Hair loss is a normal, natural process that happens to everyone. But when you're struggling with a thyroid disease, you might lose more hair than normal, which can be frustrating and emotionally distressing. Thyroid disease, both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, can interrupt the normal hair growth cycle, causing significant hair loss that can impact your quality of life.
One common question for people diagnosed with thyroid disease is, "will my hair grow back after treatment?" The good news is that, in most cases, the answer is yes — as long as you get the treatment you need.
In this article, we'll explore the connection between thyroid disease and hair loss, including what you can do to combat hair loss if it's related to your thyroid.
To understand how thyroid disease affect your hair growth, you need to first understand how the hair grows. Hair growth is a cycle. Even when you don't notice it, hair falls out and regrows. However, it doesn't grow continuously. Every single hair on your scalp goes through several phases. These include:
The growing phase (Anagen) -This is when the cells in the hair follicle (small pockets on the skin through which your hair grows) divide and grow to make the hair longer. The Anagen phase can last for years; during this time, the hair will grow about 1 cm per month. Around 90% of your hair is in the anagen phase at any time.
The transition phase (Catagen) - This is a transitional phase in which the follicle shrinks and hair growth slows. This phase lasts for about 10 days or so.
The resting phase (Telogen) - This when the hair follicle rests, and the hair shaft is slowly pushed out. Hair doesn't grow in this phase, but it usually doesn't fall out, either. This phase can last for several months. Many experts consider this the last phase of hair growth, but some divide it into telogen and exogen.
The shedding phase (exogen) - This is the final stage of hair growth. In this stage, the hair shafts push themselves out of the follicles, and the old hairs fall out. This process happens slowly, so you might not notice it happening.
Thyroid disease occurs when your thyroid is not producing the right amount of thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) is a condition when your thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) is when your thyroid produces too much of those hormones. These conditions cause different symptoms and changes in your body. However, both can cause the hair to become thin and brittle and eventually fall out.
Thyroid hormones, specifically triiodothyronine (active thyroid hormone - T3) and thyroxine (inactive thyroid hormone - T4) play a crucial part in regulating a variety of bodily function, including the healthy growth of your hair follicle. Impaired thyroid function can interfere with the phases of hair growth, so your hair can't grow properly.
When your body has a thyroid hormone imbalance, either too much or not enough thyroid hormone, it can go into a state called telogen effluvium. This is a condition when the growing phase of the hair (anagen) is too short, so the resting (telogen) and shedding phase (exogen) comes too early and last for far too long. As a result, your hair will fall out prematurely and not be replaced as quickly, so more hair will fall, but less hair will grow.
The transitional phase between growth and resting may also be affected. This can lead to a build-up of follicles in the resting state and further hair loss.
Another way thyroid disease can cause hair loss is when your thyroid produces too much T4. The excess T4 can cause inflammation in the scalp, which can lead to hair loss. In some cases, this inflammation can also lead to permanent scarring on the scalp, making it difficult for new hair to grow. This can lead to mild thinning hair or even complete baldness.
Aside from the imbalance of thyroid hormone in your body, there are other ways your thyroid disease can contribute to your hair loss.
Surprisingly, the medications you take to balance your thyroid hormone can cause hair loss. However, it's usually temporary. Some antithyroid drugs to treat hyperthyroidism, such as methimazole and propylthiouracil, may lead to unfortunate hair loss.
Hypothyroidism medications, such as levothyroxine, can initially increase hair loss caused by low thyroid hormone, but usually only in the first month of treatment.
What about the natural options? Does Armour Thyroid cause hair loss? Yes, just like levothyroxine, natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) can cause temporary hair loss.
In most cases, it can be hard to tell whether your hair loss is caused by your impaired thyroid function itself or the medication.
Some people with thyroid problems suffer from autoimmune thyroid disease, which puts them at a greater risk of developing other autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system targets and damages your hair follicles. Thus, the targeted follicles stop producing new hair, causing hair fall.
