Medications and drugs often interfere with the normal hair cycle and induce hair loss. One such drug is gabapentin, a type of anticonvulsant. However, drug-induced hair loss is reversible, and the hair usually grows back when you stop taking the medications. In this article, we discussed how gabapentin causes hair loss, ways to reverse it, and other side effects of the drug. Keep scrolling to learn more.
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin (GBP) is an antiepileptic drug. It is used to treat seizures and neuropathic pain. It is structurally similar to gamma‐aminobutyric acid or GABA, a neurotransmitter (1), (2). This medicine works on the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain. However, the exact mechanism of this drug is yet unknown. The U.S. FDA approves gabapentin for treating conditions like (3):
- Partial seizures
- Nerve pain
- Spinal cord injury
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Restless legs syndrome
It is available as either generic medication or branded as Neurontin and Gralise(3). Like several other medications, gabapentin also has some side effects, and one of them is hair loss.
Does Gabapentin Cause Hair Loss?
Yes. A few studies indicate that gabapentin may cause hair loss. However, further research is required to establish if it is a widespread side effect. Although alopecia is an occasional side effect of antiepileptic agents, there are only two cases reported for gabapentin.
A case study involving a 28-year-old woman found that gabapentin induced significant hair loss. The woman reported hair loss after a week of taking 1800 mg/day dose of gabapentin (2).
However, further case studies are required to determine the extent of hair loss induced by gabapentin. Like any other drug-induced hair loss, gabapentin-induced hair loss is also reversible.
Does Hair Grow Back After Stopping Gabapentin?
Yes. It is likely that once you stop taking the drug, hair growth may resume.
There are only two instances where the researchers indicated that gabapentin-induced hair growth could resume once the medication is discontinued. On the contrary, another review suggests that gabapentin may lead to permanent hair loss (1). The manufacturing company does not list this long-term side effect.
None of the studies are conclusive, and further research is needed to verify whether or not gabapentin-induced hair loss is reversible.
Gabapentin usage may also cause other side effects. Scroll down to learn more.
What Are The Other Side Effects Of Gabapentin?
According to the fact sheet provided by the FDA, some of the common side effects of gabapentin are (3):
- Blurry or double vision
- Coordination and concentration issues
- Swelling of the hands, legs, and feet
- Fatigue (2)
- Nausea and vomiting (2)
FDA also warns about some severe side effects of gabapentin if taken with other medications like opioids or drugs that suppress the CNS (3). The side effects include:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Unusual dizziness or lightheadedness
- Extreme sleepiness
- Bluish-colored or tinted skin, especially on the lips, fingers, and toes
If you are taking gabapentin and are experiencing any of the side effects, consult your doctor immediately.
In A Nutshell
Gabapentin is an FDA-approved and prescription drug for treating various nerve disorders, ranging from epilepsy to neuropathic pain. A few studies indicate a possible connection between gabapentin and hair loss, but further studies are required to validate the link. However, this potent drug can cause severe side effects, and its usage is strictly monitored by a doctor.
- Gabapentin: An update of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic use in epilepsy
- Alopecia Associated with Gabapentin in the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain
- FDA warns about serious breathing problems with seizure and nerve pain medicines gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant) and pregabalin (Lyrica, Lyrica CR)
- A Postmarketing Surveillance Study of Gabapentin as Add‐on Therapy for 3,100 Patients in England
- Gabapentin-related suicide: Myth or fact?