Autoimmune diseases are a family of more than 80 conditions that can impact health and hair in a variety of ways. They affect over 24 million Americans, and nearly 80% of these patients are women.
Keep reading to uncover which of these diseases are most often associated with hair loss, the connection between autoimmune diseases and hair loss and what you can do right now to help support thicker, fuller, healthier hair.
A number of infectious agents and infection-related conditions can contribute to hair loss. Some common ones are described here.
Surprisingly, ringworm has nothing to do with worms, but is a fungal infection that can occur anywhere on the body. If it develops on the scalp, it can cause patches of hair loss and is known to doctors as “tinea capitis.” Ringworm is the same thing as athlete’s foot, and the same kind of fungal infection that can affect the nails too.
Treatment for ringworm varies depending on the particular fungus involved. Some types of ringworm infection will go away spontaneously and no treatment is given. However, most commonly, griseofulvin, an anti-fungal, is used. Griseofulvin is very effective against fungi in hairand skin but it is not so good at treating yeast or bacterial infections. The drug gradually accumulates in the skin and hair. It especially likes to bind with keratin, which is a key component of hair, skin, and nails, and blocks the fungus from infecting the keratin. More recently, some fungi that cause tinea capitis show some resistance to the drug, which means higher doses and longer courses of treatment. As an alternative to griseofulvin, newer anti-fungal drugs like terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole can be prescribed.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure and low blood pressure – both are increasingly common medical conditions nowadays. While both lead to health complications, high blood pressure is linked to hair loss. Better known as hypertension, it’s a common disease that is caused by the tightening of tiny arteries called arterioles.
Dermatologists state that if you are seeing a lot of broken hair while taking a bath or combing along with other symptoms, it could be a sign of an increased risk of hypertension. Higher levels of testosterone and other hormones are also causes of high blood pressure-related hair loss.
Quick medical attention is advised to safely recover from this condition that also causes hair loss
Another disease that causes hair loss in men and women. Lupus is an autoimmune illness in which your body’s immune system progresses towards being hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. In other words, our immune system is not able to differentiate between unwanted substances, antigens, and healthy tissues.
Although it majorly affects women, men have also reported encountering this hair loss disease in recent decades. Currently, there is no cure for this autoimmune disease. However, people can handle lupus flares and symptoms by adjusting their lifestyle and seeking medical support.
Psoriasis is another common autoimmune condition that affects the skin — and sometimes the scalp — of millions of people in America. With psoriasis, the immune system causes skin cells to turn over too quickly, which causes itchy, scaly and inflamed patches on the skin known as plaques. The American Academy of Dermatology Association estimates that about 50% of those who experience plaque psoriasis will have a flare-up on the scalp.
When these plaques happen on the scalp, they can lead to hair loss in the affected areas. Generally, scalp psoriasis is non-scarring, which means follicles aren’t permanently damaged, and hair can regrow. In severe cases, however, scalp psoriasis can cause scarring and permanent hair loss. Some people might also experience hair loss due to psoriasis medications.
Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease, are still not fully understood, nor is the connection between IBD and hair loss.
Regardless, research shows that the immune system is involved in the mediation of inflammatory bowel diseases, and this might be one way IBD can contribute to hair loss. Often, immunosuppressant medications are given to help manage IBDs, and these might also contribute to hair loss. Also, people who are dealing with inflammatory bowel diseases often have trouble absorbing adequate vitamins and minerals, so dietary deficiencies might also cause hair loss. And then there’s stress. Stress and IBD are often joined at the hip, and stress can have some pretty major impacts on our follicles, too.
Over 60 years of research shows that there is a correlation between heart diseases and hair loss. Early onset of male pattern hair loss is a risk factor for an early onset of severe coronary heart disease. For example, men who experience hair loss in the age group of between 55 to 60 have an almost 44% chance of contracting heart disease. Similarly, women who experience hair loss before the age of 50 have an 84% chance. The link between male baldness and heart disease is still unclear. But many experts have stipulated that it may be related to an increase in male hormones i.e DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Therefore, increased hormones also leads to high blood pressure.
We know what you are thinking. “Doesn’t rheumatoid arthritis affect joints?” Yes, you are right but in some cases, it disrupts other bodily functions as well. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks body tissues and joints. This autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disease could also impact other parts of the body including skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and human hair follicles. Some scientists say that RA medications also trigger hair loss in men and women. Seek quick medical attention to recover from this disease.
Yes, you read it right. Depression can cause hair loss in men and women. Although it directly impacts emotional and mental well-being by disrupting hormonal balance, physical symptoms like fatigue, aches, pains, and digestive problems can also manifest. Hair loss is also another symptom of depression. Depression could trigger three different types of hair loss: telogen effluvium, hair-pulling disorder, and alopecia areata (the autoimmune disease we talked about earlier). We suggest seeking medical and mental health support if your hair problem is getting worse over time. Certified professionals are able to lend support through emotional discomfort and adopt self-care practices that can help overcome this disease.