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Sleep Apnea and Hair Loss: What Is the Connection?

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Sleep apnea can be an ongoing health struggle that leaves you feeling fatigued, foggy, and having echoing health consequences if not addressed. But, did you know that those consequences of sleep apnea may even extend to your hair?

Below, we will delve into just what sleep apnea entails, if sleep apnea can negatively affect your hair, the potential causes behind hair loss with sleep apnea, and how you can help protect your hair when you have sleep apnea.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep and breathing disorder where the muscles in the throat relax during sleep, leading to the closing off of the airways for a short amount of time. Your body senses the lack of oxygen and awakens you briefly in order to get you to breathe. This commonly also comes along with the sound of loud snoring, and can happen over and over during the night.

This condition has negative effects related to the lack of quality sleep as well as the pauses in breathing and subsequent declines in oxygen levels.

Symptoms that can occur with sleep apnea include: sleepiness during the day, loud snoring, others noticing your pause in breathing during sleep, gasping or choking abrupt awakenings, having a dry mouth or sore throat after awakening, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating, mood issues including irritability or depression, decreased libido, and high blood pressure.

Can sleep apnea have a negative impact on your hair?

Some studies suggest that there may be a connection between obstructive sleep apnea and hair loss.

One study looked into men with obstructive sleep apnea to see if there was a connection to male pattern hair loss. The results state that obstructive sleep apnea may be a risk factor for male pattern baldness in men that also have a family history of hair loss.

What is the possible connection between sleep apnea and hair loss?

While more studies need to be conducted to figure out if and how sleep apnea and hair loss are related, and to what extent, there may be a few different hypothesized mechanisms.

Disrupted circadian rhythms:

Your body thrives on a strong and regular circadian rhythm, which is closely related to when and how well you sleep. And, it had been found that your circadian clock is also tied to how your hair growth cycle progresses. If your circadian rhythms are thrown off due to ongoing sleep disturbances like sleep apnea, it may contribute to negative effects on your hair growth cycles as well.

Reduced melatonin production:

Melatonin isn’t only your sleep hormone, it turns out that it plays a vital role in healthy hair growth as well. Untreated sleep interruptions like sleep apnea can indirectly lead to less melatonin production, potentially causing negative hair growth cycle consequences as well.

Increased stress:

Chronic stress is bad for your body, including your hair growth goals. Increased stress can lead to increased rapid hair shedding, inhibited growth, or even exacerbated genetic hair loss. Constant sleep interruptions like sleep apnea can cause chronic stress to the body that increases hair loss.

Friction from wearing a CPAP machine for sleep apnea treatment:

An indirect connection between hair loss and sleep apnea is loss of hair from friction on the scalp when wearing a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine can be a great tool in increasing the positive pressure on the throat to help keep it open as a sleep apnea treatment. But, it may cause friction on some parts of the head leading to excess rubbing and potential hair loss from those areas. Luckily, this can usually be remedied by using some form of padding on your machine, or separating the machine from the scalp by wearing a silk or satin head covering.

How can you help reduce hair issues when you have sleep apnea?

Step one in addressing hair loss concerns when you have sleep apnea is to get adequate treatment for the sleep condition. Many sleep apnea patients benefit from the use of a CPAP device to help keep the throat open during sleep and prevent breathing from pausing and jolting the body awake. If your doctor recommends other treatment options or techniques, it is important to try and follow those as well.

If your hair loss seems to be an accelerated or exacerbated genetic hair loss situation, you may see benefits by treating the underlying patterned hair loss to slow the progression. Medications like Finasteride and Minoxidil are commonly used for patterned hair loss. Talk to a doctor about treatment options that may be suitable for you.

If your hair loss looks like it stems from friction on a specific part of your scalp from a CPAP machine, utilizing a silk or satin headwrap, or other cushioning devices for your machine may help reduce friction on the area.

Strut Health prescription hair loss treatments online

Here at Strut, we help pair people with hair loss concerns with prescription hair loss treatments that are best suited to them. Mainly, we help target male and female pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in men and women. While this condition is hereditary at its root, it may still be limited or improved through the use of medications.

If you are interested in seeing if a prescription hair loss medication is a good route for your hair loss concerns, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based telemedicine consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.

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