Thinning Hair
Thinning Hair

No one can stop hair loss completely. But you can have healthier, fuller and thicker hair while slowing down the rate of loss.

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Drugs That Can Induce Hair Loss

Just as many pharmaceutical and herbal agents can be used to treat hair loss by stimulating hair growth, drugs may cause hair loss, hirsutism, or textural and color changes. Those that cause alopecia are mostly due to toxic effects on the hair matrix, which are usually reversible. Many different types of drugs can cause telogen effluvium (loss of hair in the resting phase). Cytotoxic drugs, such as chemotherapy agents, cause anagen effluvium (loss of hair in the growing phase).32

Interestingly, many of the drugs used to treat hair loss (both anti-androgens and topical hair growth promoters) report that they may also induce temporary hair loss (typically in high doses).29 Some types of drugs that may cause telogen effluvium include:


DRUGS THAT CAN CAUSE TEMPORARY HAIR LOSS

AGENT
WHAT IT DOES
ANABOLIC STEROIDS


(e.g., stanozolol) 32
Androgenic effects32
ANDROGEN MEDICATIONS

(e.g., mesterolone and testosterone) 32
Androgenic effects32
ANGIOTENSIN-CONVERTING ENZYME (ACE) INHIBITORS

(e.g., captopril and enalapril) 29
Binds zinc29
ANTIBIOTICS 32
Unknown, but antibiotic treatments that kill intestinal bacteria that synthesize biotin can cause biotin deficiency and hair loss. 32
ANTICONVULSANTS

(e.g., carbamazepine and valproic acid) 29
Suggested to reduce selenium and zinc levels29 Also known to reduce biotin levels by competitively binding to molecules that transport biotin from the intestines into the circulatory system and by accelerating the biotin breakdown, possibly causing biotin deficiency33
ANTICOAGULANTS

(e.g., coumadin, heparin, and warfarin) 29, 32
Affects blood flow in dermal papilla32
ANTIDEPRESSANTS

(e.g., amphetamines, lithium)
Lithium can cause hypothyroidism (a cause of hair loss). 29
AROMATASE INHIBITORS

(e.g., formestane and letrozole)32
Inhibits enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen30
BETA BLOCKERS

(e.g., acebutolol, betaxolol, nadolol, propranolol, and timolol) 29
Unknown, but these systemic blood-pressure lowering drugs and topical glaucoma medications are commonly associated with telogen effluvium32
ESTROGEN ANTAGONISTS

(e.g.,tamoxifen) 29
Can cause telogen effluvium by inhibiting the pro-growth effect of estrogen in the hair follicle. 29
FIBRATES AND STATINS

(e.g., clofibrate, cholestyramine, lovastatin, and triparanol) 29, 32
Interferes with synthesis of cholesterol, a substance that is part of hair; possibly dose-dependent. 14, 29, 32
GOUT MEDICATIONS

(e.g., allopurinol) 32
Unknown, but commonly associated with hair loss. 2
IMMUNOMODULATING DRUGS

(e.g., alpha interferon and gamma interferon) 32

Effects on inflammatory proteins; occurs in about 20% of hepatitis C patients undergoing interferon treatment. 32, 34

If hair loss occurs, it typically begins in the third or fourth month of therapy, and may continue for another three months after interferon treatments end. However, medical experts state that even if there is hair loss it is often minimal and is temporary in nature. 35

PROGESTINS

(e.g., levonorgestrel, norethisterone, and tibolone) 32
Certain progestins have androgenic effects32
RETINOIDS

(e.g., excessive vitamin A, acitretin, and isotretinoin) 32
Interferes with buildup of keratin in hair follicle32
THYROID MEDICATIONS

(e.g., levothyroxine and propylthiouracil2, 32
Used to treat thyroid conditions ; interferes with thyroid metabolism. 32

Table 7: Drugs Reported to Cause Hair Loss

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Excess hair growth in areas atypical for females (e.g., face, chest, and back).
Drugs to lower cholesterol (e.g., fenofibrate).
Vitamin A derivatives, such as acitretin and isotretinoin.
Synthroid®, used to replace thyroid hormone in treating hypothyroidism.
Used to treat hyperthyroidism.