Everything You Need to Know About Hashimoto’s Disease and Thyroid-Related Hair Loss
Hashimoto’s Disease and Thyroid-Related Hair Loss
We’ve all experienced the lumps of hair that collect in our drains and brushes. The average person sheds 100-150 hairs per day. For most, the hairs you shed are replaced as your scalp progresses through its natural hair growth cycle. However, many people with autoimmune or thyroid conditions experience hair loss at a higher, more noticeable level.
Hashimoto’s disease is an auto-immune disease that affects the thyroid and can cause excessive hair loss. If you suspect you are struggling from thyroid-related hair loss, don’t be alarmed; hair loss from thyroid conditions is usually temporary and very treatable. Outlined below is a closer look at Hashimoto’s disease, how it causes hair loss and the best treatment options.
What Is Hashimoto’s Disease and Who Is Most at Risk?
Hashimoto’s disease is a condition caused by an underactive thyroid–a butterfly shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck. The thyroid is an essential part of the endocrine system, which produces all the hormones that coordinate and regulate a large portion of our body’s functions. Thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease, occur when the normal production of thyroid hormones—specifically triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) — are disrupted.
This disease starts out as Hyperthyroid, and this is due to the inflammatory response causing significant leakage of the hormones which leads to excessive hair shedding. Over time, antibodies attack the thyroid, causing it to swell and preventing the thyroid from producing thyroid hormones. The resulting chronic inflammation causes the thyroid to function below optimal levels or become underactive. At this point, the thyroid moves to a Hypothyroid phase. In this phase, patients continue to shed. Typically, patients are diagnosed in the Hypothyroid phase.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis disease primarily affects women. In fact, women are 8 times more likely to contract Hashimoto’s disease than men. Additionally, age plays into your risk factor. While you may contract this disease at a young age, it most commonly appears in middle aged women.
What Are the Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s can be challenging to catch early, as most people do not experience symptoms until the disease progresses. As the Hashimoto’s progresses, chronic inflammation causes the thyroid to become enlarged, and often causes the neck to appear visibly swollen. The enlarged thyroid can cause feelings of discomfort and fullness in your neck and is one of the most specific ways to identify a thyroid condition.
However, not everyone with Hashimoto’s disease experiences an enlarged thyroid, noticeable enough to suspect a problem. In these cases, in can be tricky to pinpoint that your thyroid is the source of your symptoms, as many of the common symptoms of Hashimoto’s could be caused by a variety of factors. Common symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include:
- Feeling constantly tired and lethargic
- Experiencing joint and muscle pain
- Diffuse hair loss across the scalp
- Brittle hair texture
- Heavy and painful menstrual cycles
- Weight gain and a slowed metabolism
If you have any of these symptoms, it is best to consult with a doctor, who can run a comprehensive blood panel to measure your thyroid levels.
Understanding the Hair Cycle
In order to understand how your thyroid directly affects hair loss and identify thyroid related hair loss, it is important to understand the phases of your hair cycle. Your hair naturally cycles through three stages:
Anagen Phase: This is the growing phase of the hair cycle, and the phase your scalp spends majority of its time in. At any time, approximately 90 percent of your scalp is in its growing phase.
Catagen Phase: This a transitional phase—your hair stops actively growing in preparation to shed. This phase can last up to three weeks. At any given time, less than one percent of your hair follicles are in this phase.
Telogen Phase: This is the shedding phase. In this phase, your hair prepares to shed and is pushed out of the follicle. For the average person, about 100 – 150 telogen hairs shed each day. After the hair sheds the cycle restarts.
How the Thyroid Affects Hair Loss
You might be surprised to learn how much action goes on at the follicular level. Hair follicles are their own regenerating, miniature organs—centers where proteins, growth factors, and hormones gather to give life to your scalp. Many of the vital bio molecules that regulate and coordinate the transition between hair phases are controlled by the T3 and T4 hormones.
When the thyroid is not producing optimal amounts of these hormones, your scalp is directly affected. T3 and T4 play an essential role in signaling the change of hair cycle phases. When you have low levels of these hormones, your scalp does not spend as much time in the growing phase as a healthy scalp. Instead, your follicles prematurely enter the shedding phase and often struggle to re-enter the growing stage.
This prolonged state of shedding is referred to as Telogen Effluvium. When your scalp is in this state, as many as 70 percent of your hairs can fall out within a 2-month period. In Hashimoto’s disease this hair loss most commonly presents in the form of diffuse hair loss across the scalp and eyebrows. Additionally, the reduced functionality of the T3 and T4 hormone reduces overall sebum production, which can give a thin, brittle appearance to your hair.
Treatment Options for Hair Loss from Hashimoto’s:
If your doctor diagnoses you with Hashimoto’s disease, they will most likely put you on thyroid medication to return your hormone levels to normal. However, it can often take months for your hair to return to normal.
At Ziering Medical, we offer a range of topical hair treatments that can accelerate the regrowth process. Some of our most successful treatment options for Hashimoto’s include:
ViviscalPro – is a supplement that contains marine enriched nutrients that provide essential bio factors needed to help thinning hair follicles.
Z83M – is our customized, compounded prescription that contains the FDA approved hair growth medicine Minoxidil with retinoic acid for enhanced penetration into your scalp and a blend of anti-inflammatory agents. It is extremely effective at stimulating hair growth.
LaserCap – The Ziering Lasercap uses low-level red laser therapy to stimulate cellular activity at the hair root, causing hair regeneration and regrowth. The actual device is placed inside an everyday baseball cap. Accelerating your hair growth process can be as easy as wearing a baseball cap at home or on the go.
AmnioZ and Exosomes – are stem cell therapies available at Ziering Medical which are administered as injections into the balding and thinning areas of the scalp. Stem Cell therapy is known to nourish and thicken hair follicles, stimulating hair regrowth and reducing inflammation. Both AmnioZ and Exosomes may be used in combination with any of the above therapies.
Hair plays a fundamental role in shaping our identity. Experiencing thyroid-related hormone loss can be extremely frustrating. If you have Hashimoto’s disease and are struggling with hair loss, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our hair specialists to choose a treatment plan that can get your hair back to its natural state.