Bad Hair Day? Blame It on Your Medicine
to beta blockers, we reveal the pills that can make your hair go
curly, fall out or even change colour!
on top? Or is your hair losing its colour? Your medication could
be to blame.
Drugs for blood
pressure, acne, depression even common painkillers
can lead to hair loss, according to a report by scientists at the
University of Melbourne. And other drugs can turn a brunette into
a redhead, or make straight hair curly.
Hair loss or
thinning can occur up to a year after taking medication but, thankfully,
in most cases, hair loss or any other changes are reversible.
it is important that patients see their GP if they notice any unusual
hair loss (do not stop taking any medication without seeing your
They can be
switched to other drugs, if appropriate, or the dose can be reduced.
In other cases, patients can be reassured the effects are unlikely
to be permanent.
of hair loss or change is often unknown, but you must always consider
the effects of drugs, says Professor Sam Shuster, emeritus
professor of dermatology at Newcastle University.
drugs do affect the hair, the change is usually mild and reverses
when the drug is stopped. So you may want to tolerate the change,
because of the important effect the drug is having in restoring
known, for instance, that chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells,
but also attack other fast-growing cells in the body, such as hair
This is why
patients can start to lose their hair within two to three weeks
of starting treatment.
The drugs can
also affect texture and shade, research shows, but hair should re-grow
three to ten months after treatment has ended.
In many cases,
medications are thought to affect hair by interfering with its growth
cycle, which has three distinct stages. In the growing period, which
lasts between three and five years on the scalp, hair grows by around
1cm a month.
followed by a shorter, two-week stage, known as the intermediate
phase, where the hair follicle is prepared for releasing the hair.
In the final,
three-month phase the telogen phase or resting
phase the hair stops growing and eventually falls out.
months, the follicle starts to grow a new hair. Fortunately, this
happens randomly all over the scalp. If it didnt, the hair
would be shed in clumps.
Here we reveal
the drugs that may be causing your hair to change. . .
used for epilepsy and other disorders such as migraine have been
linked to hair loss and they may even make hair curly.
One of the
drugs, sodium valproate, has been reported in various studies to
cause hair loss in between 3 and 10 per cent of patients.
In one of the
latest studies, which involved more than 200 patients at Razi Hospital
in Iran, 3.5 per cent of patients given sodium valproate experienced
hair loss or curling.
found hair loss in 7 per cent of patients receiv- ing divalproex,
a combination of sodium valproate and valproic acid.
can trigger hair to fall out prematurely in the resting phase of
the hair growth cycle.
lasts three months, with the hair naturally shedding at the end
of this time, but for some reason antidepressants seem to make hair
fall out at the beginning of this phase instead.
better known as Prozac is the most commonly reported
antidepressant to cause hair loss, according to the Melbourne researchers.
The team say
increased hair loss occurs up to one year after the start of medication
and stops when therapy ends.
which include imipramine, amitriptyline and doxepin, may occasionally
cause hair loss, found the Australian study, which is due to be
published in the journal Dermatologic Clinics.
with this problem should not panic. This type of hair loss
is reversible, says Professor Shuster.
The drug lithium,
commonly used to treat bipolar disorder, is linked to a 12 per cent
risk of hair thinning, according to some studies. This usually occurs
four to six months after starting the medication.
Shuster cautions that patients should never stop taking the drugs
without consulting their GP.
of a few hairs is trivial compared with the loss of your mental
health, he says.
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© 2012 Daily