The thyroid gland is a tiny, butterfly-shaped structure in the bottom front of your neck. It produces hormones that control your metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, and more. Interestingly, these hormones also influence your luscious locks. If your thyroid function becomes too sluggish or overactive, it can disrupt normal hair growth, leading to clumps of hair falling out, thinning, and a lackluster appearance.
Too little or too much thyroid hormone production can interrupt your normal hair growth cycle, leading to excessive shedding or thinning of hair.
Hair loss from thyroid dysfunction often manifests as diffuse thinning, where hair becomes brittle, weak, and easily prone to breakage. It may also affect the eyebrows and other body hair.
Identifying and treating the underlying thyroid disorder is key to managing hair loss. The appropriate treatment approach may involve hormone replacement therapy or anti-thyroid medications, depending on the underlying disorder.
In addition to medication, adopting a healthy lifestyle can support hair regrowth. This includes a nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, stress management techniques, and sufficient sleep.
Having one autoimmune disease raises your chances of having other ones that can affect hair growth, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease.
Let's explore how thyroid conditions impact hair growth and discover potential solutions for restoring healthy and vibrant hair.
Thyroid-related hair loss can manifest in various ways, and the texture of the hair may provide clues. In hypothyroidism, your hair may feel dry and rough like straw in a haystack. It lacks the natural shine and bounce and becomes prone to breakage.
How do thyroid conditions cause hair loss?
Do you know that your hair growth journey begins with the activity of specialized stem cells within your hair follicles? These bulge stem cells are nestled in the bulge region of your strands. They play a vital role in producing new hair follicles, ensuring the continuous growth of your luscious locks.
Research reveals thyroid hormones mobilize these dormant stem cells from their hair bulges. Once mobilized, they work to produce new hair follicles. Accelerated new hair follicle growth paves the way for healthy and vibrant hair.
However, low or high thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism) impair stem cell function, negatively impacting your hair growth cycle. Hypothyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid gland, meaning your thyroid fails to produce enough thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism is the opposite of hypothyroidism and refers to an overactive thyroid gland with excessive production of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid conditions can also indirectly lead to hair loss by triggering autoimmune diseases that attack your hair follicles. For instance, alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes patchy hair loss and is more common in those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is also an autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism. This connection highlights the likelihood of developing multiple autoimmune diseases at the same time and their impact on hair growth.
Another example where autoimmune thyroid disease causes hair loss by way of another autoimmune disease is when it's accompanied by celiac disease. Celiac disease is also an autoimmune condition in which your body can’t handle gluten, a protein in wheat and other grains. Gluten can damage your small intestine, impacting nutrient absorption like iron. Iron deficiency, in turn, leads to hair loss.
Moreover, celiac disease can also trigger alopecia areata. Therefore, having both Hashimoto's and celiac disease significantly increases your risk of hair loss.
How to know if your hair loss is from the thyroid?
Hair loss from thyroid disorders is usually widespread, affecting the entire scalp rather than localized areas. However, autoimmune thyroid disease can cause patchy hair loss, known as alopecia areata. This hair loss can also occur in other body parts, such as eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic hair. Moreover, hair loss symptoms manifest progressively as thyroid disorders develop gradually.
In addition to hair loss, thyroid issues also cause changes in hair texture, such as dryness, coarseness, and brittleness.
But these hair symptoms rarely occur as an isolated overactive or underactive thyroid phenomenon. To know if the thyroid is to blame for your hair loss, you should watch out for other telltale signs and symptoms.
Thyroid-related hair loss: Signs & symptoms
When thyroid issues are at play, additional symptoms often accompany hair loss that can vary depending on the underlying thyroid disorder.
|Symptoms of hair loss due to hypothyroidism||Signs of hair loss related to hyperthyroidism|
|Feeling excessively cold||Unexplained weight loss|
|Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight||Rapid or irregular heartbeat|
|Relentless fatigue and sluggishness||Heat sensitivity and excessive sweating|
|Drier-than-usual skin||Hand tremors|
|Brittle nails||Anxiety and difficulty sleeping|
|Forgetfulness||Skin thinning and hair fragility|
|Low mood||Swelling around the eyes with occasional eye protrusion|
How to reduce hair loss due to thyroid issues
You can take the following steps to address hair loss from thyroid conditions and potentially improve your hair condition:
Seek medical advice
You should consult a doctor if you experience hair loss with the above-listed thyroid disease indicators. Your doctor will run the following blood tests to evaluate your thyroid function.
- Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4)
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Anti-thyroglobulin (Tg-Ab) and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO-Ab)
Take medication to stabilize thyroid function
Addressing hair loss related to thyroid dysfunction involves tackling the root cause — restoring thyroid balance. Depending on your diagnosis, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to regulate your thyroid hormone levels.
Treatment options for hyperthyroidism include medicines to suppress your thyroid, radioactive iodine therapy, or surgery, depending on the severity and underlying cause.
For hypothyroidism-induced hair loss, your doctor may prescribe synthetic thyroid hormones like levothyroxine to supplement what the gland is lacking.
Following the prescribed treatment plan and regularly monitoring your hormone levels can help stabilize thyroid function and promote healthier hair growth.
Eat a balanced diet
Keep nourishing your body with a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like biotin, vitamin D, iron, and protein. These nutrients are vital for hair health and can support optimal growth.
Practice gentle hair care
As with any type of hair loss, thyroid-related hair loss also involves incorporating gentle hair care practices. These include avoiding harsh styling tools, excessive heat, and chemical treatments that can further sabotage fragile hair. Use gentle shampoos and conditioners suitable for your hair type and nourishing hair masks or oils to boost moisture and strength.
Manage your stress levels
Stress management is vital to any hair loss treatment. Because stress can exacerbate hair loss, so adopting healthy strategies to cope with stress levels is crucial. Engage in relaxation techniques such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies that bring you joy and help alleviate stress.
It's important to remember that it may take time for improvements to become noticeable. Be patient and consistent with your treatment plan while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Will the lost hair from thyroid problems grow back?
The good news is that hair loss caused by an underactive or hyperactive thyroid can often be reversed with effective management. As hormone levels stabilize through proper treatment, your hair growth cycle can resume its regular pattern, leading to regrowth. As thyroid function improves, hair follicles receive the nourishment they need, allowing for regrowth.
But patience is key here, as the hair growth process is slow. Your hair has a long life cycle and takes time to respond to changes in hormone levels. Consistent adherence to medication and regular thyroid level monitoring can optimize hair restoration chances.
Your thyroid indeed plays a role in hair loss, but it's not the end of the world. With timely and accurate treatment, you can bring your thyroid and hair back to life. Remember, the road to hair regrowth may be long. But with patience and perseverance, you'll be rocking those fabulous locks again!
Are there any natural treatments for thyroid hair loss?
No, While natural treatments for thyroid hair loss may not directly address the underlying thyroid problem, certain measures can optimize hair health. These include maintaining a balanced diet, taking thyroid-supporting nutrients like iodine and selenium, managing stress levels, and avoiding harsh hair treatments.
Can thyroid treatment also cause hair loss?
Yes. Though levothyroxine is a hormone used to treat hypothyroidism-related hair loss, it can occasionally cause hair loss as a side effect. Fortunately, this hair loss is temporary and tends to resolve as treatment progresses and thyroid hormone levels normalize.
How long does it take for hair to grow after thyroid treatment?
Hair regrowth after thyroid treatment can vary from person to person. It generally takes several months for new hair to start growing noticeably. However, the exact timeframe depends on your health, cause, treatment, and hair cycle. Patience and sticking to your treatment regimen while working closely with a doctor to monitor progress are paramount.
- Indian Journal of Dermatology. Thyroid Disorders Associated with Alopecia Areata in Egyptian Patients.
- Molecular Biology of the Cell. Thyroid hormone signaling controls hair follicle stem cell function.
- Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Reversible Hair Loss due to Levothyroxine Overdose.