Hormones play a role in some cases of hair loss. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a derivative of testosterone that’s responsible for male and some cases of female pattern baldness. While DHT might be behind plenty of cases of hair loss, it’s not the only hormone that can wreak havoc on your scalp.
In some cases, your thinning hair can be due to an issue with your thyroid. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located by your trachea, in the lower part of the neck. As a gland, the role of the thyroid is to produce hormones. These hormones play a number of important roles in your body, from regulating your temperature to helping your cells divide.
Collectively, the hormones produced by the thyroid are known as thyroid hormone. Individually, these hormones are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Under normal circumstances, your pituitary gland regulates the amount of thyroid hormone produced based on the amount of each hormone it detects in your bloodstream.
When there’s an issue with your thyroid gland, the pituitary is unable to read the amount of T3 or T4 in your blood, causing it to underproduce or overproduce hormones.
Over or Underactive Thyroid
An underactive thyroid is a fairly common problem in the US. It’s particularly common among women, particularly women over the age of 60. A number of factors can lead to hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, including an insufficient amount of iodine in the diet. Certain autoimmune disorders, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, can also cause the condition.
Having hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can also lead to hypothyroidism. The treatment for hyperthyroidism often involves medications that reduce the function of the gland, or in the case of radioactive iodine, destroy the function of the gland.
The symptoms vary based on whether your thyroid is over or underactive. In many cases, the symptoms related to an overactive thyroid gland are the opposite of the symptoms of an underactive gland. For example, unexplained weight loss is often a symptom of hyperthyroidism while unexplained weight gain is usually a symptom of hypothyroidism. If your thyroid is producing too much T4, you’re likely to feel too warm and your heart rate can increase. If your thyroid isn’t producing enough T3 or T4, you’ll feel unusually cold and may have a slower heart rate.
One symptom the two conditions have in common is hair loss or other changes to the hair. Thyroid problems can lead to thinning hair, can make the hair feel dry or brittle, and can lead to premature graying of the hair.
Your hair quality can also change due to hormone imbalances. For example, curly hair might become straight or you may have trouble getting your hair to hold a perm or curl. Thyroid hormone issues affect the hair all over your body, not only on your scalp. That means you might notice hair loss from your eyebrows or armpits, too. One very common sign that the hair loss is due to a thyroid issue is when you lose hair from the outer edge of your eyebrows.
Treating Hair Loss
While a hair transplant can be an effective way to treat hair loss related to DHT, it’s not typically used to treat hair loss related to a thyroid disease. That’s because, for the most part, your hair will begin growing back once you begin treatment for the thyroid issue.
If your hair loss is due to an underactive thyroid, your doctor might prescribe a synthetic hormone, such as Synthroid, which will raise your hormone levels. Getting the right dose of synthetic hormone requires a bit of trial and error. Your doctor might adjust your dose if your gland doesn’t respond after some time.
If your problem is an overactive gland, you may be given medications that reduce thyroid function or a course of radioactive iodine, which also slows down your thyroid. Depending on how gland responds, you may then need to take synthetic hormones to make up for the hormones your thyroid is no longer producing.
Diagnosing the cause of your hair loss is a crucial first step when it comes to figuring out the best way to treat it. To learn more about hair loss and your options for treatment, contact Dr. Jeffrey Epstein at the Foundation for Hair Restoration in New York and Miami. Call (305) 666-1774 for an appointment at the Miami office or (212) 759-3484 to schedule an appointment at the New York office.