You may be unknowingly losing your hair without even understanding why it’s happening. There are a lot of things that need to go smoothly for the body to continue growing hair normally.
If you’re taking any medications, it can interfere with the hair growth cycle. Not every medication has the same effect, but some do. Hair loss is something that many people experience when on steroid therapy.
Having to stop taking medicines is not always a choice. Sometimes, the condition from which a person is suffering can threaten their life and even cause their death. In those instances, the patient has to continue taking the medicine despite experiencing the side effects.
Steroids are anti-inflammatory, so they’re used for treating many illnesses, such as arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, eczema, asthma, etc. To understand hair loss due to steroids, let’s find out what steroids actually are and what exactly do they do.
What Are Steroids?
Steroids are chemical compounds that are naturally produced by the body. They also have lab-made versions, which mimic the action of naturally-produced steroid hormones in the body.
The purpose of steroids is to reduce inflammation, along with the swelling, pain and redness that accompanies it. They can be used in different forms such as a cream, lotion, gel, liquid, tablet, spray, inhaler, nasal sprays, injection, and syrup.
You only have to take steroids for a short period. They help treat flare-ups within a few days. Usually, steroids that are taken for a short time and in a low dose don’t cause many side effects.
However, it can cause some sleeping disturbances, mood swings, weight gain, muscle weakness, acne, and skin thinning. Depending on the form of steroid you’re using, its side effects can vary.
Types of Steroids
There are two different types of steroids.
Corticosteroids are lab-made chemicals that mimic the action of the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the body’s adrenal glands. They are used for fighting inflammation. Moreover, they reduce the activity of the immune system, which is why steroids are taken for autoimmune disorders.
However, it is also a reason why steroids make the body more vulnerable to infections. The body’s immune system is suppressed since they stop the inflammatory response of the immune system. Corticosteroids are available in different forms such as inhalers, cream, tablets, liquid, nasal spray, and IV.
A few side effects of corticosteroids include acne, mood swings, abnormal hair growth, an increase in blood sugar and blood pressure, weight gain, and nausea.
These are the lab-made hormones that are used by athletes for muscle building. This attribute of anabolic steroids has led to widespread abuse of the drug. Many people take more than the prescribed dosage of these hormones for improving their performance and body build.
These are lab versions of testosterone. It is prescribed to those people who have low levels of testosterone in the body. In addition, anabolic steroids are given to patients with AIDS to help them build muscle mass. It is dangerous to abuse the intake of these steroids.
In females, the hormone can lead to the development of abnormal hair growth, deepening of the voice, baldness, and irregular menses. It can also cause extreme mood swings and aggression.
It is important that before taking any steroids, you discuss your medical history with your doctor. Steroids can worsen certain medical conditions such as diabetes (and diabetes hair loss is a separate thing). And it is also these that usually cause hair loss.
Do Steroids Cause Hair Loss?
Steroids are used to treat many conditions. However, sometimes, as a side effect, it can cause hair loss. More specifically, we’re talking about anabolic steroids here.
Testosterones are to blame for androgenetic alopecia. And since anabolic steroids have similar effects to testosterone, they can increase hair loss. In actuality, DHT, a by-product of testosterone, acts on the hair follicles on the scalp and causes baldness.
Here too, testosterone leads to an increase in the levels of DHT, which causes hair loss. It is a reason why those women who take anabolic steroids might also experience baldness while, usually even with pattern baldness, women do not completely go bald.
It doesn’t always have to be anabolic steroids, though. Steroids can imbalance the sex hormones in the body quite easily, which can also result in hair loss.
Steroids and Hair Loss: Will It Grow Back?
Continued, long-term use of anabolic steroids can cause permanent hair loss. If you’re experiencing hair loss due to steroids, you should stop taking medicines after a discussion with your doctor. If you continue the intake of steroids, you may end up losing your hair permanently.
It is also true that the intake of steroids can speed up the hair loss that occurs in androgenetic alopecia. So, you might eventually permanently lose your hair sooner rather than later as a result of steroids.
If someone’s genetically predisposed to pattern baldness, the steroids can cause excessive hair shedding by increasing the levels of DHT in the body.
Your hair can start growing back again, in some cases immediately, after you stop taking steroids. There are other instances in which hair loss from steroids continues. Regardless, if you’re experiencing hair loss while taking steroids, make sure to inform the doctor before it’s too late.
Some of the worst steroids for hair loss include:
Many people also ask, “what steroids do not cause hair loss?” Deca Durabolin should not cause as much hair loss (still, do not use it without consulting your doctor). You can have excessive hair loss if you use it with finasteride.
Are There Steroid Injections For Hair Loss?
Depending on the kind of steroid you’re dealing with, you can end up gaining or losing your hair. On the one hand, anabolic steroids can cause hair loss and speed up hair loss in people with androgenetic alopecia, and on the other, corticosteroids are used for the treatment of alopecia areata.
Triamcinolone acetonide is a lab-made corticosteroid, which is usually used in steroid therapy against hair loss.
One study conducted on patients with alopecia areata treated with corticosteroids showed hair growth as a result of the steroid. Keep in mind that these steroid injections may not permanently rid you of alopecia areata (since it’s an autoimmune condition).
Steroids work by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation. This, in turn, stops the body’s immune system from attacking healthy hair follicles.
One review published in Cureus also reported that telogen effluvium due to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) could be treated with corticosteroids. Lupus hair loss can also be a side effect of its medication. So, if this happens, you can take to your doctor to change your treatment plan (if possible).
Still, keep in mind you might end up losing your hair even after growing it with the help of steroid injections. In some cases, the hair grows back only to fall again, while in others, the treatment doesn’t work at all.
Can Steroid Injections Treat All Types of Hair Loss?
Steroid injections cannot treat androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness) since it is genetic. Moreover, it can also n0t stimulate hair growth if a person’s losing hair due to traction alopecia.
Those who’re suffering from hair loss should look into different treatment options. With steroids, things can be a bit tricky. With anabolic steroids, you can end up experiencing hair loss, regardless of your sex. Its abuse can also impact the normal functioning, development and growth of the body.
Can You Have Hair Transplant For Hair Loss Due To Steroids?
Steroids and hair transplants should not be done together. After having a hair transplant, our surgeons will advise you to stop taking steroids because they act like your body’s natural hormones, which can affect the newly transplanted grafts.
Not only can you lose your transplanted hair, but it can also cause hormonal hair loss, which can affect the entire scalp.
In males, the intake of anabolic steroids stops the production of testosterone by the body. This results in infertility, low sperm count, hair loss, and a lot of other problems.
While in females, these steroids can lead to the growth of coarse hair, facial hair, deepening of the voice, and even hair loss, which can be permanent.
On the other hand, sometimes, doctors recommend steroid therapy for treating some types of alopecia. So, steroids don’t always cause hair loss. For this, corticosteroids are used instead of anabolic steroids. These hormones affect the body in a similar way to the hormone cortisol.
If you’re dealing with permanent hair loss that is male or female pattern baldness, steroid therapy will not work for you. The intake of anabolic steroids can even make you lose your hair earlier. Therefore, you should look into some other treatment options, such as a hair transplant. It will permanently restore your hair.
Some people permanently lose their hair due to prolonged steroid use. You can consult with our professionals to find out if a hair transplant is possible for you. We’ll look into your case and provide you with a treatment plan accordingly. Just make a booking for your free consultation session.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.