Depression can affect hair

When drugs cause severe hair loss

Different causes of hair loss

Hair loss can have different causes. These include genetic material, stress, but also drugs, which, according to dermatologists, are much more likely to be responsible for hair loss than expected.

Hair loss due to medication - (C) Image license: Arek Socha / Pixabay

Hair loss is divided into four basic forms of alopecia: hereditary hair loss, stress-related hair loss, diffuse hair loss and circular hair loss. These can be distinguished from one another by the underlying causes and symptoms of hair loss. If drugs trigger severe hair loss, the result is usually diffuse hair loss.

How do drugs affect hair growth?

Hair growth is cyclical and divided into three different phases. When a new hair is formed by a hair follicle, it is initially in the growth phase, before it enters the transition phase after two to six years and then falls out during the dormant phase. If the hair growth is healthy, then new hair will grow back. This cycle is repeated an average of 14 times.

When taking medication, active ingredients can reach the hair roots via the blood during the growth phase and slow down or even stop hair growth there. About 80% of all hair is in the growth phase at the same time. In this way, the body ensures that there is always enough hair available. If hair growth is negatively influenced by the ingredients of a drug, it can lead to severe hair loss.

What drugs can cause hair loss?

Many medications that can cause hair loss are known and often prescribed by doctors.

Prescription beta blockers, which are prescribed for high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, can in some cases cause the hair roots to die. If this is the case, no more hair can be formed. The active ingredients metoprolol and propanolol in particular are associated with this side effect. ACE inhibitors can cause hair loss in a similar way.

Many people have ibuprofen as a pain reliever in their medicine cabinet. With frequent use, hair can become thinner and eventually hair loss can occur. How often this effect occurs is unclear, but tests have shown that over half of the test subjects complained of problems with their hair after taking ibuprofen regularly.

To avoid blood clots, which can be fatal, especially after operations, many people take blood thinners. Heparin is one of the most common drugs and one of the causes of hair loss. Because heparin damages the hair follicles and leads to hair loss. The hair grows back as soon as the drug is stopped and the hair follicles have been able to regenerate.

Doctors usually prescribe medicines that contain retinoids for acne and some other skin conditions. Retinoids are closely related to vitamin A, which normally protects the hair follicles. If retinoids penetrate the hair follicle, an overdose occurs and the hair falls into a kind of coma and can fall out. Retionoids also act on cells that produce keratin. Keratin is an essential part of the hair structure. The density, distribution and color of the body hair can be influenced by the action. Those affected by hair loss can often simply get another drug prescribed to eliminate the cause of the hair loss.

Compared to other drugs, antidepressants do not affect the growth phase, but rather the rest phase of the hair. This normally takes about three months before the hair dies. Various remedies that are used for depressive symptoms, such as imipramine, doxepin or fluoxetine, ensure that the resting phase stops and the hair dies immediately after the transition phase. There is premature, increased hair loss and the hair becomes thinner overall. The side effect can persist for up to a year after the drug is stopped.

The following drugs can also be possible causes of hair loss:

  • various antibiotics
  • Medicines for rheumatism
  • Thyroid medication
  • Contraceptive pills with a high progestin content
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Lipid lowering agents
  • Drugs for epilepsy
  • Psoriasis medication

Counteract severe hair loss

It often helps to discuss the problem with the attending physician. This can often simply prescribe a different medication and the change can already regulate the hair loss. Alternative pain therapies are also a possible way to avoid the active ingredients that have been identified as causing hair loss. However, it is not always possible to stop taking a drug or switch to another form of therapy.

Then the right hair loss shampoo can be a great way to manage symptoms. A caffeine shampoo not only cares for the hair and scalp, but also promotes hair growth, protects the hair roots, counteracts hair loss and promotes blood circulation in the scalp. No side effects were found in laboratory tests.