Does Alopecia Cause Headaches?'

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Name: Eunice

Question: Does alopecia give you headaches? Am losing my hair and I do get headaches frequently - have just had an MRI scan but it came back normal - any help?

Answer: Hi, Eunice. We are unsure of the specific type of hair loss you are referring to when you say 'alopecia', however, there are only two forms which we are aware of being related to headaches: Traction Alopecia and autoimmune-related alopecia.

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Traction Alopecia is a hairloss condition which occurs when frequent, excessive strain is placed on the follicles. This is often the result of wearing tight hairstyles - such as braids, high ponytails or hair extensions - which is where the link to headaches comes in. However, the pain is not caused by the hair fall or the condition itself, they are due to the tension brought about by the damaging hairstyle. If Traction Alopecia is suspected, the first step is to stop styling the hair in any potentially harmful way and wear it naturally in order to let the follicles recover.

If the hair loss, which often presents around the frontal hairline and temple areas and sometimes significant hair breakage is seen at the site(s) where the style has been fixed, is substantial then Traction Alopecia treatment may be beneficial. Although this condition is fully preventable, in severe cases it can also cause permanent baldness.

The other issue which can cause both hair loss and headaches is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), which is related to inflammation in the body. If you are losing your hair to SLE, which is also known as Lupus and thought to be autoimmune in nature, or another form of autoimmune disorder - such as Alopecia Areata - it is worth talking to your GP about this as people with one autoimmune disorder have an increased risk of developing others.

You may find the 2014 medical research paper investigating links between headaches and autoimmune diseases of interest. Whilst no concrete evidence has yet been established, the possible propensity towards migraine in people with autoimmune disorders is also being explored by researchers.

There are no other hair loss conditions that have any substantive correlation with headaches as far as we are aware; they all tend to be physically painless.

If you are experiencing thinning hair from all over the scalp this may be an indication of an underlying health issue. Telogen Effluvium causes temporary shedding that may seem sudden and intense but is generally triggered around three months prior to hair fall becoming noticeable. Common provocateurs of this condition include illnesses - which may or may not have been diagnosed - or starting a new regime, be it medications or significant dietary changes.

Another common cause of Telogen Effluvium is stress and it may well be the case that worrying about your headaches, or the stress placed on the body by an unrelated illness, that is behind your hair loss.

This issue may resolve itself naturally within around six months, though should the condition become chronic, it often takes longer. If this diffuse thinning becomes a concern then it may be worth considering exploring telogen effluvium treatment to help accelerate the process.

We would encourage you to visit a hair loss specialist who, following a thorough assessment, can diagnose why you are losing your hair, what options you have to combat this, and may also be able to shed light on the cause of your headaches.

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