Is Your Thyroid Condition or Medication Causing Your Thinning Hair?
If you suffer from an underactive or overactive thyroid, then one of the unpleasant side-effects of these conditions can be hair loss.
An estimated 8 million UK women experience hair loss to some degree. Whilst hair loss can be seen as typical, particularly in terms of female pattern baldness which occurs as we age, there are other health issues which can exacerbate hair loss in younger women. Thyroid disorders can be responsible for hair loss, particularly when they occur for a prolonged period of time. If you’re experiencing symptoms of alopecia and have a known thyroid condition, then this guide will help you understand why this is happening and how to seek help.
Types of Thyroid Disorders
Thyroid disease falls into two main categories, namely hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland becomes underactive and fails to produce enough hormones to regulate the body’s metabolism. If this happens, then many of the body’s functions are negatively impacted, including the hair’s growth and renewal cycle.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, the opposite is true. With this illness, the body produces too large a volume of thyroid hormones which can cause a multitude of unpleasant physical symptoms including twitching, sweating and the thinning of scalp hair.
Delicate Balance of Hair Growth
Although both of these thyroid conditions are different, the effect on the hair’s growth and renewal cycles is quite similar. In a healthy cycle, your hair goes through a stage of growth, followed by a period of rest which is known as telogen. Each follicle is on their own way individual journey through these stages, which means you have a continuous pattern of hair loss which is balanced out at the same time by new growth. When this equilibrium is disturbed due to thyroid illness, the hair follicles may be forced to enter telogen effluvium which sends all follicles into their resting phase. With no growth to counter the hair loss, a person will begin to notice hair loss occurring across their scalp.
What Can Be Done?
Quick diagnosis of your hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism is essential for your overall physical health as well as being able to beat the symptoms of hair loss. If you have any suspicion that you may have a thyroid issue, then it’s important to get this tested by your doctor. Thyroid conditions can be supported by taking medication and in most cases your hair growth will be improved after you have begun treatment.
Unfortunately, some thyroid patients who take drugs such as carbimazole or propylthiouracil note that hair loss is worsened by this type of medication. It can be difficult to initially determine whether the drugs are to blame or whether a patient is experiencing a delay to their hair loss from a thyroid disorder that began several months ago. However, radioiodine isn’t associated with hair loss so could be a positive solution for your symptoms.
Although it may take a while for your hair to grow back in more severe cases, you can use solutions such as wigs or hair toppers to maintain your usual physical appearance. The latest hair solutions are incredibly discreet and look entirely natural so can give your self-esteem an incredible boost. Understandably though, you might feel that your mental health has suffered following any sudden hair loss, so you may wish to gain support from groups such as Alopecia UK. The charity has an extensive list of resources and active hair loss community which can be an invaluable support for those with thyroid disorders.
Being open to accepting support from friends, family members and people who have been through the same experience is essential when dealing with a thyroid disorder. Don’t suffer in silence, make use of the resources available to you.