Thyroid disease related hair loss is a fairly common response in the body when hormone levels are not in balance. Frequently, it is the first symptom people notice and commonly leads them to see a doctor for an evaluation. Luckily blood tests can determine if thyroid disease might be the cause of the hair loss, however controlling and regrowing your hair might not be so straight forward.
Hypothyroidism can cause hair to become dry, brittle and coarse. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can both cause temporary hair loss due to hormonal stress. Altered levels of thyroid hormones affect the body’s use of energy. To preserve energy, more hair enters the telogen (shedding) phase of the hair cycle leading to increased hair loss. In theory, as hormones are stabilized with medication or treatments, hair should return to a normal balance but it can take some time for the hair to regrow.
1. If taking thyroid medication for hypothyroidism- Treatment with levothyroxine (Synthyroid) alone can cause excess or prolonged hair loss, which is a less known side effect of that medication. Even if you have been taking a thyroid medication for a while, your TSH levels might not be right for you. Talk to your endocrinologist about whether further testing of T4, T3 and antibody levels should be done.
2. Combination hair loss: Once medication type and doses are stabilized, if hair loss still doesn’t return other forms of hair loss should be explored. Androgenetic alopecia: male patterned balding, telogen effluvium: temporary hair loss from other body stress (see my article on “Stress and Hair Loss”) or alopecia areata: circular patches of hair loss could be culprits. A dermatologist can best evaluate theses other types of hair loss.
3. Nutritional deficits- In a recent study of women with thinning hair, Dr Hugh Rushton, of the University of Portsmouth found that 90% had low iron levels. Low levels of the amino acid lysine, which helps transport of iron, is also thought to contribute to hair loss. Eating a good diet, taking a balanced multivitamin and getting baseline lab work should be done before launching into trying other supplements.