Myasthenia gravis – a chronic, autoimmune condition that causes muscle weakness – has been associated with different types of hair loss.
More commonly, this hair loss is a result of other autoimmune conditions. However, it can also be a result of the medication used for treating myasthenia gravis.
In light of how challenging this condition can be, losing your hair can feel as if you’ve lost yet another part of yourself. Its cosmetic impact can be quite devastating as well.
However, with treatment, it might be possible for you to grow your hair back. In this guide, you’ll learn more about myasthenia gravis hair loss and what you can do about it.
Does Myasthenia Gravis Cause Hair Loss?
Myasthenia gravis can indirectly affect the hair follicles on your skin because of coexisting illnesses, as a side effect of drugs and/or stress.
In myasthenia gravis, it’s actually the communication between your muscles and nerves that’s affected. The antibodies produced by your immune system end up affecting certain receptors at the point where nerves meet your muscle fibres.
As a result, the message from your nervous system doesn’t reach the muscles. And so, your muscles can’t contract. It makes the muscles weak and fatigued.
Now, you should know that there are about 600 muscles in the body, and this condition “can affect most parts of the body,” according to the NHS. So, it can cause a range of problems, such as:
- Droopy eyelids
- Double vision
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal voice and slurred speech
- Difficulty making facial expressions
Physical activity may even worsen the symptoms of your condition. On the other hand, of course, rest helps.
It doesn’t just affect physical health, though. Research shows that the risk of depression and anxiety is higher in people with myasthenia gravis. Even that can cause hair loss.
What Causes Myasthenia Gravis Hair Loss?
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways in which hair loss can occur with myasthenia gravis.
Side Effect Of Treatment
Different medications are used for managing the symptoms of myasthenia gravis, such as:
- Cholinesterase inhibitor (Pyridostigmine)
Pyridostigmine is the most commonly used drug for myasthenia gravis. But in 1980, there was one case report of toxic alopecia from the intake of pyridostigmine bromide (Mestinon).
It is however just one case report. And the patient was also able to grow her hair back, even though the alopecia was diffuse and “extensive.”
Mainly, though, it’s the immunosuppressants that have the most potential to cause hair loss. For instance, the following immunosuppressive medication for myasthenia gravis can cause hair loss:
With this class of medication, you also have to keep in mind that they can risk the infection and even cause anaemia. Both of these can also cause hair loss.
Other than that, monoclonal antibodies are also used for treatment of myasthenia gravis in certain cases. Some of these can also cause hair loss.
Other Autoimmune Illness
As an autoimmune illness, myasthenia gravis also has a tendency to coexist with other autoimmune illnesses.
According to research published in the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, autoimmune thyroid disease is most commonly associated with myasthenia gravis. But it can also occur with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and pernicious anaemia.
There are reports of Sjögren’s syndrome co-occurring with myasthenia gravis as well. Moreover, myasthenia gravis hair loss can occur due to another autoimmune condition known as alopecia areata. There are many case reports of it.
As mentioned earlier, myasthenia gravis can make life very difficult.
According to a study published in Frontiers in Neurology, “lack of employment or decrease in income” is one of the factors that affects the quality of life in myasthenia gravis patients. The financial impact of this condition can be especially hard to deal with.
Depression and anxiety are common as well. And all these factors can lead to or contribute to your hair loss.
How To Stop Myasthenia Gravis Hair Loss?
The treatment for your hair loss due to myasthenia gravis will depend on why you’re losing hair in the first place.
If it’s drug-induced alopecia, your doctor might consider making changes to your treatment plan. Or if it’s alopecia areata, you might be given steroids to regrow your hair.
You should also look out for ways to manage stress. Exercise is one way you can do that.
Another thing that you can consider doing is taking breaks. Overloading yourself won’t help, so to recharge, make sure you rest.
Meditation and yoga can also help you manage stress. But you should also consider talking to a mental health professional.
Is Myasthenia Gravis Hair Loss Reversible?
Myasthenia gravis hair loss can be reversible.
Drug-induced alopecia is usually reversible. And so is telogen effluvium hair loss from stress. Even though alopecia areata cannot be cured, it can also be reversed. So you can grow your hair back.
But it’s also possible for some types of hair loss to be permanent. For instance, if you stress-pluck your hair for a long time (trichotillomania), the inflammation can cause permanent hair loss.
Myasthenia gravis is a life-long condition that cannot be cured. But its symptoms can be managed through different therapies and medication.
One consequence of that can be hair loss. But hair loss in this condition can also occur due to a coexisting condition or just the stress of the disease itself.
But if you’re experiencing hair loss, it’s important that you first consult a medical professional. Do not discontinue any medication without talking to your doctor.
Hair loss can occur due to many different reasons. Without any accurate diagnosis, you should not start any “treatment”.
Reviewed and Approved by Trichologist Yaprak Yazan