The thyroid gland in the neck controls our metabolism rate through the production of the thyroid hormone. When our bodies produce too much of this hormone, our thyroid is overactive – hyperthyroidism, and when they produce too little it is underactive – hypothyroidism. One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism that is not always mentioned is hair loss.
Hypothyroidism affects 2 per cent of women and 0.1 per cent of men and many more have either not had the condition diagnosed or are borderline hypothyroid. It is a disease that becomes more common with age as it usually occurs over the age of 40 and it is ten times more likely to affect women than men. In some cases there will be no symptoms while in others it will cause a variety of problems including:
• Exhaustion, tiredness, sleep problems
• Difficulty concentrating or remembering
• Weight gain
• Dry hair, skin and nails
• Depression or anxiety
• Low libido
• Breathlessness and a hoarse voice
• Face swelling and puffy eyes, swollen feet
• Hair loss
• In women, heavy menstruation
There are many causes of hypothyroidism. For some, it seems to be part of the aging process. The illness has also been associated with autoimmune disease in the sufferer, both generalized and localized to the thyroid. Other causes of hypothyroidism include treatments for hyperthyroidism and genetic conditions such as Down’s and Turner’s syndrome.
“With an underactive thyroid, people may experience a change in all body hair, diffuse thinning and the hair may become thin and brittle,” says Dr. Elena Dimitrova at the Belgravia Centre.
An underactive thyroid can be treated with thyroxine tablets which may allow the hair to re-grow natutally although there have been some reports of thyroid medications causing further hair loss as a side effect. Obviously each patient is different and needs to weigh up how to best manage the condition, but if you are suffering from excessive shedding as a result of thyroid illness, it may be possible to treat the hair loss with a product 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.”
If you show any of the symptoms above or are concerned about your thyroid, ask your GP for a blood test and come to Belgravia for a consultation with a trichologist. Starting an early treatment programme, prescribed by a specialist, can prevent hair loss from this condition. To book an appointment (which is free), call our reception on 020 7730 6666 or message the centre.
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.