- How to Look Your Best With Hypothyroidism: Coping With Dry Skin, Thinning Hair and Eyebrows, Puffy Eyes, and Weight Gain
- Filling In Patchy, Sparse Eyebrow Hair
- Reducing Puffiness Around the Eye
- Coping With Weight Gain
- Where does a puffy face come from?
- 3 Ways to Deflate a Puffy Face
- Natural Hair Care Remedies for Hair Loss Caused by Hashimoto’s Disease
- Hashimoto Disease and Thinning Hair?
- How Hashimoto’s Causes Hair Thinning and Loss
- Exploring Natural Hair Care Remedies
- Be Gentle to Your Hair
- Focus on Nutrition
- Get a Scalp Massage
- Essential Oils
- Consider Yoga or Meditation
- Address and Take Care of Other Health Issues
- Use an Activating Serum
- Choosing Gentle Natural Hair Care Remedies That are Right for You
- 10 Things that Stopped My Thyroid Hair Loss
- 1. Optimal Thyroid Treatment
- 2. Low Ferritin
- 3. Low Stomach Acid
- 4. Nutrient Deficiencies
- 5. Drug-Induced Hair Loss
- 6. Alopecia Areata
- 7. Sex Hormone Imbalances
- 8. Sugar
- 9. Hair Loss Supplements
- 10. Stress
- Causes and symptoms
- What Causes an Itchy Scalp with Hair Loss and How Do I Treat It?
- Thyroid disease: A checklist of skin, hair, and nail changes
How to Look Your Best With Hypothyroidism: Coping With Dry Skin, Thinning Hair and Eyebrows, Puffy Eyes, and Weight Gain
Filling In Patchy, Sparse Eyebrow Hair
Another physical change related to hypothyroidism involves the eyebrows — both overall thinning and losing all the hair in the outer third of the brows.
Makeup can help here: Use a brow pencil in a shade that matches your natural hair color to fill out and extend your brow line, drawing individual hairs with the pencil’s sharp point.
Most beauty stores sell eyebrow kits containing a variety of products and tools that can create a natural look.
Reducing Puffiness Around the Eye
“Puffiness around the eyes caused by hypothyroidism can take a while to go away once treatment is started,” Pearce says.
But there are ways to reduce it:
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Use a cold compress. It can help dissipate swelling and puffiness around your eyes.
- Try antihistamines. Be sure to choose a nondrowsy formula for daytime use.
Coping With Weight Gain
The symptom linked to hypothyroidism that gets the most attention, but actually has the least overall impact, is weight gain. “It’s typically fairly minimal, and usually is mostly water weight,” Pearce says.
To reduce water weight and feel better in general:
- Stay hydrated. Again, you want to drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Eat a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Adjust calories and add daily physical activity, which will also help boost your energy level while you’re getting your thyroid condition under control.
Additional reporting by Jennifer Kelly Geddes.
A puffy face is a common condition that can quickly lower your confidence. Learn why you’re swelling up and three approaches you need to look and feel your best, without the bloat.
If you’ve experienced it, then you feel my pain. Getting rid of a puffy face is a cause that hits close to home. Almost every morning, I wake up with a slightly swollen face that doesn’t seem to deflate on command. Sometimes, it deceives me into thinking I’ve gained weight when I haven’t (I’ve checked!) or am sick when I’m not (my doctor checked!). More often than not, I feel like I have an extra inch of skin round my cheeks, eyelids and lips. And even if I don’t recognize it in the mirror or feel the extra tenderness, I most certainly notice the difference in pictures. It’s an annoying predicament for which I had long been eager to find a solution. After reading more into why it may be happening so often to me, the better prepared I became in preventing its onset.
Where does a puffy face come from?
A puffy face or facial puffiness is medically known as facial edema. It is most commonly caused by fluid retention. Factors that lead to facial puffiness include reactions to certain drugs, obesity, and poor circulation. Certain conditions like pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, thyroid disorders, kidney disease, tooth abscess, throat infection, sinusitis, allergies, and conjunctivitis can also be to blame.
With so many factors to consider, it’s best to first target the condition that is most directly treatable: fluid retention. Fluid retention occurs when there is an excessive build up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues, or cavities of the body.
Here are three ways to go about deflating a puffy face by preventing fluid retention.
