Hair loss is a condition everyone may experience during their life at one point or another. It can happen due to health issues, genetics and medications. It's a fact that all medications while having many benefits in treating pain and disease, have potential side effects.
Drugs may cause hair loss by interfering with the normal hair growth cycle during the Anagen phase or Telogen phase. This article will explore how medications may cause hair loss and what drugs have hair loss as their side effect.
In the following, you will find:
- What Types of Medications May Cause Hair Loss or Hair Thinning?
- Signs and Symptoms of Hair Loss Due to Medications
- How to Treat Hair Loss Due to Medications?
- Tips That May Help to Reverse Hair Loss Due to Medication
- Hair Loss and Medications in a Nutshell
- Key takeaways
Here you can find different types and groups of drugs that have hair loss listed as their possible side effects. These medications may cause different degrees of hair loss.
- Blood pressure medications
- Thyroid medication
- Tuberculosis (TB) medications
- Antiviral medications
- ADHD medications
- Rheumatoid arthritis medications
- Antidepressant medications
- Vitamin A
- Acne medications
- Antibiotics and antifungal drugs
- Anti-clotting drugs
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Drugs that suppress the immune system
- Epilepsy drugs (Anticonvulsants)
- Weight loss drugs
- Chemotherapy medications
- Parkinson's disease drugs
Note that there are other medications that may cause hair loss, which are not presented in the list above.
Here’s a list of medications that could cause hair loss or hair thinning
High blood pressure medications (antihypertensives), such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, have hair loss listed as their possible side effect.
Some Statins have side effects on the scalp as well, such as itching or hair loss. Statins are lipid-lowering medications that reduce the risk of illness and mortality in people who have cardiovascular problems.
Long-term use of antihypertensive drugs may have a negative impact on hair formation (aka keratinization). In this case, the hair becomes sensitive and brittle before falling out.
People with this condition should consult their doctor to make changes to their medication.
Here’s a list of blood pressure medications that cause hair loss:
- Antihypertensive drugs: Include Methyldopa, Captopril, Clonidine and Enalapril.
- Beta-blockers: Especially those used to treat glaucoma. Beta-blockers drugs include Metoprolol, Timolol, Propranolol, Atenolol, and Nadolol.
- ACE inhibitors: These drugs may also lead to thinning hair, as mentioned above. ACE inhibitors include Enalapril, Lisinopril, and Captopril.
Thyroid conditions occur when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough or produces too many of certain hormones. Low thyroid hormones can interfere with the hair growth cycle by shortening the Anagen phase and postponing the growth of a new follicle.
Antithyroid medications used to treat thyroid disorders (to regulate thyroid function) have the same effect on losing hair, as the thyroid gland is responsible for hormones that control hair regrowth and growth.
Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can disrupt the hair growth cycle and cause hair loss as well.
People with thyroid problems may experience hair loss in some cases, even when they take certain medications, such as Levothyroxine. This problem is usually solved by itself in a matter of months, but to deal with it, patients should take their doctor's advice seriously regarding the dosage of their drugs.
Thyroid Medications could affect hair growth.
Thyroid treatment drugs that may cause hair loss include Methimazole, Carbimazole and Propylthiouracil.
Tuberculosis is a severe infectious disease that affects the lungs. The bacteria that causes TB can spread from person to person through droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.
Some treatments for tuberculosis may cause hair loss, such as Isoniazid, Thiacetazone and Ethionamide.
Some antiviral medications may cause hair loss in the treatment process. Studies show that patients under treatment for diseases like Herpes and Hepatitis C (viral diseases) may experience hair loss.
Some antiviral medications may cause hair loss and can change the colour or texture of the hair. Antiviral drugs that may cause this include Acyclovir and Interferon.
Doctors usually prescribe Adderall for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Adderall is a combination of Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine.
Hair loss is a potential side effect of taking Adderall. Patients who take Adderall report that they experience hair loss but note that their hair regrew after stopping the drug.
