Thyroid and hair loss
The thyroid creates and produces hormones that play a major role in different systems throughout our body but when the thyroid gland either does not produce enough or produces too much of certain hormones, it’s called a thyroid disease. There are many types of thyroid diseases like hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), both conditions can cause dry, brittle hair or thinning hair on the scalp and body which can lead to serious hair loss problems.
If thyroid conditions are left untreated, it can lead to hair loss because the thyroid affects the development of hair at the root. Hair falls out and may not be replaced by new growth, resulting in thinning of hair across the scalp and other areas such as eyebrows.
An autoimmune condition, called Alopecia is often seen in patients with thyroid conditions. It causes bald patches in more discrete areas. Other autoimmune diseases that may cause hair loss and are often linked to thyroid conditions are polycystic ovary syndrome in females and lupus erythematosus.
Some drugs can also be a cause of hair thinning which are used to treat thyroid conditions. Antithyroid drugs like carbimazole and propylthiouracil can lead to hair loss but these are very rare cases.
Symptoms of thyroid-related hair loss
Early signs of hair loss due to thyroid include hair thinning, and then eventually leading to bald patches. We lose near about 50 - 100 hair strands per day but if the normal hair growth is interrupted due to thyroid, lost hair will not be replenished and a uniform hair loss may occur.
Don’t worry, if you are someone with thyroid conditions experiencing hair loss, this is typically a temporary issue.
Hair loss, as well as hyper-and hypothyroid symptoms, are nonspecific and might be due to other conditions as well. Therefore, please visit a doctor to know the exact reasons.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Feeling cold
- Unexplained weight gain
- Drier-than-usual skin
- Low or depressed mood
Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Increased sweating
- Hand tremors
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thinning of the skin
- Fine or brittle hair
- Muscle weakness
- More frequent bowel movements
- Unexplained weight loss
Treatment for thyroid
Generally, mild forms of thyroid do not cause hair thinning. So, consulting a specialist will keep your condition under control and taking proper medication may keep your hair thicker or regenerate growth. Do not expect immediate results because hair takes some time to develop and then grow.
Home remedies to combat thyroid
Along with proper medication, one can also try out some simple home remedies to slow down hair loss or regenerate hair growth.
Increase iron intake: Ferritin is a blood protein that contains iron. Low levels of ferritin may lead to hair loss. This is because thyroid issues can affect the body’s ferritin levels. So, try including iron-rich foods in your diet to reduce the effects of the thyroid on hair.
Nutritional deficiencies can cause hair loss with or without a thyroid condition. So balancing the levels of the following nutrients can play a role in hair retention.
- vitamins B-7 (biotin) and B complex
- vitamins C, E, and A
- coenzyme Q10
A balanced diet can enhance hair growth so try to eat foods rich in various nutrients. Avoid processed foods, such as sugars, red meat, etc because they can cause an inflammatory response. Caffeine and alcohol may also contribute to inflammation, ultimately worsening your thyroid symptoms, especially hair loss.
To curb inflammation, add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. Ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties that may improve endocrine function. The thyroid is a part of the endocrine system, so enhancing endocrine function may help with the symptoms of thyroid disorders.
Some herbs can also be used to treat hair loss from conditions like alopecia. Herbs like palmetto, black cohosh, dong Quai, false unicorn, red clove, chaste berry, etc can be taken orally. However, we would recommend you discuss with a specialist before trying herbal therapies on your own.
Control iodine intake if you are suffering from autoimmune thyroid because our body uses iodine to make thyroid hormone, so excessive iodine may lead to imbalances. Certain multivitamins and cough syrups also contain iodine, so it is advised to read the labels carefully. Kelp and other kinds of seaweed are also rich in iodine and may worsen thyroid induced symptoms, including hair loss.
Take proper care of the hair to slow down hair loss. Avoid aggressively pulling the hair to make braids, buns, or ponytails. Use a wide-toothed wooden comb to loosen hair knots.
Hair regrowth may take months to be visible, be patient. Meantime, consider wearing a wig or other head coverings. Anxiety and depression may accompany hair loss, so ask your doctor about counselling or join support groups where you can meet and interact with people going through similar problems.
Before trying out any treatment for your hair loss problems, do consult a doctor. Thyroid conditions do not lead to hair loss until they are severe. Do not conclude without examining because hair loss can also be the symptom of another underlying medical condition.