How To Reverse Hair Loss From Medication

Tips to combat the side effects of various medicines and boost your overall hair health

Written by Anjali Sayee, BTech
Edited by Eshna Das, BA, MSc
Fact-checked by Monomita Chakraborty, MA (Journalism & Mass Communication), Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

If you have ever wondered whether it is possible to reverse hair loss from medications, the answer is ’yes.’ Some medications can lead to hair loss as they interfere with the normal hair growth cycle. However, it is a temporary phenomenon. Some of the drugs that may cause hair loss are antibiotics, anticlotting drugs, and cholesterol-lowering drugs, among others.

In this article, we look into how some medications result in hair fall, ways to reverse it, and more. Scroll down to know more.

How Medications Cause Hair Loss 

Medicines may cause hair loss by interfering with the hair growth cycle. Certain medications may:

  • Halt the proliferation of hair matrix cells, causing anagen
  • Cause the follicles to enter a premature telogen, leading to telogen effluvium (1).

In drug-induced anagen effluvium, you will notice hair loss within days or weeks of taking the drug. In telogen effluvium, hair loss becomes prominent after 2-4 months of taking the drug or starting treatment.

Out of these two, telogen effluvium is the most common drug-induced hair loss. The severity of your hair loss depends on the type of drug you are taking. Let’s find out what types of medicines may cause hair loss.

Types of Medication That Causes Hair Loss 

  • Vitamin A (Retinoids)

The intake of higher amounts of vitamin A supplements and medications may cause hair loss. Moreover, vitamin A derivatives like isotretinoin and tretinoin may also cause hair loss (2).

  • Antibiotics

Antibiotics may affect the metabolism of vitamin B12 and folic acid in the body (3). They may also affect the hemoglobin levels, leading to anemia and hair loss. Low levels of vitamin B 12 also interfere with normal hair growth (4).

  • Antifungals

Antifungal medications like voriconazole have been linked to alopecia related hair loss (5).

  • Blood Thinners

Anticoagulants like heparin and warfarin may induce alopecia and hair loss (6). These medications are generally administered to those who have cardiovascular issues to prevent blood clots.

  • Immunosuppressants

Medications that are used to treat autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis may also cause hair loss. A high dose of immunosuppressants, like methotrexate was found to trigger hair loss (7). However, enough research is lacking in this regard.

In most cases, hair loss is temporary. Here are a few things you can do to prevent drug-induced hair loss.

How To Reverse Hair Loss Caused Due To Medication

  • Healthy Diet And Supplements

Following a balanced and healthy diet is a great way to support healthy hair growth. Include omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and antioxidants in your diet to aid hair regrowth (8).

Nutrient deficiencies, including a lack of iron, zinc, biotin, folic acid, and vitamins A and E, may also cause hair loss (9). Talk to a dietitian or nutritionist for a balanced diet chart or consult a doctor for vitamin supplements.

  • Apply Minoxidil

Topical minoxidil is used to treat alopecia and baldness (10). You may start seeing the results in 3-6 months. However, do not use it unless prescribed as topical minoxidil may irritate the scalp if not used properly.

A blogger shared her experience of applying minoxidil to her scalp for a couple of weeks. She took biotin supplements and massaged minoxidil 3% on her scalp twice a day. She wrote, “Over these last couple of weeks, I’ve observed that my hair loss problem has not exactly ceased; I still shed like a Labrador. However, there appears to be significant hair regrowth on my scalp. My hair is also becoming thicker, to my surprise (i).”

David Carvalhão, another blogger, was almost bald by the time he was 25. He was diagnosed with alopecia and applied minoxidil 5% solution to his scalp along with consuming multivitamins. He mentioned, “When I started also using Minoxidil plus vitamins, I saw a very noticeable difference after 6 weeks of use. My hair looked stronger and I could see new hair growth in areas where I hadn’t seen any for years (ii).”

protip_icon Quick Tip
Let the minoxidil dry for 2-4 hours after application, including before bedtime. If it is not fully dry, it may stain clothing, hats, or bed sheets.

  • Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil reduces the effects of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, a major contributor to hair loss (11). A study done in 2014 found that regular use of pumpkin seed oil over 24 weeks increased hair count by 40% (12).

  • Accessories And Wigs 

While the hair is still growing, you can use accessories like scarves, caps, and wigs to cover your head.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can wear a nylon or mesh wig cap liner to keep your wig clean. This liner creates a barrier between the wig and oils on your scalp and also ensures a comfortable fit.[/sc_protip

When To Consult A Doctor

Before starting a medication or treatment, ask your doctor about various side effects. Discuss the ways to minimize drug-induced hair loss with them. If you are losing hair at an alarming rate, do not stop taking the medicines without consulting your doctor. Ask for any alternatives.

Some medications may cause hair loss by disrupting the hair development cycle. However, do not worry, as drug-induced hair loss can be reversed. Talking to a healthcare practitioner as soon as you see the first signs of hair loss can help you identify the actual reason. The solutions may include changing the type of medication, using recommended treatments to decrease or reverse hair loss, or consuming a healthy diet. Within 3-4 months of discontinuing the medicine, most people begin to feel better. Also, maintain a healthy lifestyle and hair care regimen while on medication. This could also assist in reducing the effect.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is hair loss from antidepressants permanent?

No, hair loss from antidepressants is not permanent. Your hair will stop falling out once you stop taking the medications.

How do I stop medication-induced hair loss?

You may have to discontinue the medication or consult a doctor for medication-induced hair loss.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Drug-induced hair loss and hair growth. Incidence, management and avoidance
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8018303/
  2. Drug-Induced Hair Loss and Hair Growth
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00002018-199410040-00005
  3. Drugs producing vitamin deficiencies
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7211625/
  4. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
  5. Alopecia and nail changes associated with voriconazole therapy
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24855150/
  6. Traditional Anticoagulants and Hair Loss: A Role for Direct Oral Anticoagulants? A Review of the Literature
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819463/
  7. The influence of methotrexate on hair loss while using immunomodulatory doses
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30830893/
  8. Effect of a nutritional supplement on hair loss in women
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25573272/
  9. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/
  10. Minoxidil: mechanisms of action on hair growth
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14996087/
  11. Beneficial effects of pumpkin seed oil as a topical hair growth promoting agent in a mice model
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6823528/
  12. Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017725/
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