3 Ways to Deflate a Puffy Face
1. Stay Hydrated
Make sure you are drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day and abstain from excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption. Meanwhile, it’s important to exercise and cut back on sodium. Instead, eat foods that fight fluid retention. For most people, these simple steps are enough to ensure a marked difference in facial puffiness.
2. Eat Right, Lose Weight
Easier said than done, I know, but it has to be said. A puffy face can mean you are carrying around extra weight. Oftentimes, consuming less-than-healthy foods go hand-in-hand with retaining water in the body. Change your dietary habits to a predominantly plant-based diet and you’ll see an almost immediate effect. With high water-containing foods entering your system, you are less likely to experience fluid retention and more likely to lose weight.
3. Naturally Treat Your Thyroid
An underactive thyroid is linked to fluid retention. Hypothyroidism is a condition serious enough to consult your doctor about to plan a course of action. However, there are natural ways to treat hypothyroidism, as it is often a result of an immune system failure. Adjusting your diet is just one small way you can make a big difference. But always discuss with your doctor first, and never stop taking thyroid medication unless advised by your physician.
A few tips include eliminating gluten from your diet, avoiding goitrogens (such as cruciferous veggies), and embracing glutathione-containing foods.
Gluten has the molecular composition of thyroid tissue and can make for a cause of mistaken identity. Eating gluten can cause your immune system to attack your thyroid.
Goitrogens are substances that can interfere with thyroid function by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Goitrogens include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnips, millet, spinach, strawberries, cauliflower, kale, peaches, peanuts, radishes, and soybeans. You can still eat goitrogens when cooked or raw, in moderation.
Lastly, glutathione is an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system and helps it to repress autoimmune flare-ups as well as heal thyroid tissue. Glutathione-rich foods include grapefruit, avocado, asparagus, raw eggs, and garlic.
Related on Organic Authority
30 Days of Paleo: Beating the Bloat
Can ‘Eating Clean’ Turn Your Health Around?
Natural Hair Care Remedies for Hair Loss Caused by Hashimoto’s Disease
Several factors from stress and poor diet to underlying health conditions contribute to hair loss in men and women. Pinpointing the cause of losing your hair can be difficult, but with patience and talking with your doctor or dermatologist, you can often get to the root of your hair problems.
One of the many health conditions that can cause hair loss is Hashimoto’s Disease, also known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, or autoimmune thyroiditis. In this article, we take a closer look at natural remedies which are beneficial in treating hair loss, improving scalp health, and activating hair regrowth for patients with Hashimoto’s disease.
Hashimoto Disease and Thinning Hair?
Before we jump into natural remedies and why Hashimoto’s disease causes hair thinning and loss, it’s important to take a brief look at what the disease is and who it affects.
Hashimoto’s disease affects about 5 out of 100 people in the U.S. and women are more likely to have the disease than men. Hashimoto’s can occur at any age but is most common at 40 years old and older, and if you have autoimmune disorders like celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis, you may be more at risk for Hashimoto’s disease.
Hashimoto’s, which is also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, affects about 5 out of 100 people in the U.S. and women are more likely to have the disease than men. Hashimoto’s can occur at any age but is most common at 40 years old and older and if you have autoimmune disorders like celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis, you are more at risk for Hashimoto’s disease.
Early signs that may indicate that you have Hashimoto’s disease include weight gain, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, a slowed heart rate, and thinning or dry hair. If you suspect that you may have Hashimoto’s, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms.
If you have recently received a diagnosis for Hashimoto’s disease, you may feel frustrated by the symptoms of your disease, such as the changes in your hair.
How Hashimoto’s Causes Hair Thinning and Loss
When you have Hashimoto’s, your body is affected in many ways, and losing your hair can be a big shock as it can affect your physical appearance. Hair loss can be more significant if your thyroid issue is severe and left untreated.
In a body with a healthy immune system, the hair starts growing at the root, which is the base of your hair follicle. The blood vessels in your scalp feed the root, create more cells, and make each strand of hair grow.
As the hair grows, it passes through oil glands (sebaceous glands) protected by sebum, where your hair can grow healthy and moisturized. Hair continues to grow, shed, and re-grow; it’s all part of a normal cycle.
An immune system that is affected by a thyroid condition like Hashimoto’s experiences hormone disruption. Hormones T3 and T4 are responsible for hair growth, and thyroid diseases often interfere with these hormones.
Hair loss may appear as small patches and become more prominent as balding. In addition to your disease-causing hair issues, certain medications (such as carbimazole) can also contribute to thinning and loss.
