Thyroid is a small gland which has the shape like a butterfly that sits low on the front of the neck. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream.
The important hormones produced by thyroid gland are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)
Furthermore, thyroid conditions occur when your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones Or producing too much of hormones. The most common type of thyroid conditions are as following:
- Hypothyroidism (also known as underactive thyroid)
- Hyperthyroidism (also known as overactive thyroid)
Both conditions (Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism) can cause dry, brittle hair or thinning hair on your scalp and body.
The Link between Thyroid Conditions and Hair Loss
Thyroid conditions can cause hair loss if they are severe and left untreated. But, before understanding how these conditions cause hair loss, let us first understand the hair growth process.
- Hair starts growing from the roots (bottom of your hair follicles) on your scalp.
- Your scalp’s blood vessels provide nutrients to the root and help in hair growth.
- Hair pushes up and out through your skin. The hair passes through the oil glands that help maintain the required moisture in the hair.
- Hair grows for sometime and then falls off as a new hair growth cycle starts.
Kindly note, the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) directly affect hair growth and its development. When the hormone production is disturbed, it can lead to hair thinning across your scalp and other areas such as your eyebrows.
Hair loss due to Autoimmune thyroid disease
Most people with Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism have autoimmune thyroid disease. If someone has one type of autoimmune disease, he/she is more likely to develop another autoimmune condition for example:
Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss in people having autoimmune thyroid disease.
It causes circular patches of hair loss in more discrete areas. In most cases this is temporary and does not progress, but unfortunately it can cause significant baldness.
There are other rare autoimmune conditions that can also cause hair loss :
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- lupus erythematosus
Hair loss due to Antithyroid Drugs
Some antithyroid drugs such as (carbimazole and propylthiouracil) can, in rare cases, cause hair loss. But, it may be very difficult to tell whether the drug or your thyroid condition is causing hair loss.
Furthermore, it is very rare for anti-thyroid drugs or treatment to cause hair loss. Kindly note, Antithyroid drugs are used to treat an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism).
Symptoms of Thyroid Related Hair Loss
Slow and gradual thinning of hair is the most common symptom of thyroid related hair loss. You may notice more than usual hair lose while combing.
Furthermore, hair loss may develop slowly with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. You won’t necessarily see patches or bald spots on your scalp, but, your hair may seem thinner all over.
In most cases, hair loss caused by thyroid conditions is temporary, but regrowth of hairs may take several months.
It is important to note here that, you can still experience hair loss even after starting medicines for your thyroid condition. This is because the hair growth cycle is a months long process. But some people start wrongly blaming the thyroid medicines for hair loss. Unfortunately, if they stop their thyroid medicines, the hair loss problem will become worse.
Kindly note, it is perfectly normal to lose 50–100 hairs from your head each day. However, hair loss beyond this needs medical attention and may be related to thyroid problem.
Treatment options for thyroid related hair loss
Dear Reader, always remember that, “Treating thyroid related hair loss requires treating the Thyroid Problem“.
Working with your doctor to keep your thyroid disorder under control with medication may keep your hair thicker and can regenerate hair growth. But try to be patient because, regrowth of hairs can be unpredictable and may take several months.
Treatment for an underactive thyroid – (hypothyroidism):
- levothyroxine: Your doctor will usually prescribe a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
This medicine is given when your thyroid gland does not produce enough of this hormone on its own.
Treatment for an overactive thyroid – (hyperthyroidism):
- Antithyroid medications: Antithyroid medications, such as (propylthiouracil and methimazole) decrease the thyroid gland’s ability to make the thyroid hormone. It is used to treat overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
- Radioactive iodine: This treatment kills some cells in the thyroid gland and reduce the amount of hormones that the gland produces. This treatment induces hypothyroidism, which is then managed by using thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest the life.
- Surgery: Your doctor will monitor your thyroid levels while you are on medication. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. It involves the removal of some or all of the thyroid gland, which may lead to hypothyroidism.
Kindly note, with the treatment, hair growth may be noticeable within several months. But be aware that the new hair may differ in color or texture from your original hair.
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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
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Home Remedies for thyroid related hair loss
Along with medication suggested by your doctor, you may try different home remedies to slowdown hair loss or regenerate hair growth. While the home remedies given below do not hold any scientific evidence, but you can give them a try to boost your hair growth.
1. Eating a balanced diet can help in growth and improve the condition of your hair. Foods that can increase the chances of having healthy hair include:
- Fish: Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent a dry scalp.
- Green vegetables: Vegetables such as spinach have high levels of vitamins A and C. These vitamins can improve the condition of hair.
- Protein rich foods: Eating foods rich in protein can help prevent weak hair. Dairy products, nuts and lean meats all contain high levels of protein.
- Calcium rich foods: Calcium is key to hair growth. Dairy products, such as milk and cheese are Good sources of calcium.
- Iron Rich Foods: Iron deficiency and thyroid related hair loss are related. You can get tested for iron levels in your body and consider supplements for iron rich foods like liver, eggs, lamb, green leafy vegetables and so on.
2. Apply Essential Oils: Essential oils like eucalyptus oil and other plant extracts are known to improve hair growth. But, it’s important to talk with your doctor before using essential oils and use caution while choosing a quality brand.
Furthermore, you should also always do a patch test before using any essential oil for hair growth.
3. Control Iodine Intake: People with autoimmune thyroid disorders should check their iodine consumption. The body uses iodine to make thyroid hormone, so too much of iodine consumption may lead to imbalances.
Therefore, It is very important to understand how much iodine you would require in a day.
4. Yoga Asanas: A healthy lifestyle, which includes balanced diet and regular exercise, can help you live well with thyroid disease. Furthermore, adding yoga to your daily routine may help improve your thyroid function and hair growth.
Dear Reader, please discuss the above mentioned home remedies with your doctor before you start.