Oftentimes when people are experiencing hair loss, they’ll take a hard look at their lifestyle and health levels and try to figure out what could be the catalyst. In many cases, hair loss is simply genetic and is happening independently of any other health or lifestyle factors. However, there are many situations in which hair loss is caused by a health condition other than a genetic predisposition.
For some, hair loss isn’t prevalent in their genetic makeup and their hair loss can be chocked up to insufficient diet, stress, or even excessive use of heat treatments and hair dye. However, many men and women experiencing thinning hair or balding are facing this issue as a side effect of a more serious health condition. Though many known illnesses can cause hair loss, some of the most common are conditions of the thyroid.
What does my thyroid do?
Your thyroid is an important gland located at the base of your neck that controls many of the body’s metabolic processes as well as the body’s growth and development and overall body temperature. In infants and small children, a properly functioning thyroid is crucial for healthy brain development.
Some of the most common diseases involving decreased thyroid functionality include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease. Though these autoimmune diseases have many varying aspects, one side effect that they all tend to have in common is hair thinning and hair loss.
How do I know if my thyroid is causing my hair loss?
For those with thyroid diseases experiencing hair loss, the issue is primarily caused by the hormonal imbalance that the disease is causing within the body. Many patients with thyroid conditions will take medication with the intent of balancing their hormones, which can reduce and improve several hormone-related symptoms including telogen effluvium, another term for temporary hair loss. However, these conditions can cause the development of other conditions within the body that also cause hair loss including celiac disease and alopecia areata.
Celiac disease is a condition related to iron deficiency, and some common signs include decreased energy and a lower red blood cell count. Because a lack of iron leads to improper blood circulation throughout the body, celiac patients can often experience thinning hair and hair loss.
Alopecia areata is a skin condition that causes hair to fall out in patches, often leaving uneven bald spots on the head. This condition can also affect other types of body hair such as the eyebrows and arm and leg hair. When men and women experience hair loss related to a genetic predisposition, they will typically notice thinning hair at the hairline, temples, and crown and at the hair part, respectively. However, when hair loss is caused by a thyroid condition, it will typically manifest itself all over the head, not just at specific areas. There’s a reason why genetic hair loss is called male and female “pattern” baldness—it presents itself in a pattern that can be tracked and specified. Thyroid-related hair loss does not follow a specific pattern and generally manifests itself in patchy hair loss all over the body and general hair thinning.
What can I do about my thyroid-related hair loss?
Luckily, there is a huge variety of hair loss treatments available on the market today for men and women experiencing all levels of hair thinning. Here are some of the most highly recommended methods:
Laser hair caps. Designed to slow hair loss and improve healthy hair growth with just 30 minutes of wear every other day, the best laser cap utilizes low-level light therapy, or LLLT, to rejuvenate your hair and scalp and improve the thickness and appearance of your hair over time. This method is great for the busy person on the go who doesn’t want to worry about taking a pill or applying a topical solution.
Minoxidil and finasteride. Known as the primary medicinal treatments for hair loss, minoxidil and finasteride can offer noticeable results when it comes to the slowing of hair loss, especially when taken in tandem. Minoxidil is typically sold as a topical gel or cream and can be purchased over the counter, while finasteride is typically sold in pill form and requires a prescription.
Hair transplants. If your hair loss is especially advanced or you have entirely bald spots, you may want to consider hair transplant surgery. This procedure, though pricey and invasive, can provide instant improvements in the appearance of your hair. However, hair transplant surgery does require up to 3 weeks of post-op recovery time.