Thyroid hair loss is one of the most common and distressing symptoms of an underactive thyroid.
This type of hair loss leads to diffuse hair shedding, and in extreme cases it causes noticeable bald patches to appear.
Why does thyroid dysfunction trigger hair loss?
The thyroid hormones fuel up day to day function of the hair follicles. For this reason hair loss is another sign your thyroid hormones are out of balance.
Struggling With Thyroid Hair Loss?
It’s normal to feel worried and frustrated that you are losing your hair by the handful, and your hair is looking thin and lifeless.
Your hair loss may be even more obvious when washing or brushing your hair. Many women report their excessive hair loss ends up clogging the shower drain, or they have to sweep their bathroom floor more than usual.
Studies Link Thyroid Hair Loss With Low T3/T4
Back in 2008 a landmark study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism established a ground breaking link between thyroid function and hair loss.
The German researchers made this remarkable discovery by studying actual human scalp tissue taken from people who had undergone recent cosmetic surgery. Their investigations revealed human hair follicles are direct targets of the two main thyroid hormones; thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
What they discovered is this…
A drop in both T4 and T3 leads to significant hair loss all over the scalp.
Interestingly, the researchers also discovered the thyroid hormones play an important role in regulating the natural growth and shedding cycles of hair. And most importantly, the thyroid hormones activate the growth of new hair.
Stress Triggers Greater Hair Loss. It’s Frustrating!
We all know stress is not good for overall health. When it comes to thyroid health, too much stress shuts down proper thyroid function.
Too much stress can also trigger greater thyroid hair loss.
Have you noticed that you lose more hair after periods of intense stress?
For example, extreme emotional stress, childbirth, surgery, or chronic infections are just some of the stresses that can have a negative impact thyroid function.
In fact, when your thyroid hormones are out of whack it can set off not just hair loss but also a broad range of hypothyroid symptoms.
Thyroid Hair Loss Is Different To Female Pattern Baldness
Thyroid hair loss is different to patchy bald spots caused by ‘female pattern baldness’.
- Female pattern baldness usually starts on the crown of the head, or there is noticeable thinning on the top of the scalp. This is the type of baldness pattern commonly seen in men.
- Female pattern baldness is due to the action of androgens, the male hormones that should only be present in small amounts in women. When women have excessive androgen levels it can stimulate male type baldness.
Going Grey Early is Also A Hypothyroid Sign
Did you hair go grey at an early age? This is confirmed by studies that show premature greying can be due to low thyroid hormone activity.
Your thyroid hormones stimulate melanin production within the hair follicles. Melanin is a natural pigment that gives hair it’s color. Even a small decline in melanin can cause the hair to turn grey.
And as you can imagine, the connection between early greying and thyroid health is often missed.
Is Thyroid Hair Loss Reversible?
If you are struggling with thyroid hair loss you may be wondering if it’s reversible.
Let me answer this question from my Naturopathic perspective.
Yes, I think it is possible to reverse thyroid hair loss. The key is to get a proper diagnosis so you can effectively treat the underlying thyroid issue. By treating the root cause you can finally put a halt to further hair loss.
Once your thyroid hormones level out you should see improvements in the health of your hair, and less visible hair loss.
A holistic treatment strategy includes a natural thyroid diet, healthy lifestyle changes, and supplementing with thyroid-supporting nutrients such as iodine, zinc, selenium and B-vitamins.
Antonini D, Sibilio A, Dentice M, Missero C. An Intimate Relationship between Thyroid Hormone and Skin: Regulation of Gene Expression. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2013;4:104. Link.
Van Beek N, Bodo E, Kromminga A, et al. Thyroid Hormones Directly Alter Human Hair Follicle Functions: Anagen Prolongation and Stimulation of Both Hair Matrix Keratinocyte Proliferation and Hair Pigmentation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Nov;93(11):4381-8. Link