopecia
G Sentamilselvi, C Janaki, and Sundaram Murugusundram
Int J Trichology. 2009 Jul-Dec; 1(2): 100–107
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