Can Steroids Cause Hair Loss?

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 steroid hair loss, let’s find out what steroids actually are and what exactly they do.

What Is A Steroid?

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.

What Are The Different 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. They are available in different forms such as:

  • Inhalers
  • Cream
  • Tablets
  • Liquid
  • Nasal spray
  • IV

However, it is also a reason why steroids make the body more vulnerable to infections. The body’s immune system is suppressed since it stops the inflammatory response of the immune system.

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.

Anabolic Steroids

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 to improve their performance and body build. 

Man in gym

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. 

What Are Steroids Used For?

Steroids – which, in medicine, are mainly used to refer to corticosteroids – are used for the treatment of many inflammatory diseases because they can help reduce inflammation.

Additionally, they are also used for many autoimmune diseases as well because corticosteroids can help suppress the immune system. Following are some of the conditions that use corticosteroids in their treatments:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Gout
  • Lupus
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Scleroderma
  • Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
  • Allergies
  • Vitiligo
  • Eczema
  • Licen planus
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Addison’s disease
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy

Of course, there are many more illnesses that use corticosteroids for treatment. And as for anabolic steroids, even though their abuses and illegal uses have become more popular, they are also used for the treatment of different health conditions, such as:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Primary hypogonadism
  • Delayed puberty
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Anaemia
  • Kidney failure

What Are The Side Effects Of Steroids?

Some of the side effects of steroids (corticosteroids) are as follows:

  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Stomach problems
  • Atrophy
  • Infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in mood
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Slow wound healing

Keep in mind that if you’re taking the drug orally, you might be more likely to experience the side effects of corticosteroids. Moreover, high doses and long treatment duration can also increase your risk of side effects.

With anabolic steroids, on the other hand, you should know that they can be addictive and cause a range of side effects, such as:

  • Baldness in men and women
  • Increased facial/body hair in women
  • Breast growth in men and loss of breasts in women
  • Low sperm count
  • Shrunk testicles
  • Acne
  • High blood pressure
  • Menstruation issues
  • Liver, kidney, and heart problems

What Do Steroids Do To Your Body?

There are different things that steroids can do to your body:

  1. Reduce inflammation – Corticosteroid is made to resemble cortisol, an anti-inflammatory steroid hormone that’s naturally produced by the adrenal glands sitting on top of the kidneys. That way, this drug can help with the symptoms of inflammatory conditions.
  2. Reduce immune system activity – Corticosteroids can suppress the immune system by affecting the white blood cells and cytokines (small proteins that help in immune regulation)
  3. Increase muscle mass – This is something that anabolic steroids can do to your body. They can help with the growth of muscle mass and increase their strength, which is why there have been many reports of its abuses.

How Long Do Steroids Take To Work?

The answer to “How long does it take for steroids to work” depends on the kind of steroids you’re taking and their form.

Prednisone, which is a type of corticosteroid, can take a couple of hours to work. But if you’re taking a delayed-release version, you might start to feel its effects after 4 hours.

On the other hand, if you’re taking steroid injections, it might be a few days to a few weeks before you can feel the drug working. And if you’re using a topical corticosteroid, then too, you might have to wait for a few days.

But if you’re taking anabolic steroids, it can take much longer for you to notice a change. It might take 1-3 months.

Which Steroids Cause Hair Loss?

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. 

male pattern baldness

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. 

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.

Do Steroids Cause Hair Loss In Women?

The use of anabolic steroids can cause pattern hair loss in women, according to MedlinePlus. While at the same time, they can also experience hair growth on their face and body. High levels of testosterone in the body can cause this type of hair loss in women as well.

Hair transplant for female pattern hair loss

Medline specifies that females can experience “male pattern baldness,” so it’s possible that the hair loss progresses in a distinct pattern where the temple peaks and the hairline recedes along with hair loss at the crown region. Therefore, anabolic steroids and hair loss are not exclusive to men.

Steroids and Hair Loss: Will It Grow Back? 

Steroids’ hair loss can be permanent. Continued, long-term use of anabolic steroids can cause irreversible alopecia. 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: 

  • Anadrol 
  • Winstrol 
  • Dianabol
  • Anavar 
  • Primobolan
  • Proviron
  • Trenbolone

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 published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that corticosteroids caused hair growth in alopecia areata patients.

Keep in mind that these steroid injections for hair loss 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 talk to your doctor to change your treatment plan (if possible).

Still, keep in mind you might end up losing your hair even after using steroids for hair growth. 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 not stimulate hair growth if a person’s losing hair due to traction alopecia.

Those who are 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.

How To Prevent Steroid Hair Loss?

It might not always be possible to prevent hair loss due to steroids. For instance, prednisone is a corticosteroid which is used for the treatment of different illnesses, and it may cause thinning of the scalp hair (it’s been listed by the Food and Drug Administration – FDA).

But with some other types of steroids, which you might be missing without a prescription, you can prevent experiencing hair loss by not using them in the first place. But if you’re already taking anabolic steroids, make sure to consult a doctor before stopping them because they can serious withdrawal symptoms.

Other than that, if you’re experiencing hair loss while on any type of steroid, make sure to talk to your doctor about it. They may make changes to your treatment plan for it.

Concluding Remarks

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. 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 in Turkey (or its variants Sapphire and DHI hair transplant in Turkey). 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 Trichologist Yaprak Yazan


Do steroids make you gain weight?

Increased appetite is one of the side effects of steroids and that can lead to weight gain. Fluid retention and swelling might also make it look like you’ve gained weight.

Are steroids addictive?

Anabolic steroids can be addictive, and even with the side effects they can cause, you might want to continue taking them.

Do steroids make you hungry?

Steroids can cause changes to your metabolism and make you crave more food.

Does steroids make you sweat?

Excessive sweating can be a side effect of steroids. You might even end up having hot flashes because of it.

How to take steroids?

Steroids are available in many different forms. You can take them orally, through injections, sprays, creams, or IV.

Can skin recover from steroid cream?

Prolonged use of steroids can cause permanent damage to the skin. You can develop irreversible stretch marks or other problems like skin atrophy.

Is hair loss from steroids permanent?

Steroid hair loss can be permanent since it’s associated with pattern baldness in which the hair follicles miniaturise or shrink permanently.

Is creatine a steroid?

Creatine is an amino acid. It’s not a type of anabolic steroid, which is what many believe it to be.

How do steroids work?

Steroids work by reducing inflammation, suppressing immune activity, or increasing muscle mass. It depends on the type of steroid.

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