One of the most common side effects of using this drug is a decreased appetite. Loss of appetite can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which are often a causative factor in hair loss. Other ADHD and Narcolepsy medications that may cause hair loss include Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine and Lisdexamfetamine.
There are ADHD medications that may not cause hair loss, so if you experience severe hair loss or hair thinning, you should talk to your doctor.
ADHD medications could affect hair growth
The most common drugs used to treat rheumatism are a type of antiviral drugs known as DMARDs. These drugs try to control the disease by suppressing the immune system. Another class of drugs used to treat rheumatism is anti-inflammatory drugs, which work more or less in the same way.
DMARD medications could affect hair growth.
Both groups of drugs can cause weakening and thinning of hair and, in severe cases, may even cause hair loss. These drugs include Allocrizine and Colchicine.
Some antidepressants may cause hair loss. Most cases report that hair loss due to taking antidepressant medications starts two to three months after taking the medication.
Hair loss caused by using antidepressants usually ends when the usage of drugs ends. Not all antidepressants have such side effects.
We recommend that people not take antidepressants without a doctor's prescription as they may cause more serious side effects than hair loss.
Antidepressants that may cause hair loss include Paroxetine hydrochloride, Sertraline, Protriptyline, Amitriptyline, and Fluoxetine.
High doses of vitamin A and medications derived from it can cause hair loss. Over-supplementation of vitamin E has been linked to hair loss as well.
Isotretinoin (Accutane) and Tretinoin (Retin-A) are prescribed to treat severe acne problems. These drugs may cause hair loss, as they are vitamin A-derived medications.
Antibiotics can cause temporary hair thinning by depleting vitamin B and hemoglobin. When hemoglobin is too low, it causes anemia and hair loss.
Antibiotic medications could affect hair growth.
Antibiotics such as Penicillin, Cephalexin and Erythromycin are known to cause hair loss.
Antifungal medications such as Voriconazole, prescribed for fungal infections, may cause hair loss as well.
Anticoagulants like Heparin and Warfarin are blood thinners that help prevent the formation of blood clots. These blood thinners have hair loss listed as their possible side effect.
Some drugs like Simvastatin (Zocor) and Atorvastatin (Lipitor) can lead to hair loss in some patients.
Some immune-suppressing drugs prescribed to treat autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have hair loss listed as their possible side effect.
Note that Immune-deficiency diseases do not cause hair loss themselves. Still, the body's susceptibility to various viruses and bacteria, resulting in recurrent infections, weakens the body and causes secondary diseases such as hair loss.
Immunosuppressant Medications could affect hair growth.
Immunosuppressant drugs that may cause this include Prednisone, Budesonide, and Prednisolone.
Medications that prevent seizures, such as Valproic acid (Depakote) and Trimethadione (Tridion), have been reported to cause hair loss.
Weight loss medications like Phentermine can cause hair loss, but this side effect is not usually disclosed. The hair loss following weight-loss pills may be caused by malnutrition and not the drug itself.
Chemotherapy drugs are used to treat cancer and some autoimmune diseases. These drugs can cause Anagen Effluvium, which is hair loss all over the body, even eyelashes and eyebrows.
Chemotherapy drugs are designed to destroy growing cancer cells in the body, but they also attack and destroy other cells that grow quickly, like hair roots. Regrowth will occur after treatment ends.
Chemotherapy drugs that may cause hair loss include Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide, Dactinomycin, Daunorubicin, Docetaxel, Doxorubicin, Etoposide, Fluorouracil, Ifosfamide, Irinotecan, Methotrexate, Nitrosoureas, Paclitaxel, Tamoxifen, Topotecan, Vinorelbine.
Patients with Parkinson's disease may experience hair loss after taking certain medications, like Cabergoline, which is a dopaminergic drug.
There have been reports of hair loss after taking various dopaminergic drugs, including Levodopa and all types of dopamine receptor agonists.
Besides the medications, some supplements may cause hair loss if you overuse them.
Studies indicate that over-supplementation of some nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Selenium can lead to hair loss.
Moreover, Steroids, Creatine and some sports supplements can cause hair loss as well.
