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How to Treat Thyroid-Related Hair Loss | Is Your Thyroid to Blame for Your Hair Loss

Can thyroid issues cause hair loss? Yes. Hair loss is one of the more distressing symptoms of thyroid disease. Find out how to fix it.

Read on

If you deal with hair loss or hair thinning because of thyroid imbalances or thyroid-related autoimmune disease, you are certainly not alone. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid dysfunction -  60% of which do not have an official diagnosis.

According to The American Thyroid Association (ATA), this dysfunction is so prevalent that more than 12% of the population will develop a thyroid condition at some point in his or her lifetime.

Thyroid issues can wreak havoc on your skin, hair, sex drive, waistline, energy levels, anxiety and depression levels, sleep cycles, and even your bone density. If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, you might be no stranger to these problems.

What does the thyroid do?

A butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck, the thyroid is an important hormone-secreting gland. The thyroid produces two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which can influence every cell in your body - dictating heart function, metabolism, and body temperature. (Did we mention it was important?)

A healthily functioning thyroid can balance these two hormones flawlessly. However, this gland can malfunction for a million reasons.

A disorder or disease can occur when the thyroid produces either too little or too much of these hormones. There are many treatments available for thyroid disease, however, changes in hair loss can persist even after thyroid regulating treatment has begun.

Can thyroid issues cause hair loss?

Yes. Hair loss is one of the more distressing symptoms of thyroid disease. Some people experience “clumps” of hair falling out in the shower. While others just notice a generally thinner ponytail. But why does this happen?

Across the board,  thyroid-related hair loss can be caused by abnormal hormonal imbalances and can impair the function of the hair follicles. However, it’s common that normal hair growth is restored once the hormonal abnormality is corrected.

Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause hair loss

Hyperthyroidism is defined by an overactive thyroid. This can be a result of an autoimmune disorder called Graves disease.

Hypothyroidism is defined by an underactive thyroid. This can be a result of an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. An overactive or underactive thyroid can cause overall hair loss as the thyroid has a big role in the development and maintenance of the hair follicles. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause the hair to become dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.

Severe cases:

A sustained imbalance in either extreme can cause severe hair loss. Not having enough or having too little thyroid hormone can be a huge shock to the system. A severe (either untreated or uncontrollable) thyroid disorder can cause a scalp disorder called telogen effluvium causing the hair roots to go into an abnormal growth period of “resting”. During this state of shock, up to 70% of scalp hair can fall out.

What can you do to treat it?

This condition is very common and much has been done in the way of treatment for thyroid patients.

1. Visit your doctor for a thyroid blood panel

The very first thing to do is book a trip to your primary care doctor or endocrinologist (thyroid specialist) to run a series of thyroid panel testing. If you have never been diagnosed or tested for this, arrive at the appointment with all of the symptoms you have been experiencing written down. This symptom tracking can help you in the long run.

2. Balance or replace thyroid hormones

If after your blood testing your physician finds you do have a thyroid imbalance, the next step is trying to rebalance your thyroid hormones. Your doctor might recommend either antithyroid drugs (to control an overactive thyroid) or thyroid hormone replacing drugs (to supplement an underactive thyroid. You can try natural means of correcting your thyroid with nutrition and lifestyle changes (especially if your imbalance is mild). When you balance your thyroid hormones, your hair loss may be remedied.

3. Supplementation: Thyroid related vitamin D deficiency and hair loss

Some hair loss can be caused by nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin D deficiency is a common nutrient deficiency in those with thyroid disease. It is estimated that nearly three-quarters of teen and adult Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D has been linked to general hair loss as well as alopecia.

Read related: Is a Vitamin D Deficiency Causing Your Hair Loss?

Topical hair loss treatments

There are many topical hair loss treatment options. Some of the most trusted contain Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine). Minoxidil can improve the thickness of your hair and help stimulate new hair growth.

Also read: Does Minoxidil Work for Women & How Long Does it Take to Work?

Oral medications for hair loss

A common medication used for male pattern hair loss, finasteride, can help to counteract any hair loss due to hormonal changes. Note, this medication is not suitable for women.

Summary

  • Yes, thyroid disease can cause hair loss. It’s one of the more distressing symptoms of thyroid imbalances or thyroid autoimmune disease.
  • Hair loss can occur because of hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, and androgens - all of which can be affected by thyroid disease.
  • If you are experiencing hair loss due to a thyroid condition, speak with your doctor, and try hair loss topical or oral medications for regrowth.

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