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In April 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that all forms of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) ranitidine (Zantac) be removed from the U.S. market. They made this recommendation because unacceptable levels of NDMA, a probable carcinogen (or cancer-causing chemical), were present in some ranitidine products. People taking prescription ranitidine should talk with their doctor about safe alternative options before stopping the drug. People taking OTC ranitidine should stop taking the drug and talk with their healthcare provider about alternative options. Instead of taking unused ranitidine products to a drug take-back site, a person should dispose of them according to the product’s instructions or by following the FDA’s guidance.
Many prescription and some over-the-counter medications can cause hair loss as a side effect.
Hair loss as a result of medications is often temporary, meaning normal hair growth will resume when people stop taking the drug. In rare cases, however, people can experience permanent hair loss.
Here we look at the types of medications that can cause hair loss and the options for avoiding or reversing drug-induced hair loss.
Hair loss from medication usually ceases once people stop taking the medication. However, it is vital to speak to a doctor before stopping a drug, even if it is causing hair loss.
Once a person has ceased the medication, hair can take up to 6 months to grow back.
Some people may notice hair growth within 3–6 months, but it may take 12–18 months for the hair to return to normal.
People may be able to help reverse hair loss using home remedies and natural solutions.
Diet and supplements
A 2015 study looked at the effect of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidant supplementation on hair growth in 120 healthy females.
After 6 months, the researchers found that almost 90% of the participants who took the supplements saw reduced hair loss, as well as increased thickness of their hair.
If a person has a deficiency in specific nutrients, it can affect hair growth.
People can get a blood test to check for deficiencies that can contribute to hair loss, such as:
People who have a deficiency can take a supplement to boost levels, which may help hair to grow back.
Minoxidil topical solution
People can buy minoxidil, or Rogaine, over the counter (OTC) and apply it topically to the scalp.
People using minoxidil may start to see their hair growing back within 3–6 months.
People can speak to a pharmacist about minoxidil or purchase it online.
Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil may reduce the effects of 5-alpha reductase, which is an enzyme that contributes to hair loss.
The authors of a 2014 study looked at the effects of pumpkin seed oil in 76 males with hair loss. After 24 weeks, those who took 400 milligrams (mg) of pumpkin seed oil every day had a 40% increase in hair count, compared to 10% in those taking a placebo.
Pumpkin seed oil is available in health food stores and online.
If people are not seeing results from home and natural remedies after a few months, they can talk to their doctor to discuss other options.
Drugs that can cause hair loss include:
Blood thinners, or anticoagulants, can cause hair loss. These include heparin injections and warfarin sodium, which includes the branded drugs:
Statins, which are drugs that lower cholesterol, can cause hair loss. These include:
- Atromid-S (clofibrate)
- Lopid (gemfibrozil)
Antidepressants that can cause hair loss include:
- Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride)
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride)
- Tofranil (imipramine)
- Janimine (imipramine)
- Anafranil (clomipramine)
The amphetamine drug Adderall lists alopecia as one of the side effects people may experience.
Allopurinol is a drug that doctors prescribe to lower uric acid levels in people with gout. Brand names of allopurinol include:
Beta-blockers for glaucoma
- Timoptic ocudose
- Timoptic eye drops
- Timoptic XC
Beta-blockers for high blood pressure
People taking beta-blockers as a treatment for high blood pressure may experience hair loss as a side effect.
These drugs include:
- Tenormin (atenolol)
- Corgard (nadolol)
- Lopressor (metoprolol)
- Blocadren (timolol)
- Inderal or Inderal LA (propranolol)
Hormonal medications can treat many different conditions, but can also contribute to hair loss in both males and females.
These drugs include:
- birth control pills
- estrogen or progesterone hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- androgenic hormones
- steroids, including prednisone and anabolic steroids
Some anti-inflammatory drugs that can cause hair loss include:
- Naprosyn (naproxen)
- Anaprox (naproxen)
- Clinoril (sulindac)
- Indocin (indomethacin)
Some drugs target all cells indiscriminately, which means it can affect the cells that produce new hair.
Antirheumatic drugs that may cause hair loss include:
- Methotrexate, which causes hair loss in 1–3% of users
- Arava (leflunomide), which causes hair loss in roughly 10% of people who take it
Parkinson’s disease drugs
The drug Levodopa or L-dopa can cause hair loss.
Stomach disorder drugs
Drugs to treat stomach ulcers and digestive issues may cause hair loss. These medications include:
- Tagamet (cimetidine)
- Pepcid (famotidine)
Other medications that can cause hair loss include:
When discussing medications with a doctor, people may want to ask some of the following:
- What side effects could the new medication have?
- Will the new medication have any effect on hair growth?
- Is there an alternative medication that does not cause hair loss?
- Could there be any other cause for the hair loss?
A doctor may also be able to tell people whether their hair will start to grow back by itself or whether they will need treatment for hair loss.
If people are taking medications that are causing hair loss, they can see their doctor about switching to an alternative. Once people stop taking the medication, they may start to see hair growing back within 6 months.
In most cases, hair will grow back by itself once a person stops taking the medication. People may be able to help hair growth with at-home treatments.
If people are seeing no signs of regrowth after 6 months, they can discuss other treatment options with their doctor.
People should also speak to a doctor to determine whether another underlying issue may be causing hair loss.