The Link Between Thyroid Disease and Hair Loss

You might have visited your doctor to check on the reason for your sudden hair loss and he/she would have told you to check for thyroid levels. You might have wondered what does the thyroid levels have to do with the hair loss. But the irony is that both were interconnected and low or high levels of thyroid hormones might leave you with the nightmare of going bald.

So how are they connected?

Hair follicles follow a natural cycle of hair growth and resting phases. In a given time, most of your hair will be growing while only a small portion of it will be in the resting phase. But when changes in the body disturb that cycle, too much hair rests at one time, resulting in excessive hair loss, hair thinning or balding.

Mild hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, or short-lived thyroid problems doesn’t cause hair loss. Severe and prolonged cases of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism cause hair loss. The loss is diffuse, involving the entire scalp rather than discrete areas. There are chances of regrowth if the thyroid disorder is treated properly.

Treating Thyroid Disease and Hair Loss

The good news is that once the thyroid disease is diagnosed and the right treatment is prescribed, the hair loss problem resolves on its own. Healthy hormone levels lead to healthy hair growth.

It may take some time but the right treatment will give you the best results. It is suggested to go for hair care products that are free from alcohol and minoxidil. If you’re uncomfortable with the look of your hair while treatment is in progress, you may consider wearing a wig or getting a new hairstyle till the results of your thyroid treatment begin.

Thyroid disease affects other body functions along with hair growth, so make sure to talk to your doctor and get the right treatment.

Combating the psychological effects of Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. It is most often a temporary condition but can result in permanent hair loss in rare cases. It neither tends to follow predictable patterns nor it is a condition that can be treated with certainty as the outcome of the condition varies from person to person.

It is not a life-threatening condition and does not directly make a person feel ill. One is still able to function normally and live life to the fullest with Alopecia areata. The effects of the disease are, for the most part, aesthetically distressing, which can lead to problems on the emotional front.

As with most medical conditions, however, the earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment measures implemented, the more positive outlook. Continuous treatment helps in stimulating growth and improving one’s overall appearance.

Those who experience a poorer outcome in terms of treatment results include:
● Individuals who have eczema, as well as alopecia areata
● Individuals who begin experiencing hair loss from a young age
● Individuals who experience hair loss over an extended period (long-term alopecia)
● Individuals who experience widespread hair loss (Alopecia totalis or Alopecia universalis)

Medical treatment addresses hair loss (the physical aspect of the condition), but can also include coping mechanisms for the emotional symptoms which may arise. Counselling and support groups are common recommendations in helping a person to deal with the emotional aspect of hair loss, which can dramatically affect confidence, and lead to increased levels of anxiety (at worst, even depression).

To avoid such emotional problems and possible social isolation, it can help a great deal to confide in counsellors or others with the condition themselves (within a safe environment), who can all provide comfort, advice and even helpful suggestions to improve one’s appearance (such as safe to use hair-coloured powders and creams to mask bald patches or permanent make-up techniques to replace missing eye-brows).

Hair-growth-cycle

After writing about the hair mechanism in our previous post, we are going to clarify what causes hair fall in this post.

A tiny thin hair strand which won’t even cause a smallest of pain while cutting can cause a huge pain when it falls on its own. We think about it, stress about it and try hard to stop it. We all must have read/researched about hair fall and ways to prevent it at least once in our life.
Well, let us clarify something first which can make you happy.
Shedding of 80-100 hair strands per day is totally natural and normal. This process is called as shedding and not hair fall. It is part of the hair growth cycle. So yes we have to know about the hair growth cycle first.
The 3 stages of hair growth cycle are

  1. Anagen Phase
  2. Catagen Phase
  3. Telogen Phase

Hair growth cycle

Anagen Phase

Anangen phase is considered as the growth phase for the hair strands and this stage lasts up to 2-7 years. The number of years a hair strand remains at this stage is determined by genetics and other internal external factors. The more the hair remains at this stage, the lengthier is the hair strand. About 85% of the hair strands on our head go through the anagen phase.
Catagen Phase
Catagen Phase is considered as the transition phase and this phase lasts for only 10-14 days. During this phase, the hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the root. This cuts the essential blood supply for the hair growth and stops the growth.
Telogen Phase
Telogen Phase is considered as the resting phase and lasts up to 3 months. During this phase, the hair follicle remains rested. The hair strand sheds and once the telogen phase is over, new hair growth starts. 10-15% of the hair strands on our head go through telogen phase.
The beauty of the nature is that each hair strand has its own growth cycle which makes sure that all the hairs won’t fall out of our head during the Telogen phase. It is evident now that irrespective of any preventive measures you take, the hair strands at the telogen phase are going to shed.
Many of few must have let out a sigh of relief after reading this but don’t waste your time counting the number of hair strands to check whether it is within the 80-100 limit.
When the shedding exceeds 100 strands per day, it is considered as hair fall and proper treatment is required to control it. There are various reasons behind hair fall and let’s look in to it in detail in our upcoming posts.