What is lupus related hair loss?

Hair loss

What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can affect any part of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood, brain, muscles and more.

Lupus is a complex autoimmune condition and it has its own set of symptoms. The principal ones are fever, swelling and painful joints, hair loss, skin rashes and ulcers.

Why is lupus hair loss? 

A lupus-related hair loss (lupus hair loss, lupus-induced baldness) is very common in people with lupus, affecting 40% of patients.

The most common cause of hair loss in lupus patients is inflammation which could lead to hair breakage. Hair loss may also be a result of lupus medications. In many cases, lupus treatment improves hair loss and the hair starts growing again. Sometimes though, the hair loss persists.

In most cases, hair grows back when lupus is treated but some people with lupus develop round lesions on the scalp, which can scar your hair follicles. This can cause permanent hair loss. 

What are the Causes of Hair Loss with Lupus?

Hair loss with lupus can be caused due to systemic lupus, which is related to the autoimmune basis of the disease and is linked with hair loss. Another cause may be due to discoid lupus, wherein the hair follicles get damaged permanently resulting from scarring. This leads to hair loss.

What are the Symptoms of Lupus Hair Loss?

Lupus does not always affect the hair but when it does, you can see an increase in the number of shed hair. It is totally normal to shed up to 100 hair strands a day but people with lupus can lose more than this amount depending on the severity of lupus.

Some people may experience breakage around their hairline whereas others may lose clumps of hair. It is difficult to determine whether hair loss will be widespread or limited to a section of the head. 

How to Treat Lupus Hair Loss?

Lupus hair loss may be reversible if you don’t have discoid lesions. In addition to corticosteroid and an immunosuppressant to manage symptoms, you may also be suggested by your doctor to take an antimalarial drug that will reduce lupus flares.

Biologics are intravenous drugs that can help relieve lupus symptoms. Your doctor may give instructions on how to take these drugs. 

Given below are some tips to help you cope with lupus hair loss:

  • Avoid sun exposure because the sun can trigger lupus flares and discoid lesions. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen to protect your skin and head when outdoors.

  • Change your medications if you believe any of those are contributing to your hair loss. Your doctor can prescribe alternative drugs or perhaps might reduce your dosage.

  • Eat a balanced diet that must be rich in fruits and vegetables. It may also slow down hair loss and help your hair in providing vital nutrients.

  • Supplements like biotin and multivitamins can promote and strengthen your hair growth.

  • Try to reduce your stress levels because these factors can trigger lupus flare and worsen your hair condition. Also, get plenty of powerful naps to stay healthy and fit.

How to Prevent Lupus Hair Loss?

Hair loss is not always preventable but certain hair care practices may help you reduce the amount of hair that you are losing.

  • Avoid sleeping on cotton pillowcases as they can absorb the natural oil from your scalp and hair. Instead, use satin pillowcases to protect your hair from frizziness and breakage.

  • Keep your scalp hydrated to prevent dryness because brittle hair can break off easily, resulting in thinning or weak strands.

  • Avoid shampoos that contain harsh chemicals. Instead, use shampoos that are free from sulphate, parabens, etc.

  • Limit your frequency of using styling tools and tight rollers. Avoid using artificial colours.

Until hair loss stops or reverses itself, try wearing wigs or cut your hair into a shorter style to mask your scalp. 

Other Causes of Hair Loss

  1. Genetic Hair Loss: Hereditary-pattern hair loss is the most common cause. If you have a family history of baldness, you are very likely to experience hair fall due to genetic factors. This type of hair loss can begin as early as puberty because certain sex hormones trigger these hereditary hair losses.
  2. Hormonal Changes: Hair loss due to hormonal changes is usually temporary in nature. Your hair will start growing back without any treatments.
  3. Medical Conditions: Medical conditions such as thyroid, diabetes, alopecia areata, scalp infections, smoking can cause hair loss. Certain medications used to treat health conditions like cancer, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, etc. can also trigger hair loss.

Sometimes emotional or physical shock can also induce hair loss. These shocks include:

  • High fever
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Accident
  • Death of a close family member

Hair loss can also be due to tight hairstyles or the use of styling tools/heating tools. People with trichotillomania, which is a hair-pulling disorder, also experience hair loss. An imbalanced diet or lack of nutrients in the body can also lead to hair thinning.

Take Away

Lupus makes the hairline fragile and more prone to breakage. Hair loss may be one of the early signs of lupus. But there are other illnesses as well that can cause hair loss. We recommend consulting a doctor if you notice unusual hair thinning or hair loss.

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