Alopecia areata is often characterized by diffuse hair loss. The hair loss typically occurs in patches. The hair may come out in clumps or gradually over time. There may be several bald spots on the head or a single large spot. Aside from the scalp, hair loss may also occur in the face and other body parts. In severe cases, you might experience total hair loss on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and even beard area. You might lose body hair as well.
Aside from hair loss, thyroid patients with alopecia areata might have pitting of the nails that looks like small dents on the surface of the nails. Another sign is thinning of the nails, which can make them appear brittle and fragile.
In addition to alopecia areata, other autoimmune conditions are linked to autoimmune thyroid disease and may cause hair loss. Polycystic ovary syndrome is one of the most common autoimmune conditions that is linked to thyroid disease.
With both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, hair loss may develop slowly. Patches may not always be noticeable. The signs and symptoms can be different depending on the underlying cause.
Hair frequently falls out in handfuls if you have telogen effluvium. Although the condition can damage hair on any body region, it is typically most evident on the scalp.
If you have autoimmune alopecia areata, you might notice that you lose hair in isolated and frequently circular patches.
Other characteristic patterns of thyroid hair loss are as follows:
Diffuse hair loss that affects specific parts of the scalp and leaves behind round, smooth bald patches
Thinning all over the head instead of just in one particular area
Changes in your hair's texture. Hypothyroidism may make your hair dry and coarse and fall out in clips. Conversely, your hair may become fine and downy with hyperthyroidism.
So if you're experiencing any or all of these symptoms, it's likely that your thyroid is to blame.
Now that you know that your thyroid condition is the culprit behind your hair loss, the next step is knowing what to do to bring your hair back. While it may take some time for your hair to return to its pre-thyroid state, treatment and lifestyle changes can help bring it back. So if you're worried about thinning hair, treatment may be the key to getting your locks back.
One way to treat thyroid hair loss is to treat your thyroid problem. This means that you need medication or other treatment to manage your thyroid issues and balance the thyroid hormone levels in your body. Finding the right thyroid medication can make a world of difference in your life, so be sure to work with your doctor.
If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor may prescribe levothyroxine. NDT is another recommended option. Both work by replacing the missing thyroid hormone in the body, which helps to regulate the body's metabolism. One great option if you want to try NDT is VitaliThy. This NDT supplement is available to buy online, without prescription.
For hyperthyroidism, the possible medications include propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole. They work by blocking the production of thyroid hormones. In some cases, internal radiation therapy and surgery might be necessary.
Keep in mind that results will not be immediate. It takes some time for your hair to develop and grow. Therefore, hair growth may become apparent after treatment in a few months. And when your hair finally grows back, it may be a different color or texture. Plus, the new hair may be thinner or thicker.
In order to speed up hair growth, you might be able to take one of the following drugs:
Rogaine (minoxidil)is applied topically to the scalp twice daily and is thought to work by widening blood vessels and encouraging hair follicles to enter the growing phase.
Propecia (finasteride)is taken orally and works by inhibiting the production of DHT, a hormone that contributes to hair loss. However, Propecia might not be as effective since thyroid hair loss isn't caused by DHT.
So you've been taking thyroid medications but see no improvements? You're probably not on the right type and dose. You will always experience thyroid hair loss if your thyroid medication dose is too low or too high. The key to fixing this problem is to adjust your thyroid medication dosage.
For those with hypothyroidism, taking a higher dose of thyroid medication may increase your thyroid hormone levels. Thus, improving hair growth. But besides the correct dose, the type of medications and supplements you're taking also have an impact.
Some thyroid patients still have symptoms of hypothyroidism even when they're taking levothyroxine. This is because T3 plays an essential role in hair growth, but levothyroxine is a T4-only hormone.
Keep in mind that your body needs to convert T4 to T3 to use it. However, many people have issues with this conversion. In this case, NDT medications and NDT supplements, such as Armour Thyroid, VitaliThy, and Real Thyroid, might be a great solution. This is because NDT contains both T4 and T3, so your body can use it more effectively.
