Can Medications Cause Hair Loss
04 / 10 / 23

Can Medications Cause Hair Loss

Medications are widely used to successfully treat a variety of illnesses and diseases. However, certain drugs also have unwanted side effects, such as hair loss. Hair loss of any kind, including medication-induced, understandably can have a negative impact on your self-esteem. This is your guide to how medications cause hair loss and what you can do to regain your full head of hair more quickly.

Why Does Medication Cause Hair Loss?

Medications can interfere with the normal hair growth cycle, resulting in hair loss. There are 4 stages to the hair growth cycle:

  • Anagen – growing phase
  • Catagen – transition phase
  • Telogen – resting phase
  • Exogen – shedding phase

Depending on the type of hair loss you have, either the telogen or anagen phases are disrupted.

Medications Lead to Two Types of Hair Loss

Medication use can lead to two types of hair loss:

  • Telogen effluvium
  • Anagen effluvium

In both types of conditions, the severity of hair loss depends on the dosage and length of time the medication is taken. Typically, the higher the dosage and longer the treatment, the more severe the hair loss.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is the most common type of hair loss resulting from medication use. This type of hair loss typically occurs within 4 months after beginning a prescription drug. As its name suggests, the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle is disrupted. This type of hair loss condition causes the hair follicles to enter the telogen or resting phase prematurely, and therefore, they also fall out early.
People who experience telogen effluvium lose an average of 40% more hair than what is considered normal (about 100 – 150 hairs per day).

Anagen Effluvium

The second type of hair loss that can occur due to prescription drug use is anagen effluvium. Certain medications disrupt the anagen stage of the hair growth cycle. During this stage, the hairs are actively growing, and the matrix cells responsible for producing new hairs divide. However, in those experiencing anagen effluvium, the matrix cells cannot divide as they should. This results in hair loss and, in some cases, complete balding.

Anagen effluvium occurs within a few days to a few weeks of beginning a medication and is the more severe of the two types of drug-induced hair loss. It is very common in those receiving chemotherapy treatment.

Is Medication-Induced Hair Loss Permanent

In most cases, hair loss is temporary. Normal hair growth typically resumes after medication use stops. However, this is not a guaranteed result for every person as dosage, prescription longevity, and the person's sensitivity play a part in if and how fast hair grows back.

Common Types of Medications That Cause Hair Loss

Below are the most common types of medications that cause hair loss. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Chemotherapy treatments
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-clotting drugs
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Thyroid medications
  • Hormone replacement therapies
  • Birth control
  • Epilepsy medication
  • Cholesterol medication
  • Blood pressure medication

It is important to discuss all side effects with your doctor, including hair loss.

What Can You Do to Combat Hair Loss Due to Medications?

Understandably, you want to do everything you can to combat hair loss. Seeking professional treatment from a reputable hair restoration studio can help minimize hair loss and help your natural hair grow back faster. Our certified hair stylists are here to help. As North Carolina's most trusted hair restoration, LH Hair will conduct a thorough hair and scalp analysis and walk you through viable options. We offer trichological treatments to stimulate natural hair growth and hair replacement options. Schedule your free consultation today.