Do Steroids Cause Hair Loss?
While steroids are often associated with athletes and bodybuilders, they also have practical medical uses as well. Doctors will prescribe steroids for certain medical conditions if appropriate. Some patients are wary of taking them due to possible side effects, such as hair loss.
Read on to find out more about possible steroid-induced hair loss, and find out about the best products to combat thinning hair naturally.
When we talk about steroids as a general medication family, there are two types: Anabolic steroids and corticosteroids.
Corticosteroids are a type of prescription medication to reduce inflammation. If you've ever had a really severe reaction to an insect sting, you might be prescribed a corticosteroid to bring down the swelling. Hydrocortisone cream is an example of a topical steroid used for reactions like rashes, welts and hives.
Doctors also prescribe corticosteroids to suppress the immune system. They may be given to patients to treat conditions like:
- Atopic eczema
- Hay fever
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
Prednisone is a corticosteroid that doctors prescribe for conditions like asthma, allergies and inflammatory bowel syndrome. One of its side effects can be hair loss. However, it can also help hair regrow in certain instances.
Anabolic steroids are drugs that mimic natural hormones that the body produces. They are often prescribed for hormone imbalances or to treat diseases where the loss of muscle mass is a symptom. They are also sometimes used by athletes illegally to bulk up their muscle mass because they mimic testosterone.
How Steroids Affect Hair
"Both anabolic and corticosteroids have been linked to hair loss, and in some cases, this hair loss can be permanent," said Dr. Harikiran Chekuri, a hair transplant surgeon. "There are a few different mechanisms by which steroids can cause hair loss. First, steroids can interfere with the production of new hair cells. Second, steroids can cause the death of existing hair follicles. And finally, steroids can increase the production of hormones that are involved in hair loss."
The good news is that these effects usually are not permanent. "Even if steroids do cause hair loss, it is often temporary, and the hair will grow back once you stop taking them," Dr. Chekuri said.
Related: These 12 Medications Might Cause Hair Loss
More About Anabolic Steroids and Hair
Male pattern baldness is generally caused by hormonal changes that occur in men as they age. It results from higher levels of dihydrotestosterone or DHT in the body. DHT is a hormone that can attach itself to hair follicles, shrinking them and shortening the hair's growth cycle.
There are several anabolic steroids on the market that have the side effect of raising DHT levels in the body. When taking anabolic steroids, those who are more sensitive to elevated DHT levels (those prone to male pattern baldness) will likely experience hair loss as a result.
Men who are prone to male pattern baldness should avoid the following anabolic steroids as they reportedly cause hair loss:
In women, anabolic steroids can increase body hair and cause a loss of scalp hair simultaneously. With long-term use, hair loss can become irreversible.
More About Corticosteroids and Hair
In certain cases, corticosteroids can be used as a hair loss treatment for people who have extensive alopecia areata, which is a hair loss that is caused by an autoimmune disease. Extensive alopecia areata occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing them to weaken and shed hair. Once hair follicles are damaged, it's harder for them to produce healthy strands of hair. Medications like Prednisone can help with hair loss caused by alopecia areata.
Other Side Effects of Steroids
In addition to potential hair loss, anabolic steroids have some other worrisome side effects, including:
- Mood swings
- Liver damage
- High blood pressure
- Infertility and impotence
- Erectile dysfunction
There's also an increased risk for:
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Some cancers
Corticosteroids are safe when taken in moderation and prescribed by a doctor, but if taken in excess, they also have some side effects to be aware of, such as:
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Mood swings and mood changes
- Skin thinning
- Muscle weakness
- Delayed wound healing
- High blood pressure
- Glaucoma and cataracts
- Stomach ulcers
- Depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation
Protecting Your Hair from Steroids
If you're experiencing hair thinning and you believe it might be related to the corticosteroids or anabolic steroids you're using, the first thing you should do is contact your health care provider for help.
For men or women who are experiencing male or female pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, there are treatment options available. DHT blockers like finasteride are often prescribed to help regrow hair. Other medications, like topical minoxidil, are often prescribed by doctors because they are believed to increase blood flow and stimulate hair growth. However, prescription hair loss drugs and treatments can come with unpleasant side effects.
How to Combat Thinning Hair Naturally
If you're hoping to combat thinning hair without the use of drugs, there are more natural options available. Nurturing the entire hair biome is the most effective way to help combat hair loss, in addition to adjusting problematic medications with your health care provider.
Treat Hair Gently
First and foremost, treat your hair with care. Avoid tight hairstyles, avoid using heated appliances and wash your hair with gentle, nurturing hair products.
While hair loss can be stressful, find ways to keep stress levels from escalating. Suggestions include exercising, spending time with loved ones or meditating.
Use a Hair Serum
VEGAMOUR GRO Hair Serum has a combination of clinically-tested phyto-actives that work together to support a healthy and balanced follicular ecosystem while simultaneously nurturing the scalp and revitalizing your hair follicles to encourage thicker, fuller-looking hair. It contains no known toxins, and it's also cruelty-free and 100% vegan. This serum can help reestablish balance in your hair biome if the medications you're on have thrown it out of whack.
Knowledge Is Power
If your doctor prescribes steroids for you, discuss the possible side effects, including hair loss. Remember, corticosteroids and steroids should be prescribed by a medical doctor and only for specific reasons.
And if you do experience hair fall — whether it's steroid-related or not — keep in mind that there are natural and effective ways to combat hair loss without unwanted side effects.
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