Is Thyroid Disease Causing Your Hair Loss?

Hormone imbalance is the first thing that comes into mind when we think of hair loss. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism remain among the many reasons for hair loss in patients. Both of these diseases are medical conditions when your body does not make (hypothyroidism) or make excess (hyperthyroidism) of thyroid hormone for normal functioning. Excessive hair fall and thinning are one of the many symptoms of these diseases.

Hair loss in thyroid disease involves the entire scalp. That means you will notice your hair is falling from all places rather than in patches unless you have alopecia areata, an autoimmune thyroid disease. The good news is that you can reverse the hair loss with successful treatment, and the bad news is that it will take months, and you may not get all your hair back. Hair loss is often a symptom of moderate or high hyper or hypothyroidism. This means you must get yourself treated as soon as possible before the symptoms worsen.

Some forms of thyroid diseases can progress within a short duration, while others might be present in your body without any symptoms and take months or even years to show.

The link between Thyroid and Hair Fall

The hair roots on your head grow for a few years and stop, also known as the resting stage. The hair falls off, and new hair starts to grow. This phenomenon is known as the hair growth cycle.

When your body has little or too much thyroid hormone, it shocks your system, which triggers it to the “Telogen effluvium” state.

Telogen effluvium is a scalp disorder where your hair roots enter the resting stage too early. Instead of a year, your hair grows, stops, and eventually falls out within two months.

Know how Hair Grows

Your hair grows from the root of the hair follicle. The root of the hair feeds blood from the blood vessel of your scalp, which creates more cells, contributing to hair growth. Once the hair emerges on your scalp, it passes through the oil glands, giving the hair shininess and softness. Your hair grows for a while, then falls out at the end of each cycle, and new hair grows from the follicle.

Connection between Hair and Thyroid

In thyroid disease, your body either produces more or less T3 and T4 hormones, which affects other body functions, including your hair growth. This affects the hair growth at the root of the hair follicles. Your hair falls out eventually at the end of the hair growth cycle, but it does not grow again, resulting in hair thinning and hair loss across the scalp.

Your hair loss could be due to autoimmune thyroid disease

Alopecia Areata

Many people diagnosed with hypo or hyperthyroidism often have autoimmune thyroid disease. If you have one autoimmune condition, you will likely develop another autoimmune disease. One of these diseases is Alopecia Areata, popularly known as male pattern baldness, which can also happen to women.

Unlike the even hair loss mentioned above, hair loss caused by alopecia areata appears as patchy or circular spots. While it does not progress in most cases, it can cause chunks of hair loss, making it clearly visible.

Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus erythematosus is another autoimmune thyroid disease that can cause hair loss. It is a widespread inflammation involving your skin, usually on the face and scalp. It is characterized by hair thinning on the scalp, while some people may even lose clumps of hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, body hair, or beard

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Some women with hypothyroidism are also reported to have PCOS, an increase in ovarian volume, and cystic changes. Alternatively, women with PCOS are more likely to have thyroid disorders, and one of its symptoms is hair fall.

Hair falls in thyroid disease can also be caused by the side effects of antithyroid drugs like Carbimazole and propylthiouracil, which only happens in rare cases. As stated above, it is hard to determine whether the hair fall is caused due to drug side effects or the condition.

The thyroid hormone is very important for developing and maintaining hair follicles in humans. Follicles are small pockets of hair under the skin from which your hair grows. Severe or long-term hypo and hyperthyroidism can disrupt thyroid hormone production, resulting in hair loss.

How do I know if my hair fall is related to thyroid disease?

Your hair sees a gradual increase in hair thinning

In thyroid-related disease, hair loss will develop slowly, from hair thinning to hair fall instead of patches or bald spots.

You will lose hair in a handful

You will lose around 50 to 100 hairs each day, and since the regrowth phase of hair stops in thyroid disease, new hair will not emerge from the hair follicles. This will make your hair loss appear more apparent. However, you don’t have to worry, as hair loss caused by thyroid conditions is temporary and reversible.

You will lose hair in other parts of the body

Some people may also notice hair loss from eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, and body.

You may lose hair in patches

If your hair loss is caused by alopecia areata (another thyroid-related disease), you may notice hair loss in patches or circular areas.

Check out for other Symptoms

It is unlikely not to feel any other thyroid diseases related symptoms when experiencing hair loss. This is because hair loss appears after several other symptoms, such as tiredness and fatigue. Besides, you may also feel other symptoms, such as −

In hypothyroidism, you may experience symptoms such as feeling cold, tired, rapid weight gain, drier skin, memory loss, depression, feely upset, constipation, and hair loss.

In hyperthyroidism, check for symptoms like anxiety, nervousness, irritation, fast heartbeat, excessive sweating, difficulty falling asleep, skin thinning, brittle or fine hair, muscle weakness, weight loss, diarrhea, tiredness, and swelling around the eyes.

People with thyroid diseases may also notice abnormal menstrual patterns.

Treatment Options

To reverse the hair loss due to thyroid, your doctor must treat the thyroid problem. 

To treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), your doctor will probably prescribe a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine sodium also goes by the name Levothroid, Synthroid, Unithroid, and Levoxyl.

The treatment for hyperthyroidism differs from person to person. Some common treatment includes −

Antithyroid drugs, like methimazole and PTU, work by blocking the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.

Radioactive iodine is an internal radiation therapy that damages some thyroid gland cells to reduce thyroid hormone production. The treatment aims to induce hypothyroidism in patients so they can easily manage it with thyroid hormone replacement.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgically removing a part or all of the thyroid gland, which again leads to hypothyroid,

Can Antithyroid Treatment Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss in the thyroid is often treated with antithyroid drugs like carbimazole and propylthiouracil. The one problem with Hair loss due to the thyroid is that it takes several months to show.

There is a high chance that the hair loss is not caused due to the antithyroid drugs but maybe due to the prolonged hair cycle.

For example, if your thyroid disease is diagnosed with early symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue, it will take some months before you notice hair fall. Suppose you start your treatment at the earliest; by then, you will have your first hair loss before it gets reversed.

This is due to the long hair cycle, which often creates confusion in determining whether the hair loss is caused due to thyroid disease or due to the side effects of the thyroid medication. As a result, most patients withdraw from the treatments, worsening the condition.

Updated on: 20-Feb-2023


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