The Independent Pharmacy

How To Spot And Treat Thyroid Related Hair Loss

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 6 Oct 2023

Understanding thyroid-related hair loss begins with a compassionate journey towards an accurate diagnosis and a personalised treatment plan that considers your unique situation. Look for sudden, unexplained thinning hair across the scalp accompanied by dry skin and fatigue.

To get more clarity, see a doctor to test your thyroid hormone levels - a simple blood test can confirm if an underactive thyroid gland is causing your hair issues. Treatment typically involves medications to regulate thyroid levels, along with supplements and hair products that support healthy regrowth.

In this guide, we'll help you to understand what thyroid-related hair loss looks like and how to treat it.

With the right knowledge and professional support, you can get to the root of thyroid-triggered hair issues and take control of regrowing your hair.

How to Spot Thyroid-Related Hair Loss

Distinctive Signs of Thyroid-Related Hair Loss

Hair loss from an underactive thyroid gland can have distinctive features that set it apart from other causes of thinning hair. Look out for sudden, excessive shedding that leaves noticeably less hair on your brush or shower drain. The hair loss may occur evenly all over your scalp. With an underactive thyroid, strands often lack lustre and become dry and brittle. You may spot more hairs with split ends that tangle and break easily.

In addition to accelerating hair fall, an underactive thyroid can trigger other changes like unexplained weight gain, constant fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, puffiness, and muscle weakness. Pay close attention if your hair loss is accompanied by tiredness, weight gain, dry, brittle skin, or feeling cold frequently. These systemic symptoms together point to a possible thyroid imbalance.

Self-Assessment for Thyroid-Related Hair Loss

You can spot important clues by closely monitoring your hair health and any accompanying symptoms:

  • Keeping a gentle tally of hair loss, like the hairs in your brush or shower drain, can be an important part of understanding your condition, though we know this might not be an easy task.
  • Check for thinning hair evenly across your scalp. Unlike pattern baldness, thyroid hair loss is diffuse rather than concentrated in specific areas.
  • Examine hair strands for dull, dry, brittle texture with split ends.
  • Note down episodes of extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, and unintended weight gain.
  • Check for skin dryness and sensitivity to cold temperatures.

If you're experiencing a combination of symptoms over several weeks, it's important to discuss them with your doctor. We understand that acknowledging these symptoms can be worrisome, but getting help is a crucial step towards feeling better. Don’t ignore these red flags indicating a potential thyroid issue.

The Role of Professional Evaluation

While self-monitoring can raise alerts, only a doctor can clinically diagnose an underactive thyroid. Make an appointment if increased hair loss coincides with fatigue, weight gain, and dry skin. Simple blood tests measuring your thyroid hormone levels offer a definitive diagnosis:

  • A TSH test looks for signs of an underactive thyroid by measuring the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood, which is a key indicator of thyroid health.
  • T3 and T4 tests measure actual thyroid hormone levels in your bloodstream.
  • Thyroid antibody tests help identify autoimmune conditions affecting thyroid function.

Come prepared to share your symptoms, family history, and any self-assessments with your doctor. This will allow for an accurate diagnosis so the right treatment can begin to restore thyroid balance and address the root causes of ongoing hair loss.

How to Treat Thyroid-Related Hair Loss

Medical Therapies Specific to Thyroid-Related Hair Issues

The main medical treatment involves medications to restore normal thyroid hormone levels.

For an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), doctors often prescribe levothyroxine, which is a medication that acts like the natural thyroid hormone your body is lacking. Taking this oral medication daily helps correct the imbalance interfering with hair growth. Finding the right amount of levothyroxine for your body can take 3-6 months, and it might be up to a year before you see your hair fully grow back, so it's important to be patient.

For an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), medications such as Carbimazole and propylthiouracil are used to reduce the overproduction of thyroid hormones. As levels decline to normal, rapid hair loss stabilises. However, close monitoring is needed to prevent overcorrection.

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Regaine For Men: Extra Strength Solution
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In addition to thyroid medications, treatments such as minoxidil, a hair growth lotion, and low-level laser therapy, a treatment that uses light to stimulate hair growth, may be recommended to help your hair come back faster. Products like Regaine and Regaine for Women contain minoxidil and are sometimes used for thyroid-related thinning. Discuss these supplemental therapies with your doctor.

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Regaine For Women
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Supportive Hair Care During Thyroid Treatment

As you navigate medical treatments to balance your thyroid hormones, gentle hair care practices can also nurture your hair's regrowth. We're here to support you in finding ways to care for your hair that feel soothing and beneficial:

  • Choose shampoos and conditioners that are gentle and moisturising, made especially for hair that is thinning or breaking easily. Try to avoid products with strong chemicals, like sulfates, which can damage your hair more. At The Independent Pharmacy, we offer Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo and Alpecin Double Effect, which contain hair-strengthening compounds.
  • Let hair air dry instead of subjecting it to heating tools like blow dryers or curling irons. Also, avoid dyeing or chemically treating hair until your thyroid is under control.
  • Consider taking an over-the-counter biotin supplement, which may strengthen hair and prevent breakage. Check with your doctor first regarding dosage and safety.
  • Try a topical serum containing peptides (small proteins that can help strengthen hair follicles), amino acids, biotin, and antioxidants to stimulate follicles. Look for formulas targeted for thinning hair.
  • Get a monthly scalp massage to increase blood circulation and provide gentle exfoliation to clear blocked follicles.
  • Use silk pillowcases and limit hair brushing to be very gentle and minimise breakage.

