Saturday, May 31, 2014

Understanding hair loss from medication

Understanding  hair loss from medication




There are many medications on the market that cause temporary, and permanent hair loss.  Some blood thinners, acne medications derived from vitamin A, some anti-depression drugs, and some high blood pressure medications can cause temporary hair loss. Often times busy doctors will not go over all the side effects of prescribed medications. Be sure to do your additional research on any prescribed medication. For some medications, the side effect of  hair loss is unavoidable.  The good news is
that for most cases, thinning, and hair loss are easily reversible once you stop taking the drug.

Medications can lead to two types of hair loss: Telogen effluvium, and anagen effluvium. 

Your hair grows in cycles. Drugs that cause thinning, interfere with the normal cycle of scalp growth. During the Anagen phase, your hair grows.  During the telogen phase your hair rests, and does not grow for 3-4 months. 
Anagen effluvium is hair loss that occurs during the anagen cycle, when the hairs are actively growing. It prevents cells from dividing, thus eliminating new hair growth.
Telogen effluvium is the most common drug induced hair loss. This condition causes the active follicles to go into a state of rest.  Telogen effluvium shed hairs can be recognized by a small bulb of keratin on the root end. This increased shedding, combined with 100-150 hairs shedding daily, leads to thinning, and even baldness.

For medication induced hair loss, there are steps you can take to counteract hair loss, or thinning. If you are experiencing drug induced hair loss, be sure to express your concerns to your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe you an alternative medicine to stop the hair loss. You may also want to try herbal remedies like garlic supplements, topical treatments, and biotin supplements. Be sure to consult your doctor before begin a herbal regimen. Those fighting cancer have tried a controversial method called scalp hypothermia to limit hair loss. The cold compress sends the hair follicles into suspended animation prior to contact with the cancer fighting  drug. This stops the hair follicle cells from taking up the drug and being damaged by it.  There are serious concerns with this techniques including cancer recurrence in the scalp, but there need to be more studies done. As always, be sure to consult your physician before beginning this method. Another way women are fighting drug induced hair loss is with another drug, Minoxidil.  This medication slow hair loss, and stimulates hair growth, but it comes with its own side effects.  For some medications, the side effect of  hair loss is unavoidable.  The good news is that for most cases, thinning, and hair loss are easily reversible once you stop taking the drug.