Steroids are used to treat various conditions but they are also known to cause some side effects. Hence the use of steroids is decided only when the benefits are more necessary to treat the condition. However, this may come with a price, which could be damage to your hair.
Studies have shown that several drugs can interfere with the hair growth cycle and cause hair loss.1 The use of certain types of steroids can cause damage to your hair and also result in hair loss.
Can Steroid Cause Hair Loss?
As many drugs affect hair growth, steroids too can cause hair loss, although the severity and pattern may vary from person to person. So, the answer to the question of, can steroid cause hair loss depends on various factors like the type of steroids used, other medical conditions and medications, or the genetic hair growth patterns of the person.
Steroids can be mainly corticosteroids or anabolic steroids. While corticosteroids are used to treat ailments like inflammatory disorders of the skin, eyes, blood, allergies, and arthritis, anabolic steroids can affect the androgens.
Medications can affect hair growth in many ways. One way is the abrupt cessation of hair growth termed anagen effluvium, which is noticeable within a few days or weeks after starting the medication. The other way is by advancing the hair follicles into rest, which is termed telogen effluvium, which may be noticeable after a few months of starting the treatment.1
Steroids can cause hair loss in some patients depending on the dosage and duration of their treatment while in some it may only result in hair fall or other hair abnormalities. The duration of these problems also varies and in most cases, hair loss may gradually reduce once the steroid therapy is stopped, particularly if it is of shorter duration.
Steroids that increase testosterone can act on the hair follicles and result in hair loss. Men who have a genetic predisposition to baldness may also be affected more in some cases. Steroids that affect sex hormones can also harm the growth of hair and can result in hair loss.
It is interesting to know that certain types of steroids are also used in the treatment of hair loss conditions like alopecia areata or hair problems in Lupus (SLE). While this is an autoimmune condition, where the immune system attacks its cells. Hence, in this case, steroids work by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation. This stops the immune attack on hair follicles and helps maintain their hair health.
Thus, the use of steroids for treating a particular ailment, the type of steroid, and how steroids can affect hair growth is best decided by the treating physician. Not all types of steroids cause the same effect or side effects. While many can have an impact on hair growth, some may be used as a treatment for hair loss. But the outcomes too vary, hence seeking medical advice for any treatment is the best thing to do.
If you note hair loss while you are on a particular treatment, especially steroid therapy, let your doctor know about it. Considering the amount and pattern of hair loss your doctor may suggest changes in the existing treatment or any other additional treatment for hair growth.
Will Hair Loss From Steroids Grow Back?
While steroid treatment can result in hair loss, the next question that comes to your mind is will hair loss from steroids grow back? If the steroids are stopped or once the treatment is over, will the hair start growing back?
Well, that too depends on several factors that affect hair growth, a person’s health condition, and other ongoing medications. It is possible that continued, long-term intake of steroids can greatly affect the hair and can cause permanency damage too.
Studies have reported that glucocorticoids can block hair growth. In a study, it was observed that steroids can block hair growth at the point of anagen initiation. However, once the steroid application was stopped, hair growth started. It was also noted that steroid withdrawal was not the only factor that affected hair growth. This study found that steroids did not block hair growth induction but could block the next step, which is hair growth.2
As this can vary from person to person, in some the hair growth may be initiated as soon as the steroid treatment is stopped while in some it may take a while.
Thus, when aiming at hair growth, there are several factors to be considered apart from stopping the use of steroid therapy. You may want to plan a healthy diet and lifestyle plan for yourself with stress management techniques and get good sleep. Some doctors consider the use of nutritional supplements that can promote hair growth. Hormone therapy may be considered in some cases.
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