Does Ozempic Cause Hair Loss? An In-Depth Look

Ozempic received its approval in 2017 by the FDA as a treatment to control blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. However, the drug has become extremely popular among celebrities and other healthy individuals due to its use for weight management.

Recently, there has been a growing concern that taking Ozempic might have more side effects than indicated in the package insert. Does Ozempic cause hair loss? Here, we discuss recent research on this drug and its potential effects on hair loss.

What is Ozempic?


Ozempic is a medicine launched by Novo Nordisk in 2017 to control blood sugar in adult patients with type 2 diabetes. It is available only by prescription as injections, and many individuals use it off-label for weight management.

The active substance of Ozempic is semaglutide, which works as an agonist of human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) — a hormone produced by cells in the small intestine when blood glucose levels increase. GLP-1 stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin and regulates the secretion of glucagon (a hormone that increases blood sugar levels). This leads to lower blood sugar levels, both on an empty stomach and after a meal. In addition, GLP-1 is a natural appetite regulator.

Ozempic mimics the GLP-1 hormone, and therefore, it might help with lowering blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, especially after meals. While Ozempic has been widely used as a weight management tool by individuals with obesity or overweight, this indication (weight loss) has not been officially approved by the FDA.

Potential side effects of Ozempic

According to the package insert of Ozempic, side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

Ozempic may also cause serious side effects, such as possible thyroid tumors, including cancer. The prevalence of these side effects has not been specified on the label.

Does Ozempic cause hair loss?


While FDA materials included in the packaging for Ozempic don’t mention any hair-related adverse effects, recently, there has been a rising concern about its potential effects on hair loss. Currently, there is no scientific evidence or clinical trials that support the claim that taking Ozempic might result in hair loss or thinning.

However, the hair shedding on Ozempic might be associated with two factors. First, diabetes itself might contribute to hair thinning. This is because diabetes affects the body’s metabolism, leading to hormonal changes. Changes in insulin or thyroid hormones might impact hair growth and health. Diabetes might also affect blood circulation in the body, including the scalp. Consequently, less oxygen and nutrients are delivered to hair follicles, which might lead to increased hair shedding.

One study published in the International Journal of Women's Dermatology has reported that African-American women with type 2 diabetes were associated with a 68% increased risk of severe central-scalp hair loss compared to healthy female individuals.

The second factor is associated with rapid weight loss, which might lead to telogen effluvium — a condition indicating temporary hair loss that occurs after physical stress, a shock, or a traumatic event. This is a form of nonscarring alopecia characterized by diffuse, often acute, hair shedding. It affects mostly hair that is in the telogen (resting) phase, which represents approximately 15% of the hair on an individual’s scalp. This condition is a reactive process that might be triggered by metabolic stress, hormonal changes, medications, or malnutrition.

Currently, there are several class action lawsuits from individuals suffering from various side effects not included in the package insert. The FDA is investigating reports of side effects from Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonists. This includes aspiration, suicidal ideation, and Ozempic hair loss.

How common is hair loss when taking Ozempic?

There are no clinical data or experimental studies that evaluate the effect of Ozempic on hair loss. Therefore, it is difficult to predict the exact number of individuals who might be affected.

According to the review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, alopecia was reported in 6.9% of patients taking semaglutide (an active ingredient of Ozempic) orally compared to 0.3% of patients taking placebo. This number was lower in individuals taking injections, where only 0.2% of patients reported alopecia compared to 0.5% on placebo.

Ozempic is only available in injection form, and therefore, the potential number of patients experiencing hair loss associated with taking Ozempic is expected to be closer to the numbers reported for injections (0.2% of patients).

Why does hair loss occur during weight loss?


There are several reasons that might be responsible for hair loss during weight loss. This includes:

  • Physiological stress. A drastic reduction in calorie intake might lead the body to physiological stress. This can lead to telogen effluvium. Physiological stress might also increase levels of cortisol, known as a stress hormone, which might disrupt the hair growth cycle.
  • Nutrient deficiencies. Calorie restriction during diet might result in malnutrition. Several nutrients and elements are essential to maintain a healthy scalp. You need to consume sufficient levels of iron and B vitamins for hair growth. The hair is mostly composed of protein (keratin), and insufficient protein intake might lead to the growth of weaker hair, which is more susceptible to breakage.
  • Hormonal changes. Diet might disrupt the hormone balance in the body. Fast weight loss might affect levels of thyroid hormones, which are important in regulating hair growth. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been associated with widespread hair shedding.

How to reduce risks of hair loss from Ozempic

If you are experiencing hair loss while taking Ozempic, you might consider incorporating the following temporary hair loss solutions to improve scalp health and stimulate hair growth:

  • Consult a healthcare professional. Speaking with a healthcare professional — ideally, a trichologist — might help you determine the cause of your hair loss and provide you with a specific plan of action to tackle the problem.
  • Follow an adequate and nutrient-rich diet. Ensuring that your body does not suffer from nutrient deficiency will help you to grow strong hair in the first place. Aim to consume iron-rich foods (e.g., lean meats, spinach, lentils), foods with vitamin B (e.g., whole grains, eggs, leafy greens), and biotin-rich foods (e.g., eggs, nuts, and sweet potatoes).
  • Consider including topical scalp treatments. There are products on the market that effectively promote hair growth. You might consider using minoxidil (Rogaine), which is available over the counter. By using this product, you might extend hair growth cycle phases — in particular, the anagen phase. If you are looking for more natural solutions, you might consider using rosemary, castor, or coconut oil over your scalp.
  • Incorporate scalp care. Scalp massage is a good practice that might be incorporated into daily routine, as it helps with blood circulation. It is also important to clean your scalp regularly with purifying shampoo, which would help to eliminate the excess oil or buildup of any styling product.

Final word

Ozempic, thanks to its ability to lower sugar levels in the blood, has changed the lives of many patients with type 2 diabetes. However, this treatment has also become a panacea for many healthy individuals or celebrities who use it as a method to lose weight.

The known side effects of Ozempic mostly affect the digestive system. Currently, there is no direct scientific evidence linking Ozempic to hair loss. However, it is worth remembering that taking Ozempic might lead to fast weight loss. This might consequently lead to nutritional deficiencies and physical stress, which might contribute to hair thinning and shedding.

If you are experiencing hair loss while on Ozempic, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. They would discuss your situation, determine the underlying cause, and provide hair loss prevention tips.


Key takeaways:


Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.