A question we’re often asked is – does thyroid disease and hair loss always happen together?
One of the more psychologically unpleasant and frustrating side effects that can occur with either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is hair loss. There is no way to predict which patients will experience hair loss and which will not. Similarly, there is no way to predict who will be severely affected and who will have only minimal hair loss.
Because each person is unique, responses to thyroid disease and treatment will vary. This can be disturbing to patients who have lost a great deal of hair and want to know exactly when this will stop and when their hair will be normal again.
Interesting Questions about Thyroid:
As with any disease, it is important that you watch for the early warning signs of hyperthyroidism. However, only your doctor can tell for sure whether or not you have the disease. Your doctor may examine:
- your history and physical appearance
- the amount of thyroid hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and thyroid stimulating antibodies in your blood
- the structure and function of your thyroid gland, using thyroid imaging, which takes a picture of the gland after you have been given a small amount of radioactive iodine
As with any disease, it is important that you watch for the early warning signs of hypothyroidism. However, only your doctor can tell for sure whether or not you have the disease. Your doctor may examine:
- your history and physical appearance
- the amount of thyroid hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and antithyroid antibodies in your blood.
If you have thyroid disease, your doctor can discuss which treatment is right for you. The two basic goals for treating thyroid disease are to return thyroid hormone levels to normal and to remove potentially cancerous lumps. Treatments include radioactive iodine, antithyroid drugs, beta-blocking drugs, thyroid hormone pills, and surgery. There are several types of treatment:
- Radioactive iodine is used to shrink a thyroid gland that has become enlarged or is producing too much hormone. It may be used on patients with hyperthyroidism, a goiter, or some cases of cancer.
- Surgery is normally used to remove a cancer and may also be used to remove a large goiter.
- Thyroid hormone pills are a common treatment for hypothyroidism, for patients with a goiter, and for patients who have had thyroid surgery. The pills provide the body with the right amount of thyroid hormone.
- Anithyroid drugs and beta-blocking drugs are used to treat hyperthyroid patients.
Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ
Thyroid Disease And Hair Loss Facts
Here are a few facts to remember if you experience hair loss because of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism:
- Hair loss from thyroid disease is usually reversible with proper treatment of the thyroid condition.
- Typically hair loss does not immediately stop when the blood work becomes normal. Most people stop losing their hair and begin replacing lost hair a few months after the thyroid hormone levels become normal. In some cases, it can take longer.
- Stress can contribute to hair loss. Because of the nature of thyroid disease, it can have a direct impact on the psychological well-being of patients, particularly on the coping mechanisms that deal with stress. Unfortunately, as patients become more and more concerned about their hair loss, their stress levels increase, making the situation worse.
- It is advisable to exercise caution when considering chemical treatments of the hair – for example, colouring or permanent waves. If at all possible, avoid such treatments until the hair loss has stopped.
- Cutting the hair shorter, using moisturizer and conditioning hair products, and avoiding back combing, are other methods to decrease stress on the hair.
The most important things you can do to minimize further hair loss are to faithfully take prescribed thyroid medications and to be calm and patient.