The Good News About Thyroid Hair Loss… It Can Grow Back
Hair loss, next to weight loss, is one of the more tragic consequences of having low thyroid function.
I don’t know a woman (or man) around that thinks losing their hair is acceptable and something that they are just okay with occurring.
The hair loss industry is HUGE and there are more and more treatments coming out every year.
There’s one big problem:
Most of these therapies don’t work for people with thyroid conditions because hair loss from your thyroid is a beast in itself.
Don’t let this bring you down, though, because there ARE definitely ways that you can regrow your hair if your thyroid has taken it from you.
In this article you will learn:
- Why hair loss is so difficult to treat if you have thyroid problems
- What type of hair loss your thyroid causes and how you can use these patterns to help identify the cause of hair loss
- My top 3 best treatments for reversing thyroid hair loss and how I help thyroid patients regrowth their hair
- What to expect in terms of how long it takes to regrow your hair if you have thyroid problems
- And more…
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The Bad News?
If the good news is that you CAN grow your hair back then what’s the bad news?
The bad news is that it’s not exactly easy to improve hair growth if you have any sort of low thyroid condition.
And when I’m talking about low thyroid conditions I am referring to people who have a sluggish thyroid, those who have hypothyroidism, those who have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, those who have had their thyroid removed, and those who have had their thyroid ablated.
All of these conditions result in a situation in which it’s possible (and usually likely) that you do NOT have enough thyroid hormone in your body.
This is true even for those people who are taking thyroid medication, by the way!
Going back to hair loss in thyroid patients…
Why is it so difficult?
Because the hair loss found in thyroid patients is unlike any other type of hair loss out there.
Most cases of hair loss can be attributed to one major cause.
But patients who have hair loss from their thyroid usually have more than 1 problem going on.
To complicate matters further, doctors are really not educated when it comes to managing these issues.
For instance, it’s unlikely that your doctor knows or even cares that one of the most common causes of hair loss in thyroid patients is from thyroid medication (more on this later).
Because you can’t count on your doctor to help guide you, you are kind of on your own.
Thyroid Hair Loss Patterns
Why does your thyroid cause hair loss in the first place?
Thyroid hormone impacts almost every cell in your body and this includes your hair follicles (1).
As thyroid hormone drops in the body, the activation of hair follicles is also impacted.
Hair follicles go through a number of phases that regulate when they grow and when they fall out.
Low thyroid states limit signals to the hair follicles which results in decreased growth.
Hair that grows slowly will still fall out on time but it won’t catch up to other hair follicles and their phases.
The result is that your hair is falling out faster than it can grow.
The exact opposite is true in cases of hyperthyroidism.
If you have too much thyroid hormone then the signals being sent to your hair follicles are one that will cause them to grow and then fall out too quickly.
The result is the same, you still experience hair loss.
Understanding how your thyroid impacts hair growth can help you understand if your hair loss is actually attributed to your thyroid.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many different types of hair loss and each one tends to be associated with a different pattern.
You can use these patterns to help identify what type of problem is causing your hair loss.
Signs your hair loss is from your thyroid:
- You have lost the outer one-third of your eyebrows (this is an incredibly sensitive marker for thyroid problems and is often the FIRST sign your thyroid is in trouble)
- Your hair is looking more thin and sparse
- You notice an increase in hair in your brush or when you take a bath/shower
- Your hair is not as thick as it used to be (you know it’s bad if your hairdresser comments about the thickness of your hair)
- The hair loss is diffuse across your entire head
- You also have additional symptoms of low thyroid (fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and so on)
I want to pay special attention to the first item on the list above.
Many women with thyroid problems experience hair loss on the outer one-third of their eyebrows (right around the tail).
This sign is very specific to thyroid problems and it can be used as an early warning sign that you have thyroid problems.
The main issue with this finding is that it can occur slowly over time and may be missed!
In addition, many women are used to tweezing their brows and they may accidentally hide this sign as they try to make their brows symmetrical.
I’ve also seen women who “hide” this problem with the use of microblading, microshading, and/or eyebrow tattoos.
It’s fine to do something about your eyebrows if you are self-conscious but do make sure you keep an eye on them.
The reason is, you can use your eyebrow hair growth as a marker for whether or not you are on the right track.
It’s a GREAT sign when you start to see your eyebrow hair grow back.
How to Grow your Hair Back
Okay, so let’s get into the specifics.
I mentioned previously that it can be difficult to figure out what is actually causing your hair loss and that’s because there are several things that matter to thyroid patients and no one else.
