Medications & Hair Loss

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Mar 13

Medications causing hair lossWhile many believe that heredity is to blame when it comes to hair loss, there are many extraneous factors that can cause or exacerbate hair loss. For instance, many medications currently available on the U.S. market have been linked to hair loss in both men and women. Even hormonal fluctuations and pregnancy have been connected to hair loss in women.

Furthermore, several antidepressants have been linked to hair loss in men and women. As a result, you should speak to your doctor if you plan on taking antidepressants over a long period of time, as long term use of antidepressant drugs can cause thinning of hair in patients.

In addition, steroids and birth control pills, both which cause marked changes in hormonal balances in the body, have also been linked to hair loss in some people. However, there are also many ingredients in more commonly used medications, including those that are considered rather innocuous to most, which can trigger hair loss.

Common medications contributing to hair loss

Below, is just a brief nomenclature of substances that studies have linked to hair loss-either in short term use or through prolonged periods of ingestion:

  • Bismuth, arsenic, boric acid, carbon monoxide, and clomiphene citrate.
  • Coumarin anticoagulant, cyproterone acetate, danazol, fenifibrate, and heparin.
  • Ibuprofen, iodine, interferon, levodopa, and mercury.
  • Isophosphamide, lithium, mesalazine, mitomycine, and morphine.
  • Nicotinic acid, nitrofurantoin sodium, nicotinyl alcohol, and potassium thiocyanate.
  • Propanolol, tamoxifen, vasopressin, troxidone, and vitamin A.

As can be seen, some of these ingredients can be found in medications commonly used to treat indigestion, nausea, and diarrhoea, such as Pepto Bismol, while Ibuprofen is commonly used to treat pain and/or fever. Arsenic is a common ingredient in cigarettes, while mercury can be found in a myriad of sea foods. What’s more, even many heart medications can cause hair loss, and foods high in iodine; including, but not limited to, organic cheese and yogurts, cranberries, and organic potatoes, may cause hair loss in extreme cases.

Always seek expert advice

Please note, however, that if you feel that the medication you are taking may be the cause of hair loss, then DO NOT stop taking it immediately. Side effects are common with many drugs, and can be treated either by supplementing current medications with other drugs, reducing or increasing the dosage of medications being taken, or by substituting medications with other drugs that have similar benefits with fewer side effects.

Medications are not the only cause

It is important to note that while there are hundreds of medications that may cause hair loss, hair loss is not necessarily caused by the medications people take. For instance, if you notice hair loss that forms in a pattern most commonly found in men who suffer from androgenic alopecia better known as male pattern baldness then the hair loss is likely due to heredity /genetic factors instead of environmental factors.

Male Pattern Baldness

Some signs that your hair loss is due to male pattern baldness include scattered thinning across the center and front of the scalp, horseshoe receding of hair, as well as bald spots found on the back of the head. In sum, if you are concerned about hair loss, speak to your local pharmacist about the medications you are taking. They can print out a list of reported side effects that are associated with the medications you are taking, as well as possible drug interactions that may trigger comorbid medical conditions.
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