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Lupus & Hair Loss: A Complete Guide

UPGUYS > Blog > Hair > Lupus & Hair Loss: A Complete Guide
The person who wrote this article

Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on April 11, 2023

According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 15,000 people in Canada are living with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). It is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect different parts of the body. This includes the skin, joints, and organs.

One of the most common symptoms of SLE is hair loss. This can be a source of emotional distress for many people. There are ways to manage and treat lupus-associated hair loss, from medications to natural remedies.

In this article, we'll explore why lupus causes hair loss and what other symptoms to look out for. We'll show you how to diagnose and treat hair loss from lupus and more.

What Is Lupus?

Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease affecting different parts of the body. This includes the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain.

In an autoimmune disease, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs. This leads to inflammation and damage.

Lupus can range from mild to severe. It can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, although it is more common in women of childbearing age. Lupus has no cure, but treatments are available to manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Types of Lupus

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can manifest in various ways. Understanding the different types of lupus is crucial in developing an effective treatment plan. There are several types of lupus, including:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

This is the most common type of lupus. It can affect any part of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, and internal organs.

Read more: Alopecia Areata in Men: The Key Things To Understand

Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE)

This type of lupus primarily affects the skin. It causes rashes, lesions, and other skin problems.

Drug-Induced Lupus

This type of lupus is caused by certain medications. It can be reversible once the medication is stopped.

Read more: Solving the Mystery of Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair Loss: Natural Remedies and Clinical Treatments

Neonatal Lupus

This type of lupus occurs in newborns whose mothers have certain antibodies that can affect the baby's skin, liver, and blood cells. It is often temporary and goes away within a few months.

It's important to note that lupus can present differently in each individual, and the severity of the disease can vary widely. A proper lupus diagnosis by a healthcare professional is necessary for effective treatment.

Read more: How To Stop Alopecia Areata From Spreading Naturally

Lupus and Hair Loss

Hair loss is a common symptom of lupus. The hair loss associated with lupus usually appears as thinning or bald patches on the scalp.

It can also cause hair breakage and brittleness, leading to uneven hair texture and thickness. The extent and pattern of hair loss may vary depending on the person and the severity of lupus.

Why Does Lupus Cause Hair Loss?

Lupus causes hair loss when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, leading to inflammation and damage. The severity of hair loss may vary depending on the person and the extent of inflammation.

The exact mechanisms of hair loss in lupus are still not fully understood. It is believed to be a complex interplay between genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors.

Read moreDealing With An Uneven Hairline: Causes And Solutions

What Lupus Medications Cause Hair Loss?

Some medications used to treat lupus can also cause hair loss. These medications include corticosteroids, antimalarials, and immunosuppressants.

Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are commonly used to control inflammation in lupus but can cause hair loss as a side effect. Antimalarials, such as hydroxychloroquine, are also used to treat lupus but can cause reversible hair loss in some cases.

Immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine and mycophenolate mofetil, are prescribed to suppress the overactive immune system in lupus. It can cause hair loss as a side effect.

It is important to note that not all lupus medications cause hair loss, and the risk of hair loss may vary depending on the dose, duration, and combination of medications.

Other Effects of Lupus on Hair

Apart from hair loss, lupus can cause other hair-related symptoms such as scalp tenderness, itching, and rashes. Lupus can also affect the texture, colour, and thickness of hair, leading to dryness, fragility, and brittleness.

Some people with lupus may develop a condition called discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), which causes red, scaly, and coin-shaped patches on the scalp and skin. DLE can lead to permanent hair loss if left untreated.

Are There Tests for It?

A dermatologist can diagnose lupus-associated hair loss by examining the scalp and hair. In some cases, a scalp biopsy may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

During a scalp biopsy, a small sample of scalp tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to look for signs of inflammation and damage. Blood tests may also be ordered to check for autoimmune antibodies and other markers of lupus activity.

Is It Treatable?

There is no cure for lupus-associated hair loss, but the condition can be managed with various treatments. Medications such as topical corticosteroids, minoxidil, and hydroxychloroquine can help slow down hair loss and promote hair growth.

Topical corticosteroids are applied directly to the scalp to reduce inflammation and itching. Minoxidil is a topical solution that stimulates hair growth and can be used in combination with other medications.

Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial medication that can help reduce lupus activity and hair loss. However, it may take several months of treatment before the results are visible. Not all people with lupus-associated hair loss respond to these medications.

In severe cases of lupus-associated hair loss, hair transplantation or scalp reduction surgery may be an option. These procedures involve removing the balding scalp and replacing it with healthy hair follicles from other areas of the scalp or body.

Natural Lupus Hair Loss Treatments

While natural remedies may not cure lupus-associated hair loss, they can help reduce inflammation and promote hair growth. Some natural remedies may be beneficial for people with lupus-associated hair loss. These include:

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties. This helps to soothe the scalp and promote hair growth.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help reduce scalp irritation and inflammation.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that can help nourish the scalp and hair. It can also help reduce hair breakage and brittleness.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that can help reduce inflammation and promote hair growth. They are found in fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.

It is important to note that natural remedies should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare provider. They may interact with medications and cause adverse effects.

Is Hair Loss from Lupus Preventable?

Preventing lupus-associated hair loss is not always possible, as it is a complex condition with multiple underlying factors. Taking steps to manage lupus and minimize its activity can help reduce the risk and severity of hair loss.

Tips to Prevent Hair Loss

To prevent different types of hair loss, it's important to follow a healthy and balanced diet that includes protein, vitamins, and minerals. It's also best to avoid harsh hair treatments like perms, hair colouring, and heat styling.

When it comes to hair products, use gentle ones that don't contain sulphates or other harsh chemicals. Managing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing can also help prevent hair loss. Stay hydrated and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption to maintain good hair health.


How Do I Know if I Have Hair Loss From Lupus?

Hair loss from lupus usually appears as thinning or bald patches on the scalp. It may be accompanied by other symptoms such as scalp tenderness, itching, and rashes. A dermatologist can diagnose lupus-associated hair loss through a scalp examination and other tests.

Is it Reversible?

Losing hair from lupus may be reversible, depending on the extent and severity of inflammation and damage. It may take several months of treatment before the results are visible.

What is the First Stage of Lupus Hair Loss?

Lupus patients may notice their hair thinning or shedding in the first stage of the disease. Over time, this may progress to more severe hair loss. To prevent further damage, those experiencing hair loss should shield their scalps from the sun with sunscreen or a hat.

It's important to remember that not all hair loss in lupus patients is directly related to the disease. Other factors like stress or medication may also be the cause.

While some individuals may only experience hair thinning, hair loss caused by lupus can happen anywhere on the body, including eyelashes and eyebrows. Though distressing, it's reassuring to know that lupus-associated hair loss doesn't typically result in permanent baldness.

In rare cases, hair loss in lupus patients may be a sign of scarring alopecia, which can cause permanent hair loss. This should be evaluated by a dermatologist or other medical professional.

Hair loss caused by lupus may be more common in certain subtypes of the disease, such as cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).


UPGUYS has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.