Let’s get into each of those:
#1. Thyroid hormone status.
The first and most obvious source of hair loss stems from the status of thyroid hormone in your body.
For most people, this will mean that you are NOT getting enough thyroid hormone.
If you don’t get enough then the hair in your hair follicles won’t grow, it’s quite simple.
This is also true for people who are taking thyroid medication.
If your dose of thyroid medication is too small then you will always be in a continual state of hair loss.
The key to fixing this problem is to simply adjust your dose (if you are taking thyroid medication).
Taking a higher dose of thyroid medication will increase thyroid hormone status and improve hair growth.
You should also be aware that an excessively HIGH dose of thyroid hormone can also cause hair loss as well.
This is unusual, but it does happen from time to time.
Both a hyperthyroid and a hypothyroid state, induced by thyroid medication, can trigger hair loss.
But as I mentioned, probably 98% of you reading this are not taking enough thyroid medication so you will need to increase your dose.
#2. Thyroid medications.
The next source of hair loss can stem from the very medication that you are taking to try and fix your thyroid hormone status.
That’s right! Thyroid medication ITSELF can cause hair loss regardless of the dose that you are taking.
It’s a side effect of ALL types of thyroid medications.
If you aren’t aware of this problem then you can continually adjust your dose up and down trying to fix the problem only to later find out that the problem is with the MEDICATION and not the dose.
But just because it CAN happen doesn’t mean that it ALWAYS happens.
There’s a big difference between those two.
The risk that your thyroid medication is causing your hair loss by itself is probably only around 2-5% (depending on the type of thyroid medication you are taking).
Some thyroid medications, like Cytomel, cause hair loss but it’s usually only temporary.
The good news is that even if your hair loss is caused by your thyroid medication you can easily solve this problem:
By simply switching to another brand of medication.
It’s not a hard fix but it’s often completely missed.
#3. Nutrient deficiencies
The next most important cause of hair loss in thyroid patients stems from nutrient deficiencies.
I’m not talking about ALL nutrients but instead a very important one:
Iron, more specifically ferritin, plays a HUGE role in hair growth.
And thyroid patients tend to have LOW iron (and ferritin) from absorption issues.
Ferritin is NOT the same thing as iron, but ferritin is related to iron.
When you test for ferritin you are checking for the amount of iron STORAGE in your body.
Testing for iron, on the other hand, tells you how much iron is in the bloodstream.
When it comes to hair growth, ferritin seems to matter more than your serum iron.
If you have ANY sort of thyroid problem make sure you check your ferritin level and take iron if you find that it is low!
But be sure not to take iron within 4 hours of taking your thyroid medication or it will inactive your medication and may cause more hair loss (back to problem #1).
How Long Does it Take Hair to Grow Back?
What about expectations? I’ve come to learn that people (women especially) are not too patient when it comes to hair regrowth.
And I don’t blame them one bit!
This is why you should be aware of what to expect when you are trying to grow your hair back.
You should know that it takes WEEKS to MONTHS to see improvement in your hair growth if you have any sort of thyroid condition.
In fact, the minimum amount of time it takes to see improvement is usually around 6 weeks.
And it’s usually around this time that you start to see baby hairs start to grow back.
Don’t expect to see significant improvement in the density of your hair for at least 4-6 months.
By 12 months, if you are on the right track, you should see a significant and dramatic improvement in your hair density and quality.
Your ponytail should be thicker, your hair should be shinier, your eyebrows should be back, and so on.
But this all assumes that what you are doing is the RIGHT therapy and the CORRECT treatment.
It’s certainly possible for you to make changes you think might be working but not see any progress at all for months.
This is part of the trial and error process, so don’t be discouraged.
Because it takes so long, you may want to make more than one change at a time to see if you can see improvement faster.
While your thyroid can absolutely take your hair away, you still have control to bring it back.
It won’t be easy, and the road may be long, but it’s absolutely possible.
When trying to grow your hair back make sure you do these two things:
#1. Remember that hair loss in thyroid patients is multifaceted.
And #2. Have the right expectations in terms of how long it will take to see improvement.
These two things will help keep you grounded and help you stay on the right path.
Now I want to hear from you:
Are you currently suffering from thyroid hair loss?
If so, what type of hair loss pattern do you see?
Do you think more than just your thyroid is involved in your hair loss?
What type of treatments have you tried? Have they worked for you? Why or why not?
Leave your comments or questions below!