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Common Medications that Cause Hair Loss – Part 2
In the previous article I pointed out that hair loss is a common side effect of so many medications that a full list would be nearly impossible. Nearly every class of medicines have individual meds that can lead to hair loss and baldness. While some medicines, like chemotherapeutic agents, are widely known to cause hair loss, others can cause hair loss but tend to fly under most peoples radars. In fact, some medications that are widely available over the counter and are used nearly universally can cause hair loss. This is a documented fact. The good news is that the hair loss caused by these medications can be stopped and reversed usually by recognizing the baldness early and stopping the medicine.
Additional medications cause hair loss:
The active ingredient in so many over the counter medications has been associated with hair loss (Meyer, 1979). This is an unfortunate truth because ibuprofen is used by so many people for the common every day aches and pains. But if you are suffering from hair loss, especially if it is something that began around the time you started taking ibuprofen you should consider stopping this medicine. There are safe alternatives to ibuprofen, although they do not work exactly the same way and may not give the same relief. Still, if you are worried about your hair, stopping this medication should be an early step in trying to regrow your hair. Ibuprofen is sold under the brand names Motrin, Advil and Nurpin. It is easy to get and is an over the counter medication. Hair loss, listed as alopecia is part of the side effect profile but unless you were looking carefully at the included information sheet you probably did not notice it.
If you are a woman who is losing her hair, you may want to check on the birth control method that you are using. Everyone must make the best choice for themselves and their specific situation, but it is a known fact that birth control methods that involve a lot of androgenic hormone activity can lead to hair loss in young women (Totsi, 2009). This is so common that usually a good obstetrician will forewarn their patient before starting the medication. The most common birth control that causes hair loss due to high androgenic effect is Alesse and Loestrin oral pills. The oral medications are not alone in causing hair loss. Methods such as the nuva-ring, and progestin implants also have the same hormonal effect of causing hair loss. Some women are more sensitive than others to these effects but it has been reported that upwards of 10% (Polaneczky, 1998) of women on these birth control methods suffer from an obvious reportable amount of hair loss (Dinerman, 1995). Luckily there are other, safe, effective methods of birth control, but consulting with your doctor and expressing your concerns is the first step to getting you on a medication that does what you want and decreases the possible side effects safely.
This medication is both a cure and a curse. Levothyroxine, commonly marketed as Synthroid, is artificial thyroid hormone and is used to treat hypothyroidism, which itself can cause hair loss. Unfortunately Levothyroxine has also been known to cause hair loss in and of itself (Hatipoglu, 2006). Some of the hair loss associated with Levothyroxine appears to be a side effect of too much medication causing a person to induce hyperthyroidism, another medical cause of hair loss, but Levothyroxine even at normal therapeutic levels has been shown to lead to hair loss. Know that levothyroxine is a critical medication for persons with hypoactive thyroid and it should not be stopped without your doctor’s approval.
What should do if you are on one of these medications and it cannot be changed for important health reasons? First realize that not everyone on these medications loses their hair. Second, if you do feel that you are losing your hair don’t give up on yourself – there are many proven hair loss remedies and hair care therapies that can help keep your hair healthy. Many of them are available on this website, complete with reviews, scientific explanation to how they work and background information on the mechanism of the hair loss and the therapy you may wish to try. Do not give up on yourself and condemn yourself to a bald head. Take good care of your hair, give it the treatment it needs, the nutrition it craves, and if you want to try to give yourself the best chances of hair regrowth – take action asap!
1. Meyer HC.” Alopecia associated with ibuprofen”. JAMA. 1979 Jul 13;242(2):142.
2. Tosti A, Piraccini BM, Sisti A, Duque-Estrada B.” Hair loss in women”.Minerva Ginecol. 2009 Oct;61(5):445-52.
3. Polaneczky M, Liblanc M. “Long-term depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) use in inner-city adolescents”. J Adolesc Health. 1998 Aug;23(2):81-8.
4. Dinerman LM, Wilson MD, Duggan AK, Joffe A. “Outcomes of adolescents using levonorgestrel implants vs oral contraceptives or other contraceptive methods”.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Sep;149(9):967-72.
5. Hatipoglu N, Kurtoglu S, Keskin M, Kendirci M “An occasional side effect in the treatment of congenital hypothyroidism: hair loss”. Eur J Pediatr. 2006 Jul;165(7):500-1
This article was posted on December 28th, 2010 in Hair Loss Causes
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