The Price of Relief: Exploring Medications that Cause Hair Loss

Shilpi Jain
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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medications that cause hair loss

Hair loss can be distressing for anyone, regardless of age or gender. 

Around 35 million men and 21 million women experience hair loss worldwide.

Genetic factors and aging are often blamed for hair loss.

But many other underlying causes can contribute to this problem. 

A wide range of over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also cause hair loss

Read along to learn the most common medications that cause hair loss

Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers treat various cardiovascular conditions, such as Hypertension and Arrhythmias. 

They block the Adrenaline effects, which slow down the heart rate, and reduce blood pressure.

However, one of the potential side effects of beta blockers is hair loss.

Beta-blockers may cause Telogen effluvium, which leads to hair fall. 

Telogen Effluvium:
In Telogen effluvium, hair follicles prematurely enter the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, causing hair to fall out more quickly than it can be replaced.

ACE-inhibitors

Another Hypertension medicine, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme), can cause hair loss.  

They work by blocking the production of Angiotensin II.

It is a hormone that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. 

Some studies have suggested that ACE inhibitors may interfere with the production of Testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone, which are important for hair growth. 

The hair loss usually occurs evenly across the scalp rather than in patches or clumps. 

In most cases, hair loss caused by ACE inhibitors is reversible and will stop once the medication is discontinued. 

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants help prevent blood clots from forming in the blood vessels. 

They are commonly used to treat or prevent deep vein Thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and stroke. 

Different blood thinners include Heparin, Warfarin, and newer drugs, such as Dabigatran, Rivaroxaban, and Apixaban.

As a side effect, Anticoagulants may cause hair loss. 

It disrupts the normal growth cycle of hair follicles. 

Blood thinners can interfere with the normal clotting process.

It can cause bleeding and bruising in various body parts, including the scalp. 

This can damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss.

In addition, blood thinners may also affect the body’s hormonal balance, which can interfere with the normal growth of hair. 

Studies have stated that warfarin may interfere with the production of hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, that are important for hair growth.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants medicineSource: pixelshot
Antidepressants medicine

Antidepressants treat depression and other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

There are different classes of antidepressants, including

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Antidepressant medications disrupt the body’s hormonal balance and restrict the production of testosterone and DHT. 

This can cause hair loss more quickly than it can be replaced.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Cholesterol-lowering drugs, also known as statins, are medications used to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. 

They work by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase.

The enzyme is responsible for the production of cholesterol in the liver. 

The medication can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Statins may interfere with testosterone and DHT production, leading to hair loss.

It can also cause Telogen effluvium, forcing premature hair follicles to the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. 

Retinoids

Vitamin ASource: Boarding1Now_from_Getty_Images
Vitamin A

Retinoids are a type of medication that is derived from vitamin A. 

They treat various skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, and wrinkles. 

Retinoids can cause skin irritation and inflammation, which can damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss. 

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants treat seizures, epilepsy, and other neurological conditions. 

They may cause hair loss as a side effect. 

Anticonvulsants disrupt the normal growth cycle of hair follicles, causing premature hair shedding

They may also interfere with metabolizing vitamins and minerals important for hair growth, such as biotin and zinc.

Certain anticonvulsants have been associated with a higher risk of hair loss than others. 

These may include phenytoin, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine.

Antithyroid drugs

Medications that are used to treat Hyperthyroidism may also cause hair loss. 

Thyroid hormones regulate the growth cycle of hair follicles. 

An excess thyroid hormone in the body can disturb the normal hair growth cycle and lead to hair loss. 

Antithyroid drugs work by reducing the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. 

It can also disrupt the normal hair growth cycle and cause hair loss as a side effect.

NSAIDs

NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever. 

Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

In rare cases, excessive use of NSAIDs may lead to hair loss. 

NSAIDs work by restricting the production of Prostaglandins, which regulate inflammation and pain. 

Prostaglandins also play a role in the growth cycle of hair follicles.

NSAIDs can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle by inhibiting the production of Prostaglandins. 

This could lead to hair loss.  

Anti-Parkinson’s drugs

Anti-Parkinson’s drugs are used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Examples of anti-Parkinson’s drugs include levodopa, dopamine agonists, and MAO-B inhibitors.

Hair growth is a complex process that involves multiple factors, including hormones, growth factors, and inflammation. 

Anti-Parkinson’s drugs can disturb the normal growth cycle of hair and lead to hair loss.

Levodopa, a medication used to treat Parkinson’s, can cause changes in Prolactin hormone levels. 

High levels of Prolactin have been associated with hair loss in some cases.

Dopamine agonists can also affect hormone levels and lead to hair loss. 

Birth control pills

Birth control pills are primarily used to prevent pregnancy and can cause hair loss in women

They contain synthetic estrogen and progestin.

It prevents ovulation and thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg.

Hair loss is a rare side effect of birth control pills, but it can occur in some women. 

Birth control pills can cause changes in Androgen levels. 

Androgens are a type of hormone that is involved in the regulation of hair growth. 

High levels of Androgens have been associated with hair loss in women.

Additionally, birth control pills can cause nutrient deficiencies, particularly in B vitamins, important for healthy hair growth

Nutrient deficiencies can also contribute to hair loss.

Chemotherapy drugs that cause hair loss

Chemotherapy drugs can cause hair loss in the growing stage of hair follicles, also called the Anagen phase. 

Hair loss starts occurring around 2-5 weeks after beginning Chemotherapy.

The chemo drugs that can cause hair loss may include, Altretamine (Hexalen) and Carboplatin (Paraplatin). 

Warning
If you are experiencing hair loss due to any of the above medications, do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.

Conclusion

Hair loss can occur as a side effect of many medications. 

These medications interfere with the hair growth cycle, which leads to hair fall. 

If you are experiencing drug-induced hair loss, contact your healthcare provider.

They may recommend an alternative or adjust the present dose. 

Doctors may also often recommend topical Minoxidil and Finasteride to manage excessive hair loss. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your hair is falling out from medication?

Hair loss from medication can be identified by sudden or excessive shedding, hair texture or quality changes, and temporal correlation with medication use. The drug-induced hair loss may cause hair thinning and does not show patchy hair loss. 

Will hair loss due to medication grow back?

Yes, hair loss due to medication is temporary, and hair may grow back. In many cases, hair loss caused by medication may grow back once the medication is stopped or the underlying issue is resolved. However, it depends on the medication and individual factors.

What drugs are most likely to cause hair loss?

Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer are known to cause hair loss. Other medicines, like some antidepressants, anticoagulants, and blood pressure medications, may also cause hair loss as a side effect.

How long does drug-induced hair loss last?

The duration of drug-induced hair loss can depend on the specific drug, the dosage, and the individual’s response to the medication. In some cases, hair loss may be temporary and resolved after discontinuing the drug or completing the course of treatment.

Citations:
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