How Thyroid Hormones Cause Hair Loss
Your hair follicles follow a natural cycle of hair growth and resting phases. At any given time, most of your hair is growing while only a small portion of it is resting. But when changes in the body throw off that cycle, too much hair rests at one time and not enough grows, resulting in excessive hair loss, thinning hair, or balding.
Many medical conditions can cause hair loss, with thyroid disease a common culprit. Thyroid problems include both an underactive thyroid gland and an overactive thyroid gland . Because hair growth depends on the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, abnormal levels of thyroid hormone produced by this gland can result in hair changes, along with many other side effects, if left untreated. When there is too much thyroid hormone, the hair on your head can become fine, with thinning hair all over the scalp. When there is too little of this hormone, there can be hair loss, not just on the scalp, but also anywhere on the body.
Ironically, taking the hormone levothyroxine to treat an underactive thyroid can contribute to some hair loss, among other side effects, but this seems to be more common within the first month of treatment and more often in children than adults. This hair loss is only temporary and will go away as treatment is continued and thyroid hormone levels stabilize.
How Common Is It To Experience Hair Loss From Thyroid Medication
It’s fairly common to see some hair loss due to thyroid medication. Usually, this is due to overmedication, which leads to hyperthyroidism, because hair loss is a symptom of both low and high levels of thyroid hormone. In most people, this is a short-lived side effect that occurs in the first month of treatment.
Solving Thyroid Hair Loss Doesnt Have To Be Impossible
Has your thyroid taken away your hair?
If so, you arent alone.
Thyroid hair loss is one of the most concerning symptoms that thyroid patients experience.
Hair loss can cause significant distress both emotionally and physiologically, and its never a normal or good sign.
Heres the good news though:
It can almost always be addressed, treated, or managed.
You may not be able to 100% solve your hair loss but you should be able to see significant improvement in your hair quality, texture, and density by using certain therapies.
Today, Im going to talk to you about hair loss treatments that thyroid patients can use to regrow their hair.
Before we jump in, I need to mention one very important point:
These treatments are considered more advanced and should be done in addition to you treat the 3 most common causes of hair loss in thyroid patients.
- Ensuring that you have normal iron levels Iron is essential for hair growth production and thyroid patients are at increased risk for iron deficiency.
- Ensuring your thyroid medication is optimized If your thyroid medication is too high or too low then you will not be able to regrow your hair. Always optimize your thyroid medication!
- Ensuring youve tried basic nutrient replacement and supplements Replacing basic nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, B12, choline, and silica, are all required for optimal hair growth. Ensure that you have adequate levels of these nutrients before proceeding.
Today you will learn:
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Common Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism:
- Mood changes, anxiety, restlessness, issues with sleeping
- Pain and swelling in the throat , muscle weakness, menstruation disturbances
Hypothyroidism, the underactive thyroid disease, occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones. Hair loss and thinning hair is a symptom of long-term hypothyroidism. Prolonged hypothyroidism is more common in women than men and is often diagnosed in middle age and later age groups, though it can occur at any age.
Getting Diagnosed And Treating Hair Loss
Hair loss could be due to any number of factors, from extreme stress to iron deficiency, or even post-pregnancy hair loss. However, if you are experiencing other symptoms of a thyroid disorder besides diffusely thinning hair, ask your GP for a blood test and then consult a hair specialist to discuss your options for growing back your hair.
For most men and women with a thyroid disorder, shedding is a temporary side effect, for which there are available hair loss solutions. However, this is not an instant fix as it may take 3 to 4 months from starting your hair loss treatment course before hair growth resumes.
Its also important to note that when your hair grows back the texture and colour could be different from your previous hair this happens quite frequently and is nothing to worry about. The original texture and colour should also return within a hair growth cycle or two in the vast majority of cases.
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Should You Discontinue Levothyroxine To Stop Hair Loss
Since treatment with levothyroxine is lifelong, it cannot be discontinued. But depending on your thyroid levels, the dosage may be increased or decreased. Stopping anti-thyroid medication can have severe effects on the body. But there are some other treatment suggestions and lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to prevent hair loss.
Here are some tips you can try to prevent hair loss while taking levothyroxine.
What Is Hashimotos Thyroiditis
Hashimotoâs thyroiditis, also known as autoimmune thyroid disease, can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. According to the American Thyroid Association, it is an autoimmune disorder that causes long-term inflammation of the thyroid. Over time, the thyroid gland struggles to produce enough thyroid hormones, which leads to a slow or underactive thyroid . Hashimotoâs thyroiditis occurs most commonly in middle-aged women, but it can appear at any age and sometimes affects men and children.
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Balance Your Blood Sugar
Eating lots of carbohydrates and not enough quality proteins and healthy fats can send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster. These dramatic swings in blood sugar encourage your body to convert more T4 to Reverse T3, an inactive form of thyroid hormone. This slows down all of your metabolic processes and can cause thyroid hair loss.