Monitoring and Adjusting Treatment

Regular check-ins with your doctor are essential to monitor your thyroid hormone levels, and we understand that managing these appointments can be an added stress. Remember that each visit is a step forward in your health journey. This allows them to adjust medications depending on your progress and symptoms. In between visits:

  • Carefully track any changes in shedding, breakage, and new regrowth. Document details to discuss at appointments.
  • Record your energy levels, weight changes, skin dryness and other symptoms tied to thyroid issues.
  • Note any side effects experienced from prescribed thyroid medications.
  • Keep a medication dosage log.

Ongoing communication ensures your doctor fine-tunes thyroid treatment for optimal restoration of hair growth. Don’t neglect follow-up care.

When to Seek Further Medical Advice

If you find that your hair loss isn't improving or is getting worse despite treatment, we know how disheartening this can be. It's important to connect with your doctor promptly to discuss the next steps. Schedule an urgent appointment if hair loss fails to improve after several months or if sudden increased shedding recurs. Worsening symptoms require investigation to check hormone levels via blood tests. Your doctor may need to adjust medications to get thyroid function back on track.

Also, seek immediate care for any new symptoms like:

  • Chest pain, pounding heart rate, tremors
  • Severe headaches, fever, clammy skin
  • Racing or irregular pulse
  • Vision changes, eye swelling or protrusion
  • Confusion, anxiety, agitation
  • Fainting spells

These could signal a thyroid storm, a rare but dangerous complication of uncontrolled overactive thyroid requiring emergency treatment.

It may be tempting to increase thyroid medication without medical approval or take supplements claiming to cure the condition. Avoid the urge. Self-medication often does more harm than good. Follow prescribed dosages closely, and do not make changes without your doctor’s guidance. Thyroid care relies on routine blood testing and professional oversight to calibrate hormone levels.

The takeaway?

Seek immediate medical advice if hair loss is not resolving, or you develop concerning new symptoms. Maintaining open communication and sticking to your prescribed regimen is key. You and your doctor can then make adjustments, so you regain hair as thyroid function normalises. Do not neglect follow-up care.

Your Next Steps

Now that you know how to identify thyroid-related hair loss and understand the treatment options available, it’s time to take action. Don’t ignore symptoms - start the process of getting an accurate diagnosis.

The Independent Pharmacy offers confidential online consultations with a clinical team who can review your situation and order blood tests as needed. Get a professional assessment without leaving your home.

Once diagnosed, we can help fulfil any prescribed medications and provide over-the-counter supplements to support hair regrowth. Have treatments quickly delivered to your door in discreet packaging. We’re here to make taking control of thyroid hair loss as convenient as possible.

Remember, recognising the signs and causes is the vital first step to resolving your hair issues. Consider The Independent Pharmacy as your partner in this process - our guidance is designed to help you understand and navigate thyroid-related hair loss.

FAQs

Will hair loss from hypothyroidism grow back?

With proper thyroid treatment, the majority of people with hypothyroidism-related hair loss see significant regrowth. It may take 3-6 months once levels normalise before hair follicles reactivate and new strands start emerging. Be patient and keep taking medications as directed. Communicate with your doctor if hair loss persists beyond 12 months of treatment.

What tests diagnose thyroid hair loss?

Blood tests like TSH, T3, and T4 measure actual thyroid hormone levels. Thyroid antibody tests help diagnose autoimmune thyroid disorders, often underlying hair thinning. A physical exam also allows doctors to examine hair loss patterns and feel for thyroid enlargement.

Where does thyroid hair loss start?

It often starts with thinning hair at the temples, crown, and frontal hairline. As an underactive thyroid progresses, the loss can become more widespread. The pattern provides clues compared to male or female pattern balding focused on specific areas.

What does thyroid hair feel like?

Hair affected by an underactive thyroid often feels dry and brittle with split, frayed ends. Lack of thyroid hormones impacts hair texture and causes strands to thin out. The diminished shine comes from oil gland impairment.

How does your body feel with thyroid issues?

Symptoms like unexplained weight gain, constant fatigue, sensitivity to colds, muscle weakness, dry skin, constipation, depression, and hair loss help identify a possible thyroid problem. Pay attention to these systemic clues together, not just changes to your hair.

Sources:

Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) - Diagnosis - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Prevalence | Background information | Hypothyroidism | CKS | NICE

Impact of Thyroid Dysfunction on Hair Disorders - PMC (nih.gov)

Levothyroxine: a medicine for an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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