The medical condition hypothyroidism is often accompanied by a number of ancillary symptoms. These range from exhaustion, difficulty concentrating and depression, to a low libido and weight gain – but one that is not always mentioned is hair loss.
Various associations with hair loss
Thinning hair that occurs diffusely over the whole scalp can indicate an undiagnosed medical problem, including thyroid disorders. This is a condition known as Telogen Effluvium or, when more prolonged – for more than six months, Chronic Telogen Effluvium, and this can also come about as a side effect of some thyroid medications which cause a period of increased hair shedding while the body adjusts to the new drugs.
Hair loss caused by hypothyroidism – where the thyroid is under-active – can also be dependent upon whether or not the sufferer has a genetic predisposition to hair loss. Hypothyroidism generally corrects itself once the thyroid problem is dealt with, however, an underlying thyroid problem can help to accelerate any pre-existing hereditary hair loss condition. Telogen Effluvium can also help to trigger or exacerbate thinning hair from male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss in those who are so predisposed.
“Thyroid-related hair loss does not make the roots disappear but they do get smaller. With an underactive thyroid, people may experience a change in all body hair, diffuse thinning and the hair may become thin and brittle,” says Belgravia’s consultant dermatologist Dr. Elena Dimitrova.
Hypothyroidism is also believed to be linked to the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, which causes patchy hair loss from the scalp. It is the second most common reason for hair loss behind male and female pattern hair loss, worldwide.
The precise cause of Alopecia Areata, and its more severe conditions – Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis whereby those affected lose all head hair or experience complete hair loss from head to toe, respectively – are still unknown and the subject of on-going research. However, people with autoimmune conditions tend to have a higher susceptibility to other conditions from the same group and, as with Alopecia Areata, hypothyroidism is also an autoimmune disorder.
The distress of losing hair can cause added psychological trauma to patients already dealing with their hypothyroidism, but they can take heart in the fact that this hair loss is often temporary and can start to grow back within around 3 to 6 months of starting treatment.
Treating thyroid-related hair loss
Patients who experience excessive shedding as a result of hypothyroidism, other thyroid issues or from taking medication to manage their condition may be able to treat their hair loss with a clinically-proven solution called minoxidil.
“Treatment for the thyroid condition may ultimately allow the hair to regrow naturally and gradually but sometimes minoxidil can be beneficial as a second-line treatment,” explains Dr. Dimitrova, “Minoxidil is a blood circulator and hair growth stimulant so it will promote quick regrowth and minimise the damage the condition can cause to the hair.”
Belgravia offers a range of high strength minoxidil formulations which can be used to effectively treat a number of hair loss conditions, as can be seen in the regrowth results shown in our Success Stories gallery.
Hair growth boosters may also be used to complement treatment but it is a good idea to avoid hair supplements which contain kelp or iodine. These may interfere with thyroid medication and prevent the absorption of levothyroxine, the main ingredient in medication for thyroid disorders. A dedicated hair loss specialist nurse will tailor a bespoke treatment course featuring components suited to the needs of both your medical and hair problems.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.