A balanced diet is essential for treating your thyroid. Therefore, you should consider eating whole foods that are rich in nutrients necessary for your thyroid health, such as selenium, iodine, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, and all the B vitamins. Moreover, a diet that's easy to digest, such as sweet, ripe fruits and meats that are low in Polyunsaturated Acids (PUFA), is also good.
You may also want to add protein- and calcium-rich food to your diet since they can promote the health and growth of your hair. Protein is the building block for hair, so it will help you grow strong and healthy hair. Calcium is especially important to promote hair growth. Some good sources of protein and calcium are milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
It's a good idea to eliminate processed foods, such as cereals and sugar, from your diet. Processed foods can set off an inflammatory response. And thyroid hair loss and other thyroid symptoms may get worse if there is inflammation.
Ferritin is a protein found in nearly all cells in the body. It is used to store iron and release it when needed.
Abnormal thyroid function may interfere with the intake and absorption of iron, leading to low ferritin. And when you have low ferritin, you may experience hair loss. Therefore, it's a good idea to boost your iron levels by consuming iron-rich foods like meat or fish. You can also take iron supplements.
If you are not getting enough of the right nutrients, it can lead to hair loss. Researchers explain that there are a few key nutrients that play a role in hair loss and hair retention. These include vitamin B-7 (biotin), vitamin B complex, copper, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and coenzyme Q10. You can boost these nutrients by taking multivitamins. Biotin supplements are usually recommended for those struggling with hair loss.
However, remember that too many supplements can also cause hair thinning. Some supplements may also interfere with the absorption of your thyroid medication. Therefore, always talk to your doctor first before taking any supplements.
This is a challenging thing to do. However, when you are under a lot of stress, your body produces more cortisol (your body's primary stress hormone). An unhealthy amount of cortisol can throw the balance of your hormones out of whack, causing unwanted thyroid problems and leading to hair loss.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for many reasons, especially if you have thyroid disorder and experience hair loss. Regular exercise can improve blood flow to different body parts, including the scalp. This will encourage the growth of strong and healthy hair.
Thyroid hair loss usually causes dry and brittle hair, so make sure you take good care of your hair to avoid making things worse. Avoid using perming products, hair dyes, and harsh shampoos since they can only worsen your hair loss and delay its recovery. Styling tools, such as hair straighteners or curlers, can also cause irreversible damage to your hair cuticles.
It's also important to treat your hair gently. Putting additional pressure on your hair follicles can lead to more damage and make it harder for regrowth to occur. Therefore, don't pull your hair in tight buns, ponytails, or braids. It's also a good idea to avoid hair extensions.
Hair growth is not something that happens overnight, even in normal conditions. Therefore, it can take weeks and even months to see any improvement if you have a thyroid disorder. Patience is key.
Remember that hair loss is nothing to be ashamed of. There's nothing wrong with having thin hair or even being bald. But if it is something that bothers you, consider wearing a wig, head scarves, hats, or other covering methods while you wait for your hair to regrow.
Losing hair can be a difficult and distressing experience for anyone, but thyroid related hair loss can be especially troubling. Thyroid hair loss can be caused by the thyroid disease itself, thyroid medications, or an autoimmune condition.
One of the primary ways to reverse hair loss caused by thyroid issues is to treat the underlying conditions. Levothyroxine and NDT are the treatment options for those with hypothyroidism. On the other hand, those with hyperthyroidism may be recommended to take methimazole and PTU. These medications will balance the thyroid levels in your body.
Some people with hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid still experience hair loss when they're only taking levothyroxine. In this case, adding or switching to NDT can be a solution to ease hypothyroidism symptoms, including hair loss. If you want to make the switch, consider VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online.
In addition to treating the underlying thyroid problems, there are other ways to reserve thyroid-related hair loss. These include eating a well-balanced diet, increasing your iron intake, taking multivitamins, regulating stress, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and looking after your hair. You can also consider taking minoxidil or finasteride to speed up hair growth. But whatever you decide to do, it's best that you consult with your doctor first.
With time, the correct treatment, and patience, you may once again enjoy the pride and joy that comes with having a full head of healthy hair.
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