Hashimoto Hair Loss

Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid gland – can cause patchy or diffuse hair loss, depending on the underlying cause

It’s one of the many symptoms of the condition. However, as Hashimoto hair loss develops quite slowly, taking months or even years to become apparent, you might not notice the hair loss right away.

And you should also know that there are different ways in which this thyroid dysfunction causes hair loss. It could be due to hormonal imbalance, stress, nutritional deficiency or even other autoimmune illnesses. 

Fortunately, it’s possible to reverse hair loss caused by Hashimoto’s. Depending on the problem, different treatment options may be explored. In this guide, you’ll find out what you can do for Hashimoto’s hair loss. 

Can Hashimoto’s Cause Hair Loss?

In Hashimoto’s, your immune system will attack and destroy the healthy thyroid cells. And usually, this leads to an underproduction of the thyroid hormone resulting in a condition known as hypothyroidism. 

It’s important to understand that thyroid hormones directly affect the hair follicles. Different studies show the impact of thyroid hormones on the function of hair follicles, hair growth, and even the stem cells in hair follicles. Therefore, their optimal presence is important for normal hair growth. 

But Hashimoto disturbs that balance because the damaged thyroid is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. It’s not exactly understood why that happens, but the following are believed to be responsible: 

  • Genetics 
  • Hormones (more common in middle-aged women)
  • Too much iodine 
  • Radiation exposure  

And, of course, Hashimoto’s doesn’t only cause hair loss. Thyroid hormones play an important role in the metabolism, growth and development of the body, so their low levels will affect many other functions.

Hashimoto's symptoms
Hashimoto’s progresses very slowly (it can take years), so you might not have any symptoms at first.

While this condition cannot be cured, it can be very well managed with hormone replacement therapy. 

What Causes Hashimoto Hair Loss? 

Reduced thyroid function, nutritional deficiency, and associated autoimmune conditions can cause hair loss in Hashimoto’s disease. At any given time, you may experience more than one type of hair loss.

Reduced Thyroid Function 

The low levels of thyroid hormone will directly affect the growth of the hair follicles. Therefore, the hormonal imbalance caused by the underactive thyroid can also shock the body and result in what’s known as telogen effluvium

It’s a type of diffuse hair loss that pushes most of the hair into the resting telogen phase of the hair growth cycle. As a result, excessive shedding can occur 2-3 months after the event (like hormone imbalance) that triggered it. 

Nutritional Deficiency 

Different studies have reported nutritional deficiencies of vitamins and minerals (iron, zinc, selenium) in patients with Hashimoto’s. 

Research published in Thyroid found that vitamin D levels were lower in Hashimoto’s patients compared to healthy individuals. It may be because vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the immune function. 

It’s not just Hashimoto’s. Low vitamin D levels have also been linked to other autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. 

But as far as thyroid disorders are concerned, it’s not exactly understood whether vitamin D deficiency is a consequence of the condition or something that leads to its development. 

Regardless, the deficiency of vitamin D can affect hair growth, especially since it helps in the making of the hair protein keratin. 

Other than vitamin D, however, Hashimoto’s patients also tend to have iron deficiency

According to another study published in the journal Thyroid, it can be because of autoimmune gastritis, which affects the absorption of iron and is common in Hashimoto’s patients. 

In any case, when there’s not enough iron, your hair won’t have an adequate supply of oxygen, which it needs to grow. 

Other Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmune conditions have a tendency to occur with other autoimmune conditions. With Hashimoto’s, you are at an increased risk of developing: 

  • Vitiligo
  • Lupus
  • Celiac disease
  • Addison’s 
  • Graves’ 
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 

Your hair loss may result from these conditions as well. Research shows that Hashimoto’s is also associated with alopecia areata – another autoimmune disease – that causes patchy hair loss on the scalp. 

Is Hashimoto Hair Loss Reversible?

Hashimoto’s hair loss can be reversed, provided your normal hormone levels have been restored and any nutritional deficiencies treated. However, it can take some time for your hair to grow back

diffuse hair loss

Meanwhile, it’s important for you to be gentle with your hair. Hypothyroidism can make the hair dry and thin, which can make it prone to breakage. 

How To Stop Hair Loss With Hashimoto’s Disease?

In Hashimoto’s, treating the thyroid with thyroid hormone replacement should help stop hair loss. The medication used for this is levothyroxine, which is a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. You’ll have to take this drug for life to manage the symptoms of this condition. 

But here, it’s also important to note that levothyroxine can also cause temporary hair loss. It may happen for a few months after your start treatment. But it will get better with time. 

Other than that, your doctor may also recommend making changes to your diet and lifestyle. You may be recommended to avoid foods containing gluten. 

Healthy diet

The Autoimmune Protocol diet may also help. However, you should first consult your doctor and a registered dietitian. Also, if you have a nutritional deficiency, your doctor may recommend some supplements. 

Conclusion 

Hair loss is one of the many symptoms of Hashimoto’s, which can be very distressing. While there’s no way to cure this condition, the hair loss resulting from it can be managed, especially with thyroid hormone replacement. 

Additionally, certain modifications to your diet and lifestyle can also be helpful. It can take some time for your hair to grow back, but fortunately, it is reversible. 

If you also have any symptoms of Hashimoto’s or are experiencing abnormal hair loss, make sure to consult a board-certified medical professional. 

Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Cagla Yuksel.

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