According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1% to 2% of the U.S. population has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It occurs more often in women than in men and is the most common cause of underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, in the U.S. Hair loss is, for many, one of the most distressing symptoms of thyroid disorders and may be challenging to treat if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as autoimmune thyroid disease, can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. According to the American Thyroid Association, it is an autoimmune disorder that causes long-term inflammation of the thyroid. Over time, the thyroid gland struggles to produce enough thyroid hormones, which leads to a slow or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs most commonly in middle-aged women, but it can appear at any age and sometimes affects men and children.
Thyroid and Hair Loss
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the lower front of your neck. Your thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into your bloodstream and carried to every tissue in your body, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
According to the British Thyroid Foundation, prolonged hypothyroidism can cause hair loss. Abnormal thyroid function disturbs your hair regrowth cycle. Thyroid-related hair loss involves your entire scalp rather than specific patches of hair loss. Your hair will appear thin and sparse all over. Hair regrowth is possible once treatment is given and hormone levels are normalized.
Since Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that can affect your entire body, many of its symptoms can be difficult to reverse.
“A recent study showed that the most common persistent symptom of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis was hair loss,” Alexander Lightstone Borsand, MD, ABLM, board-certified lifestyle medicine physician in Scottsdale, Ariz., tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Having one autoimmune disorder also increases your risk of having others, including alopecia areata and celiac disease, which can also both lead to hair loss. A 2020 report published in the Journal of Nutritional Medicine and Diet Care highlighted that hair loss caused by alopecia areata has been shown to improve on an anti-inflammatory diet rich in probiotics. According to Beyond Celiac, hair loss caused by celiac improves on a gluten-free and iron-rich diet.
Since there is a strong association between Hashimoto’s, alopecia areata and celiac disease, a gluten-free, probiotic-enhanced, iron-rich diet may help promote hair regrowth in some Hashimoto’s patients.
If you have Hashimoto’s, there are other steps you can take to promote hair regrowth and potentially prevent further hair loss.
“When treating hair loss of any cause, I promote the use of biotin, topical minoxidil and platelet-rich plasma injections to the scalp,” Borsand says.
The Earlier You Treat Hair Loss, The Better.
The earlier you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to avoid irreversible damage. Get the answers you need to start treatment today.