To avoid this, I recommend starting off your day with a high-protein breakfast, whether thats a protein-packed smoothie or a dish such as Beef and Veggie Breakfast Scramble, and pairing your starchy vegetables throughout the day with grass-fed, pasture-raised meat and high-quality fats, such as avocados and coconut oil.
Causes Of Thyroid Hair Loss
Thyroid hair loss is caused by prolonged, untreated hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones.
On the other hand, hyperthyroidism is the excess production of thyroid hormones. These two conditions can trigger an autoimmune thyroid disease and further escalate into other autoimmune diseases like alopecia areata.
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The Basics Of Hair Loss
Hair loss can occur for a large variety of reasons. In men, the most common cause of hair loss is male pattern baldness a form of hormonal hair loss thats caused by a genetic sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
This type of hair loss occurs when DHT gradually miniaturizes the hair follicles, stopping them from producing new hairs.
However, its also possible for your thyroid to contribute to hair loss by disrupting your bodys natural hair growth cycle.
As weve covered in our guide to the hair growth process, every single hair on your scalp goes through a four-stage growth process, with each stage corresponding to a different phase in the hairs development:
During the anagen phase, the hair grows from the follicle
During the catagen phase, the follicle shrinks and the hair detaches from your scalp
During the telogen phase, a new hair starts to grow underneath the old hair
During the exogen phase, the old hair falls out and is replaced by the new hair
As part of this process, old hairs that have reached the end of their growth cycle are constantly falling out from your scalp, causing you to lose about 50 to 100 hairs every day. Since your hair follicles dont all grow in sync, this daily loss doesnt have any impact on your appearance.
Understanding this simple process is key to understanding how thyroid disorders, as well as a range of other medical conditions, can affect your hair.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis And Hair Loss: Everything You Need To Know
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1% to 2% of the U.S. population has Hashimotoâs thyroiditis. It occurs more often in women than in men and is the most common cause of underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, in the U.S. Hair loss is, for many, one of the most distressing symptoms of thyroid disorders and may be challenging to treat if you have Hashimotoâs thyroiditis.
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Thyroid With Itchy Scalp And Brittle Hair
If in addition to thinning hair or hair loss, your thyroid hormone imbalance is causing itchy, dry scalp, add a topical hair serum for women with menthol to your hair care routine. If your thyroid condition is causing dry, brittle hair, use a gentle shampoo and moisturizing conditioner that is SLS-free and SLES-free, which will help minimize irritation on dry, sensitive scalp.
Do you eat the right foods for hair growth? See what your diet is missing.
Make Sure Your Thyroid Labs Are Optimal
My first recommendation if you are dealing with thyroid hair loss is to have your doctor run a full thyroid panel to make sure your TSH, Free T4 , Free T3 , and Reverse T3 levels are all optimal1. In my article, What Your Thyroid Lab Results Really Mean, I explain what each of these blood tests measures, why your doctor needs to order all of them , and why they should use optimal rather than normal reference ranges. Its important to understand that you can still have thyroid dysfunction and symptoms, including thyroid hair loss, even if your TSH and T4 are normal, and the first step in optimizing all of your levels is to have them tested.
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Thyroid Medications And Hair Loss
Ironically, not only do imbalances of thyroid hormones cause thinning hair, but thyroid medications themselves can cause hair loss. However, users generally report that hair loss is more common within the first month of starting the medication, and is generally temporary. As thyroid hormone levels stabilize, hair growth generally returns to normal.
Does Levothyroxine Cause Hair Loss In Women And Children
To understand if levothyroxine causes hair loss, we need to dive deep into the relation between thyroid dysfunction and hair loss. Thyroid dysfunctions are known to cause hair loss. Hypothyroidism causes the scalp to become oily. It also makes hair coarse and scanty, and may even lead to baldness. Excess thyroid function, on the other hand, causes hyperthyroidism that also makes hair fine and very scanty. Such thyroid imbalances can cause alopecia areata .
While levothyroxine is used to treat thyroid imbalances , it also may cause hair loss in some cases.
In a study, a 10-month infant diagnosed with hypothyroidism faced sudden diffuse alopecia on the scalp . The cause was found to be an overdose of levothyroxine, leading to an excessive thyroid function, causing hair loss. Hair loss occurred after two weeks of starting levothyroxine and ended a few days after the dosage was reduced. This shows that there needs to be an accuracy in the prescribed dosage. When ingested in the appropriate dosage, levothyroxine only balances the thyroid level without causing hair loss.
In another study conducted with 255 women, thyroxine was shown to cause diffuse hair loss . This shows that anti-thyroid medication can cause drug-induced hair loss.
Hair loss is a common occurrence in pregnancy due to the change in hormone levels. Although it may cause hair loss, levothyroxine is one of the few medications safe for pregnant and nursing women .