Steroids and Creatine are both popular drugs among athletes. While fortunately, most athletes are aware of the side effects of Steroids, including hair loss and impotence, Creatine's side effects are not as much discussed.
Steroids and CreatineMedications could affect hair growth
Creatine works by increasing the testosterone levels in the body, resulting in increased muscle mass, endurance and energy.
The flip side is that while Creatine increases testosterone levels by 22%, it also increases dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by 56%. Dihydrotestosterone is a strong androgen that causes hair loss in men.
In general, hair loss is a natural process. Every person has hundreds of thousands of hair strands on their scalp; each strand may be in a different growth cycle stage.
An average healthy person loses about 50 to 100 hair strands each day. These hair strands are dead, and upon close inspection, you can find that they mostly have white ends.
When a person is experiencing hair loss due to the side effects of drugs, the shedding usually starts two to three months after usage.
They might experience hair thinning at first, or the side effects may manifest themselves in the form of hair loss in some regions of the scalp. They might notice that they are losing more than 100 strands a day, and these hair strands might have coloured ends. Drug-induced alopecia also manifests itself more as hair thinning than losing hair in different patches.
Usually, hair regrows within three months after stopping the medication that causes hair loss.
Symptoms of Hair Loss Due to Medications
If you are losing an alarming number of hair strands each day, and your pillow is full of hair, it's wise to consult your physician.
Experiencing hair loss after taking certain medications is usually temporary, and treating it is relatively straightforward.
With most drugs, after three months of stopping, new hair grows back naturally.
Still, treating hair loss due to medications widely depends on the type of medication, its dosage, the pattern of hair loss, and whether it only affects the scalp or the whole body.
However, in rare cases, people may experience permanent hair loss after taking certain drugs, especially those prescribed in chemotherapy.
In this case, people must visit a doctor and follow their instructions. It may take about six months for the hair to start growing back and 12-18 months to return to the normal cycle.
Read more: How To Grow Hair Faster: 10 Tips & More
If you are experiencing hair loss due to taking certain medications, you can use these tips to regrow your hair.
A diet that contains plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants, iron, zinc, and biotin can help reverse hair loss.
Researchers found that after six months, almost 90% of the participants who took these supplements saw reduced hair loss and increased hair thickness.
Read more: The 20 Best Foods For Hair Growth
There are plenty of natural or home remedies for hair growth, including coconut oil, fish oil, pumpkin seed oil, etc. These natural oils may work wonders in terms of speeding the hair growth cycle.
Yet if you don't achieve satisfactory results after using them for a few months, it's best to talk to your doctor and discuss other options.
Some medications may cause hair loss, and the extent of hair loss varies widely from one drug to another. Chemotherapy drugs can cause hair loss all over the body, while some antidepressant medications can cause mild hair loss that only affects the scalp.
Fortunately, hair loss usually ends after stopping the drug that causes the complication.
Based on your doctor's advice, hair loss due to medication can be managed by changing the dosage or the type of drug. Your doctor might suggest alternative therapies or recommend remedies and medications to slow or stop hair loss altogether.
- On average, each person loses about 50 to 100 hairs a day, which is normal and may increase dramatically with age.
- A stressor, an illness or the use of some medications may cause hair loss.
- Using some medications and hair loss go hand in hand. Hair loss is a side effect of many drugs, but it can be treated and reversed.
- In some cases, hair loss due to medications stops by itself, and hair can grow back after a few months, without any need for treatment or even stopping the drug.
- However, treatment for hair loss due to medication is usually stopping the use of drugs that causes the implication.
- Some hormonal drugs, chemotherapy medications, immune system suppressants, and antidepressants have hair loss listed as their side effects.
- Some other medications, such as weight loss drugs, may not primarily cause hair loss but cause malnutrition, resulting in hair loss as a secondary condition.
- Natural remedies and other medications can help you slow hair loss and regrow your hair back.
- In case of excessive hair loss, it's best to seek your doctor's advice to find out the cause.