Many prescription and some over-the-counter medications can cause hair loss as a side effect. Supplements, topical applications, and changing medications may help to resolve hair loss.
Taking certain drugs can act as a trigger for hair loss. When this occurs, it is often known as drug-induced hair loss. Hair loss as a result of medications is often temporary. This means typically, normal hair growth will resume when people stop taking the drug. In rare cases, however, people can experience permanent hair loss.
Most hair loss that occurs from medication is known as telogen effluvium. This refers to hair in the resting, or telogen, phase. However, other drugs, such as some chemotherapy drugs, can cause hair loss by affecting hairs during the anagen, or growing, phase, which is known as anagen effluvium.
In most cases, drug-induced hair loss is a self-limited condition. This means that hair loss from medication usually ceases once people stop taking the medication. However, it is vital to consult a doctor before stopping a drug, even if it is causing hair loss.
Hair loss that occurs during the telogen phase usually resolves within 6–9 months after ceasing the medication. This is due to the normal length of the telogen phase being between 3–6 months. However, depending on the length of hair, it may take several months for the overall hair volume to gradually return to normal.
For hair loss that occurs during the anagen phase, such as from cancer treatment, hair may grow back in
If stopping or switching medication is not an option, people may be able to slow the rate or hair loss or help reverse hair loss using home remedies and natural solutions.
Diet and supplements
Evidence notes that vitamin and mineral supplementation can help to improve symptoms of hair loss. This is because vitamins and mineral are important for normal cell growth and function. As such, low levels may contribute to hair loss.
People can get a blood test to check for deficiencies that can contribute to hair loss,
People who have a deficiency can take a supplement to boost levels, which may help hair to grow back. Additionally, they can also consume foods rich in these vitamins and minerals as part of their normal dietary plan.
Minoxidil topical solution
People can buy minoxidil, or Rogaine, over the counter (OTC) and apply it topically to the scalp.
A scalp enzyme, known as sulfotransferase,
Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil may reduce the effects of 5-alpha reductase, which is an enzyme that contributes to hair loss.
If people are not seeing results from home and natural remedies after a few months, they can discuss other options with their doctor.
According to a 2023 article, the following classes of drugs may relate to hair loss:
- monoclonal antibodies, such as adalimumab
- epidermal growth factor inhibitors, such as lapatinib
- sonic hedgehog pathway inhibitors, such as sonidegib
- CDK 4/6 inhibitors, such as abemaciclib
- BRAF kinase inhibitors, such as dabrafenib
- DMARDs, such as leflunomide
- immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as ipilimumab
- hormone therapies, such as exemestane
- anti-viral agents, such as tenofovir
- antineoplastic drugs, such as carboplatin
- antipsychotics, such as lithium
- tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as pazopanib
- antidepressants, such as imipramine
- RANK ligand inhibitors, such as denosumab
- retinoids, such as isotretinoin
Read on to learn more about drugs that can cause hair loss.
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.
Some FAQs about drug-induced hair loss may include:
Can you reverse hair loss from medication?
Yes, it is possible to reverse hair loss that occurs due to medications. In most cases, hair growth will resume after ceasing the medication that is causing hair loss.
How to prevent hair loss from drugs?
It may not always be possible to prevent hair loss from drugs. A person may wish to discuss if other other medication options are available with their doctor.
How long does drug-induced hair loss last?
The duration of drug-induced hair loss can vary, depending on the drug and type of hair loss it causes. In most cases, hair should grow back within roughly 6 months after stopping treatment.
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.