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Your Thyroid May Be Causing Your Hair Loss: Here’s How
If youâre seeing more hair than ever before stuck in the drain or your hairbrush, you may begin to worry that youâre losing your hair. Hypothyroidism is a fairly common cause of hair loss, and hypothyroidism-related hair loss can also be reversible.
âA blood test to rule out thyroid abnormalities should always be a part of the diagnosis for hair loss due to medical conditions,â Abraham Armani, MD, a hair-restoration surgeon and hair loss specialist in Dallas, Texas, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is normal to lose 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. If your hair is thick or long, a few dozen strands might look like a large clump, even if the number of hairs youâre losing is completely normal. But what if you are losing your hair?
Discover Your Perfect Thyroid Hair Loss Treatment
Hair loss from thyroid issues can be a blow for self confidence and cause stress and anxiety. The good news is that hair loss from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be temporary, and there are steps you can take to ensure your hair grows back fast and healthy. Discover the right hair loss supplement specifically designed to encourage hair regrowth for men & women suffering from thyroid hair fall.Our Ginkgo Biloba B+ daily supplement has been expertly formulated to stimulate healthy hair regrowth but gentle enough not to cause any further damage or irritation to the scalp. With select nutrients itll work to improve blood circulation to the hair follicles to aid thyroid hair loss recovery. It is available in a monthly 30-day bottle or as part of our 3-step Ginkgo Hair Care Plan.The multi award-winning Simone Thomas Wellness everyday supplements have been designed to combat thyroid related hair loss, thinning hair and help take care of your body from the inside. Discover how Ginkgo Biloba B+ can encourage healthy hair growth. For more advice and support from the Simone Thomas Wellness team, contact us today.
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Infographic: Medications That Cause Hair Loss
Many medications have hair loss listed as one of their common side effects as they impact the hair growth cycle in different ways. In some cases, drug-induced hair loss can be reversed by simply adjusting the dosage. The following infographic presents a list of medications that may cause hair loss. Check it out to find out more!
Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team
Although levothyroxine causes hair loss, it is potentially reversible, temporary, and treatable. You lose about 80-100 hair strands daily. However, if you observe a lot of hair loss, you should see a doctor. When the dosage is reduced, you are more likely to detect hair growth. However, while levothyroxine must be taken for the rest of your life in most situations, you must also work on improving your lifestyle and eating habits. If you follow the appropriate habits regularly, you can improve the health of your hair and body.
Hair Loss And Your Thyroid
Thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause a diverse range of symptoms, from reduced or increased energy levels to changes in your body composition and weight. Its also possible for these conditions to affect your hair.
Because your thyroid plays a vital role in regulating so many bodily functions, any disruption to the production of thyroid hormones such as triiodothyronine and thyroxine can affect numerous important bodily processes.
This includes the healthy growth of your hair. If your thyroid function is impaired, your hair might not grow as quickly as it normally would. This means that as old hairs reach the end of their hair growth cycle, they arent adequately replaced by new ones.
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What Is Thyroid Hair Loss
Thyroid related hair loss manifests when a person suffers long term hormonal imbalance resulting from abnormal behaviour of the thyroid. Hair loss appears far less common in short term thyroid related conditions. The thyroid produces hormones responsible for a range of important tasks including temperature, metabolic rate, maintenance of bone structures and heart rate. Both an overactive thyroid and underactive thyroid disorders can lead to hair loss. Can high thyroid cause hair loss? Hyperthyroidism, the overactive thyroid disease, occurs when the thyroid gland produces too many thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism is up to ten times more likely in men than women and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Hair loss is a symptom of prolonged hyperthyroid issues.
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Check Your Iron & Ferritin Status
One of the most critical nutrients for hair growth is your iron status.
Iron is so important for hair growth that you cant blame hair loss on your thyroid until youve increased your ferritin and other iron levels to a suitable level.
For reference, a ferritin level of at least 30 ng/mL is required for proper hair growth.
Studies have shown that in women with systemic inflammation and other underlying hormone imbalances, ferritin levels lower than 30 ng/mL are strongly associated with hair loss.
And remember this:
Ferritin is a marker of the iron stores in your body, but your ferritin can be low while your iron levels are relatively normal.
Whats worse is that the low end of the reference range for ferritin is less than 10 ng/mL as evidenced in the example below:
You can see that the ferritin reference range is from 10 to 154 ng/mL meaning that you can range anywhere from 10 to 29 and still be considered normal.
Meanwhile, you may be experiencing diffuse hair loss or other symptoms of low ferritin.
Because of this, its important that you understand where your ferritin level needs to be if you are suffering from hair loss.
Another very important connection, as it relates to patients with hypothyroidism, is the connection between thyroid hormone and iron deficiency.
Low thyroid hormone causes iron deficiency due to decreased absorption in the GI tract.
This means that hypothyroid patients are in a situation that promotes iron deficiency.
This causes a double whammy: