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Medications and Supplements That Cause Hair Loss in Women

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Everybody knows that chemotherapy can cause hair loss. However, there are many medications, including supplements, that can trigger alopecia. Today we're focusing our attention on drugs that negatively impact hair growth and regeneration in women. Discover below all the medications and supplements that cause hair loss in women. Do you take them?

In most cases, the hair loss caused by medication is reversible. However, that doesn’t make us feel much better. Knowing your hair will grow back doesn’t cover the bald spots. When it comes to treatments such as chemo, we can't do anything about it. But when it comes to other treatments, adjusting the dose or stopping the medication can help prevent permanent hair loss. While social acceptance of men losing their hair has gotten better, when it comes to us, women, the only permanent we love about our hair doesn’t involve loss. So, ladies, if you’re concerned that the meds you’re currently taking are helping with your health issues but might be affecting your hair, self-esteem and psychological balance, this article is for you! 

Why does hair fall from ceratin drugs or supplements?

Before we tackle what medication causes hair loss, we need to know why. The reason some treatments cause hair loss is that they are toxic to the hair follicles. The follicles, or the roots, are the bulbs of the hair. The follicles are responsible for sustaining the hair and for providing nourishment so that the shaft remains strong. When the follicle is damaged due to harsh chemicals, the normal cycle of hair growth and hair rejuvenation is disrupted. This can cause brittleness, dryness, hair fragility, a shaft that is prone to breakage, and vulnerability to falling out. It, of course, depends on each body’s response to the medication, but there are some drugs and supplements that are known to cause hair loss in most women. 

Types of drug-induced alopecia

The effects of drugs on your hair growth cycle will typically be noticed after several weeks of treatment. There are two major types of hair loss induced by medication:

Anagen effluvium

Anagen effluvium is the loss of actively growing hair. It happens in chemotherapy due to Bismuth, Arsenic, Thallium, Gold, Boric Acid, or Colchicine, substances that kill tumors, but also harm healthy cells. It happens quickly after starting the treatment. 

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium refers to the loss of hair that has completed its growth and is resting. It happens due to various medications and can be seen after months of taking the drugs. 

If you lost your hair due to medication, will you get it back?

Many women want to know whether their locks will be growing back after losing them due to prescription drugs or even over-the-counter medications or supplements. The answer is "yes." After you cease to take your medication, your tresses will regenerate in about six months. After about one year, your hair will go back to normal. Still, make sure to talk to your physician and, in the meanwhile, do not stop your treatment plan, unless otherwise advised by your doctor. 

Medications and supplements that cause hair loss in women

Drugs that lead to hair loss affect hair growing all over the body, including eyelashes and eyebrows. Scalp hair, however, is most visible and can cause self-consciousness issues. Since both physical and psychological health are equally important, you should be aware of which are the medications that can cause alopecia in women:

  • Beta-blockers for glaucoma reduce the effort your heart makes to lower blood pressure. They also cause telogen effluvium. 
  • Anticoagulants, aka blood thinners, cause telogen effluvium and affect the entire scalp, not just a specific area. Hair loss has been noticed after 12 months from the moment the treatment begun.
  • Gout treatments.
  • Blood pressure inhibitors or statins used to balance blood pressure or used to lower cholesterol can lead to hair loss. 
  • Female hormonal treatments can trigger hair loss. Birth-control pills, hormone replacement therapy (estrogen, progesterone, including thyroid treatment) can cause the hair to fall out. They can cause telogen effluvium and female pattern baldness. Androgenetic hormones and steroids can also cause hair loss in women. 
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs affect the cells that produce new hair, causing hair loss. 
  • Antidepressants.
  • Acne medications derived from Vitamin A can trigger hair loss.
  • Anticonvulsants can cause diffuse hair loss. 
  • Amphetamines recommended to manage ADHD and treating narcolepsy can cause hair fall.
  • Antirheumatic drugs and immunosuppressants can cause hair loss.
  • Parkinson’s disease drugs.
  • Some stomach disorder medication.
  • Antifungals.
  • While it’s recommended for hair regeneration, Vitamin A can have the opposite effect when taken in large doses. 
  • Weight-loss drugs.
  • Antibiotics can cause temporary thinning of the hair shaft since they deplete the vitamin B and iron in your blood, affecting normal hair growth. 

How to treat hair loss caused by medication

First off, be patient. As already mentioned, hair loss caused by medication is fortunately reversible. So once you’re done with your treatment, your hair will slowly but surely start growing back. Do not interrupt your treatment, unless otherwise advised by your doctor, and in the meanwhile there are some natural ways in which you can help your body help your hair. One study, for instance, supports the fact that a healthy, balanced diet can help hair regenerate. 

  • Keratin is essential to building strong hair. Red meat, beans, eggs, milk, yogurt, asparagus, and kale are filled with amino acids your body needs to make keratin.  
  • Vitamin C boosts hair growth and regeneration after hair loss. It improves your hair’s ability to absorb moisture and protects the structure of the hair, fighting free radicals. 
  • Vitamin A speeds up cell rejuvenation, preventing your locks from becoming brittle and dry during menopause. 
  • Healthy fats are vital to a healthy hair structure. Fish, flax seeds, and olive oil are excellent sources. 
  • Niacin, aka B3, helps the body convert food into energy, improving circulation to the scalp. This means strong follicles and hair that is less prone to fall out. 
  • B5, aka pantothenic acid, is vital to your hair during menopause. It strengthens the cells and boosts hair growth. Find it in eggs, fish, beef, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. 
  • Iron keeps the entire body healthy, including your hair and boosts micro-circulation to the follicles. 
  • B12 helps produce red blood cells. They carry oxygen and nutrients to the cells, including hair follicles. This means stronger hair! 
  • Folate, found in green peas, white beans, liver, cod, helps rebuild hair follicle cells.
  • Zinc deficiencies lead to hair loss. Zinc can regulate hormones and keep hair healthy as well. Nuts, eggs, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, oysters, spinach are vital sources of Zinc.

Besides adopting a healthy lifestyle, one that includes a balanced diet, healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress (hello, aromatherapy!), you should also switch to a natural hair care regimen. Letting go of harsh chemicals that attack your hair and scalp from the outside, when you already undergo a treatment that attacks the hair follicle from the inside, can definitely help. 

Iulia Claudia Dumitru

I feel happy when I get to tell meaningful stories. About people. About the world. About life. About what people need to feel good. Healthy food, a balanced lifestyle, a grateful approach to relationships with others and ourselves. That is how I keep myself grounded and purposeful. That is how I aim to contribute: striving to make ourselves the best we can. Creating life in the little things. Living every day with the joy, wonder, and curiosity of a child. Trying to #seeKbeauty. Inside and out.

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2 Comments

  • by Oma on

    WOW skin science blogs are always informative and helpful.

  • by Molly on

    I just want to say THANK UIU!
    I’m one of the ones who lost hair due to thyroid issues and the meds I have to take rest of my life.
    When I heard of your product months ago I thought I’d give it a try.

    It has been a great blessing!!
    My hair has not only grown back but don’t have to wash as often and my hair is almost to my waist.
    I was so very depressed when my hair was falling out in clumps but now I feel beautiful again!!

    I totally recommend your products to everyone!

    Thank you

    Molly

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