Health is, for most people, among those things that you can easily take for granted. Because when it is good, you don’t think twice about it. But, when it becomes bad and something is bothering you, you will jump on your Google quest to find out what exactly is going on.
For most men, hair loss can come because of male pattern baldness, primarily chalked up to genetics. But hair loss can always mean something bigger, and when talking about autoimmune diseases like Lupus or alopecia areata, it isn’t really such a fun situation to deal with.
In this article, we have made sure to cover the most common autoimmune diseases that lead to hair loss, as well as how you can treat hair loss as effectively as possible.
Autoimmune Diseases That Cause Hair Loss
There are many autoimmune diseases that can lead to hair loss- as above mentioned, we’ll cover some of them below. While it is our pleasure to be your safe haven on the internet, we still insist on seeing a healthcare professional for medical advice and for a proper diagnosis. Meanwhile, let’s talk about some of the autoimmune diseases that trigger your hair loss.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 2% of the population. After male pattern baldness, it is the second most common form of non-scarring hair loss.
It generally presents itself in tell-tale indications of ring-shaped patterns of hair loss (differently from the diffuse thinning noticed in some other conditions, like male pattern baldness) when the immune system attacks the hair follicle. Though it mostly affects the scalp, it can be the cause of body hair loss.
Alopecia areata can come as a result of different autoimmune diseases such as hay fever, thyroid disorders, Down syndrome, atopic dermatitis, asthma, and vitiligo.
Some other medical conditions frequently related to alopecia areata as causes of hair loss include multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes mellitus, frontal fibrosing alopecia, lichen planopilaris, and lupus erythematosus.
Linked quite frequently to alopecia areata, LE, or lupus erythematosus is a chronic multisystemic condition that is generally found more in women than men. Some of lupus side effects can include seizures, oral ulcers, and joint pain.
And then, there’s hair loss. Hair loss in patients dealing with lupus can often look coarse and dry, particularly in the frontal hairline. There are two types of lupus hair loss: lupus-specific and lupus non-specific. The first one includes discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), and it shows signs of irregular skin pigmentation, plaques, and scaly papules. The second one, on the other hand, includes alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and anagen effluvium.
Thyroid disorders have the highest frequency of association with alopecia areata hair loss, among all autoimmune diseases. This of course makes sense seeing as thyroid hormones are fundamental for the growth of hair follicles and maintain strands of hair.
Hashimoto’s disease is the most common form of hypothyroidism, part of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. Data has shown that around 5% of alopecia areata patients have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, also- and then roughly 9% have some kind of thyroid dysfunction.
If you are suffering from this medical condition, you should know that there are antithyroid antibodies attacking your thyroid tissue, and with this happening there will be some side effects. The side effects can include dry skin, weight gain, fatigue, and myxedema- which is an edema-like skin condition.
Hashimoto's disease can also cause slow hair growth and dry and brittle hair texture. Furthermore, partial or diffuse alopecia can be very noticeable.
You might have heard of psoriasis when it shot to extreme fame when Kim Kardashian was diagnosed with it. Well, psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition and while yes, it can have an impact on different parts of the body, scalp psoriasis can cause hair loss.
The root cause in most cases seems to be telogen effluvium, because of trauma and inflammation. Fortunately, however, once inflammation is treated, hair regrowth is possible.
With that being said, seeing a healthcare professional right away is crucial, so the condition does not develop into something much more traumatic. Psoriasis can be a cause of secondary cicatricial alopecia, which could then progress to scarring alopecia, which, we’re very sorry to let you know, but it is permanent.
Crohn’s Disease And Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Gut disorders, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn’s disease, can cause hair loss, among many other things. Yet, there hasn’t really been much research when it comes particularly to the association between Crohn’s disease and hair loss.
IBD can be represented in many ways, but aside from the tummy troubles it causes, patients report hair loss. Per case reports, hair loss has been related to autoimmune diseases like telogen effluvium and alopecia areata, as well as drugs used commonly for IBD, like infliximab and azathioprine.
Inflammatory bowel disease can lead to nutritional deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin B12, which have been connected to hair loss, too. During a study done it was noted that out of 150 patients with IBD, 33% of them had hair loss as a symptom.
So, nope. If you are dealing with a gut disorder and feel like your hair has been thinning, it’s not part of your imagination.
Is Hair Loss From An Autoimmune Disease Treatable?
In terms of autoimmune disease hair loss, currently, there don’t exist solely FDA-approved treatments. The very best course of action would be to work with a professional for the management of the symptoms of the autoimmune condition and address the root cause.
For instance, though there are various treatments that might help in promoting hair growth in alopecia areata, they won’t be able to change the diagnosis of the disease.
One suggestion for the alopecia areata treatment is corticosteroids- either injected straight into the bald spot or applied topically. Both however are prescription-strength, as instructed by a dermatologist.
