Fibromyalgia Hair Loss

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness in the body. Among other problems, it can commonly cause hair loss in its sufferers.

Even though it can cause significant mental distress, it is often overlooked. In addition, there isn’t much research on why and how this condition causes hair loss.

Fibromyalgia itself is a mystery. It’s not exactly known what causes this condition. More popularly, disturbances in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) have been held responsible. However, recent research points towards an autoimmune illness. 

Likewise, there is little information about the loss of hair caused by this condition. However, based on the information available, there are a few possible causes. In this guide, you’ll learn about them and find out what you can do about fibromyalgia hair loss

Does Fibromyalgia Cause Hair Loss?

Fibromyalgia can cause hair loss. And it may occur due to stress (physical and/or emotional), nutritional deficiencies, side effect of medications, and other coexisting illnesses.

Of course, hair loss isn’t the only symptom of fibromyalgia. It also causes: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Difficulty paying attention and concentrating (fibro fog) 
  • Pain (burning, stabbing) 
  • Extreme sensitivity to pain (allodynia) 
  • Stiffness
  • Sleep issues
  • Headaches 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
Body pain

This list is not exhaustive. But here, it should be noted that even the symptoms of this condition can contribute to hair loss. 

For instance, anxiety can trigger a type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. And it can push the majority of the hair from the active growing phase to the resting phase. It can result in excessive shedding 2-3 months after the stressful event. 

Not just that but anxiety can also cause hair loss through trichotillomania – a hair-pulling disorder – and alopecia areata (which can be triggered by stress). 

Telogen effluvium, in particular, is believed to be the most common cause of hair loss in fibromyalgia. That’s because emotional stress or a flare-up (physical stress) is when it usually results in hair loss. 

But again, because there’s not a lot of scientific research on this hair loss (and the condition itself). So, it’s hard to say what actually causes/leads to hair loss. 

It is also important to keep in mind that fibromyalgia can make the upkeep of hair quite difficult. Shampooing can become difficult because of the pain, and so can the brushing of hair, among other things. 

What Causes Fibromyalgia Hair Loss? 

Let’s discuss the different causes of fibromyalgia in more detail: 

Stress

Stress may be one of the main reasons why fibromyalgia causes hair loss. The condition itself causes depression and anxiety. However, emotional and physical stress may also act as potential triggers of this condition.

As a result, it can create a vicious cycle, which can cause excessive diffuse hair loss if you develop telogen effluvium

Keep in mind that some of the other triggers for this condition, such as an infection, may also cause hair loss. 

So, we can’t always say that fibromyalgia causes hair loss. That’s because it may be caused by something that triggered fibromyalgia in the first place. 

Nutritional Deficiency

Fibromyalgia may also lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can also, in turn, cause hair loss. 

For instance, it’s been associated with vitamin B12, D, and iron deficiency. And all these nutrients are important for hair growth. 

Vitamin B12 plays a role in the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and magnesium and makes keratin protein. Moreover, without enough iron, your hair follicles won’t get enough oxygen. 

So, these factors can also cause or worsen your hair loss. 

Side Effect of Medication 

According to Mayo Clinic, the following types of drugs are used in the treatment of fibromyalgia: 

  1. Pain relievers 
  2. Antidepressants
  3. Anti-seizure medications 

Hair loss can occur as a side effect of some of these medications. 

Medication

For instance, duloxetine (Cymbalta) – an antidepressant – can very rarely cause hair loss. Similarly, some evidence also suggests that gabapentin – an anti-seizure drug – can cause hair loss. 

Other Illnesses

Quite often, fibromyalgia tends to occur with other illnesses, such as: 

This is not an entire list of the conditions that occur with fibromyalgia. However, the ones mentioned here can cause hair loss directly or indirectly. 

For instance, ankylosing spondylitis can cause indirect hair loss as a side effect of its medications. However, lupus lesions can cause direct hair loss by damaging the follicles. 

How To Treat Hair Loss From Fibromyalgia?

With the management of fibromyalgia symptoms, hair loss caused by this condition may be managed. While this condition cannot be cured, therapy and medication can help with pain and its related problems. 

The FDA has approved three medications for the treatment of this condition: Cymbalta, Savella and Lyrica. But there are others that are prescribed as well. 

Other than that, therapies are also considered important to reduce stress and other problems, such as: 

  • Meditation
  • Yoga 
  • Massage
  • Deep breathing 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Counselling 
Exercise

Your doctor will likely advise you to make lifestyle changes as well, such as doing exercise, eating healthy foods, and getting good sleep.  

Is Fibromyalgia Hair Loss Reversible? 

Fibromyalgia hair loss is likely to be reversible since it doesn’t involve the destruction of the hair follicles. 

It’s mainly caused by telogen effluvium, and that type of hair loss is usually reversible. Nutritional deficiency hair loss can also resolve once your nutritional intake has improved. 

Drug-induced alopecia is also usually reversible, and your hair should start to regrow once the drug is discontinued (don’t do it without your doctor’s consultation). 

However, it can take some time (months) for your hair to grow back. 

Conclusion 

Since pain is such a major symptom of fibromyalgia, it’s easy to dismiss any hair loss concerns. However, hair loss is not just a cosmetic problem. It can affect the mental health of a person as well. 

Fibromyalgia hair loss can be very stressful, but fortunately, it’s usually reversible. Medications and therapies can help you manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia itself. And that can also help with hair loss. 

Still, if you’re experiencing abnormal hair loss, you should get in touch with a doctor. Hair loss can occur due to many different factors. Without a diagnosis, starting treatment is unlikely to help. 

Reviewed and Approved by Trichologist Yaprak Yazan

FAQ

How common is hair loss with fibromyalgia?

To our knowledge, there’s no scientific research on the incidence rate of fibromyalgia hair loss. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that it’s fairly common.

Is hair loss a symptom of fibromyalgia?

Hair loss is considered a symptom of fibromyalgia. However, your doctor will perform other checks to arrive at a final diagnosis.

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