Hair loss is a side-effect of several treatments that awaits many of us. Some of those treatments are associated with advancing age, others can affect anyone at any age. We take a closer look at some common medications that cause hair loss. 

 

Hair Loss

There are so many triggers for hair loss. Many of them will lead to a temporary bout, one where a full recovery to its previous glory can be expected. Illness, an accident, bad diet, vitamin or mineral deficiency, and many more. Here we focus on hair loss caused by prescription drugs, medications that cause hair loss and the diseases they are primarily aimed at. 

In place of a deeper understanding, many of these conditions were simply called ‘telogen effluvium (TE)’. It was used as an umbrella term because the diagnosis for many of these conditions was essentially the same, with limited options for treatment. In all but a few rare cases, TE does not last longer than around 6 months. It can involve the loss of a little or a lot of hair, sometimes a shocking amount of hair loss. Typically, it is bought on when the body’s system receives a jolt. This jolt, whatever it is, leads to chemical changes that shift hair follicles into their rest phase. 

At any one time, somewhere around 10-15% of our follicles are in the resting phase. During a bout of TE this proportion rises and can see anywhere up to 80% going into that resting phase. Part of the process sees the old hair get shed, it is the sudden shedding of many of these hairs that leads to the visible hair loss. 

Medications That Cause Hair Loss

Our list covers a range of medications, some surprising, that address a broad set of ailments. While some will be unavoidable, given the illness for which they are prescribed, others you might want to consider whether the ailment is worse than the possible hair loss.

Retinoids:

Prescribed for severe acne. Retinoids work by unclogging pores and allowing medicated creams and gels to be more effective.  

Cimetidine:

Given to patients suffering from excess stomach acid. It reduces acid in the stomach so is also prescribed for sufferers of GERD, where stomach acid rises into the aesophagus. 

Antithyroid:

There are a couple of drugs available to treat thyroid problems, both block the production of the thyroid hormone. Great for the condition, not so great for your hair. 

Bromocriptine: 

Marketed as Parlodel, and also under many other names, it is prescribed for a few serious illnesses. This includes pituitary tumours, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and others. 

Tricyclic Antidepressants:

Tricyclics are primarily used, under a wide range of names, to treat anxiety. This can be anything from chronic bed-wetting in children to PTSD and OCD. 

Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs:

This is an incredibly popular family of drugs, which includes ibuprofen. 

Statins: 

They are prescribed to those identified as needing to reduce their blood cholesterol.  The combination of diets shifting towards the unhealthy and an aging population means they are increasingly common. While hair loss associated with statins is quite rare, around 1% of users will suffer.

HIS Hair Clinic

This list is far from comprehensive. But it captures some of the more common drugs on the market that have hair loss as a feature, or at least as a potential hazard. 

It demonstrates how vulnerable our hair is to changes in our system. For some of these treatments, there are options, alternatives that can be discussed with your doctor. But some of these drugs are unavoidable, statins, for example, would require people to put their lives on the line to refuse the treatment. 

If you would like to discuss your hair loss situation with one of our friendly team of experts simply complete the contact form at the side of this page, or click here to find your nearest clinic.

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By IanW

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