During one trial, approximately 71% of patients saw an enhancement in hair growth with the use of corticosteroids in comparison to only 7% of the control group.
In the following section, we have highlighted some of the most popular and commonly used hair loss treatments, all of which, in conjunction with the proper medications for the autoimmune disease, can help in the restoration of the crowning glory.
Yet, always make sure to seek medical advice from a healthcare practitioner or dermatologist to establish the right plan to adhere to, for your specific needs.
- Finasteride. This is a pill taken once every day and it aids in targeting DHT or dihydrotestosterone, the one hormone that causes male pattern baldness.
- Topical finasteride & minoxidil spray. This is a very quick drying spray whose formula is a combination of the best powers of two efficacious hair growth ingredients, finasteride, and minoxidil, to assist in kickstarting hair growth.
- Minoxidil foam. Sold generally under the brand name Rogaine, minoxidil is commonly the initial line of defense for male pattern baldness and thinning hair. As per one study, people experiencing alopecia areata showed indications of hair growth by 38% and 81% when treated, respectively, with 1% and 5% formulations of topical minoxidil.
Coping With Autoimmune Disease Hair Loss
Despite the reversing or completely stopping of hair loss due to autoimmune diseases not being possible, there are several ways to help you cope with such issues.
People suffering from hair loss as a result of autoimmune disorders oftentimes feel lonely or isolated. To have a sense of belonging and community there might be the attendance of support groups or the connection with other individuals that struggle with the same disease and related hair loss. Doesn’t matter if it is in an individual therapist, an online forum, or a group setting, any type of support from people who comprehend your situation is more often than not, helpful.
Hair Loss Strategies And Tips
Starting with the consumption of a healthy diet and ending with the disguising of hair loss in creative ways, there are several ways to gain confidence in the face of hair loss.
The consumption of a nutritious diet, the management of stress in your life, adequate sleep every night, and the reduction of exposure to environmental toxins can improve general health and it might aid in controlling the degree of hair loss.
Many professionals recommend employing mild shampoos and taking supplements including Biotin, although there is little to no scientific evidence that backs up the effect of vitamins to regrow hair.
Make sure to ask your hairdresser for advice. She or he can find ways to make your hair look much thicker by feathering it or cutting it in layers. Whenever you are blow drying, lifting your hair up and away from the head will help, too. Ultimately, you can always dye your hair to cover up bare scalp areas.
For people who have healthy hair and only experience missing patches, hair toppers are an amazing solution. Hairpieces or hair extensions come in a wide range of styles and sizes in order to cover up thinning hair on different areas of the scalp.
If hair loss has affected your eyelashes or eyebrows, then eyebrow wigs, makeup, stencils, and false eyelashes, would be optimal solutions.
Gorgeous wigs of high quality are an outstanding way of covering hair loss and not letting anyone know of your condition. Wigs, fortunately, have the extra advantage of making the morning routine easier and will save you money on cuts, coloring, or hairstyling.
When it comes to bandanas, scarves, headbands, or hats, that can be used to disguise thinning hair, the sky's the limit. Extra wide headbands can be a great solution if you are experiencing thinning at the front hairline or temples, so you can cover up those thin areas. Not only is headwear an optimal solution for hair loss, but it can also be an amazing fashionable addition to your wardrobe.
For more extreme and permanent hair loss, cosmetic surgery alternatives include a hair transplant which entails transplanting hair from another area of the scalp or stretching the remaining hair to cover up what has been lost. Such approaches are not however adaptable for all autoimmune-related hair loss. Furthermore, they can be quite expensive and time-consuming.
Autoimmune Diseases And Hair Loss: What To Do Next
We are well aware that handling health issues isn’t all that easy. If you are noticing tell-tale indications of thinning hair, consulting a professional must be your first priority- especially if you do not know of having an autoimmune disease.
No matter if you are suffering from gut issues or thyroid disorders, seeking medical advice from a doctor is the absolute best course of action. While some articles online (ahem, this one) can be legit and based on research, many aren’t all that much. So getting a diagnosis from a medical professional is crucial.
With the appropriate lifestyle alterations and medications, the management of the condition can be possible. Below is how to figure out the proper steps for hair loss treatment, alongside your autoimmune disease.
- Fast reaction. If you are observing new signs like bald patches or fatigue, make note of them and do not let the issue linger any longer. Your best bet for a successful treatment is getting your health in order quickly.
- Have a discussion with a medical professional. They have the ability to run any required laboratory tests and exams in order to provide you with the right diagnosis and the proper medications that go along with it.
- Take into account a science-backed hair loss treatment that you can use alongside medication. The healthcare provider or dermatologist can offer you treatment options that do not have any possible interactions or side effects that you should be aware of.
If you are feeling ready for a hair consultation, we got you. Set up an appointment with our team at Advanced Hair Clinic, easily and without the need to wait in line.