As your doctor discussing options, they may suggest medications that stimulate and result in your hair to grow fast. Since some of these medications, like Propecia, are not safe for women – and may cause unwanted side effects in men. As a result, you may be looking for more natural solutions.
Keep in mind that once you begin a treatment plan for Hashimoto’s, you may eventually see your hair start to grow and thicken – but it will take time.
Exploring Natural Hair Care Remedies
Once you start taking medication to regulate your thyroid issue, there’s a good chance that you won’t want to take any additional medications or use other chemicals on your body or as part of your scalp care routine. Here are some natural and evidence-based remedies which may help restore your hair and promote healthy growth.
Be Gentle to Your Hair
One of the best things you can do to preserve the hair you do have is to ease up on your traditional hair maintenance. Use care when brushing your hair and find a brush with gentle and soft bristles. If you typically wear your hair in a hairstyle, such as a bun or have braids or a weave, avoid pulling your hair tight.
Keeping your hair tight for prolonged periods can make hair loss and thinning worse.
If your hair tangles easily, try using a wide tooth comb instead of a brush and use conditioner to keep your hair soft and manageable. It’s also a good idea to stay away from hair care products that contain alcohol or harsh chemicals.
Not only can these types of products dry out your hair but they can also make your scalp more sensitive.
Focus on Nutrition
For someone with a compromised immune system, a healthy diet is important in general, but it can also benefit the health of your hair. Eating a well-balanced diet is important, as is avoiding processed foods that can cause inflammation.
When you experience inflammation, Hashimoto’s disease can worsen and hair loss can accelerate. Choose anti-inflammatory foods that help detoxify your body and keep you feeling energetic and healthy. Some good choices include:
- Green tea
- Certified-organic food
- Seeds and nuts
- Salmon and bone broth
Depending on your nutritional needs, your doctor may recommend taking vitamin supplements such as zinc, copper, iron, and vitamins C, E, and A. It’s important to note that an excessive intake of certain vitamins and minerals can also make your thyroid issue worse, so only take the amount as recommended by your doctor.
Get a Scalp Massage
A scalp massage is not only a good stress reliever, but it can also encourage blood flow to the follicles and all over your scalp. Rather than treating yourself to a scalp massage once a month, try to make it part of your daily routine, at least until your hair starts to grow and strengthen.
Using honey for hair growth is an ancient remedy, and castor oil is often a time-honored method. Coconut oil is also beneficial. Try massaging it gently into your scalp and leaving it for 20-30 minutes before rinsing in the shower. The oil can seal moisture into your hair and repair and protect your follicles.
Massaging your scalp with specific essential oils can also help increase blood flow and promote hair growth. Oils like lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and thyme help improve circulation. Making a blend of peppermint, rosemary, and sage oil is an excellent combination for hair growth.
Since essential oils can be strong, you should always mix oils with a carrier oil like olive, jojoba, or coconut oils.
Consider Yoga or Meditation
Since Hashimoto’s disease can cause stress, which can increase the amount of hair you lose, scientific evidence suggests that you may benefit from calming practices like yoga or meditation.
Some yoga experts recommend trying Viparita Karani or Halasana for Hashimoto’s disease. New to yoga and meditation? A certified instructor can help you choose the right type of practice that’s best for your health needs. Inversion poses can also help with hair growth or thyroid issues.
Address and Take Care of Other Health Issues
As someone with Hashimoto’s disease, there’s a good chance that you may have additional health issues due to your thyroid condition. While treating your thyroid condition itself can be a bit overwhelming and time-consuming, it’s crucial to address other health issues to ensure whole body health.
Make sure to balance your blood sugar and hormones and other essential vitamins and nutrients. Work with your doctor to find a treatment plan and a natural routine that works well for you. As you treat all health issues related to Hashimoto’s disease, you’re likely to see an improvement in the texture, strength, and length of your hair.
Use an Activating Serum
There are several products on the market for hair growth, but many contain chemicals that are not scientifically proven to benefit the health of your hair and scalp. Our botanical and plant-based Activating Serum contains no harmful chemicals and is safe to use on all types of hair types and on sensitive scalps.
If you’re looking for a product that will nourish your follicles, treat your scalp with minerals and amino acids, and restore your scalp’s natural oils, our serum is an excellent and all-natural option to use on a daily basis.
For best results, fill the dropper of serum and evenly disperse onto your scalp. Gently massage the Activating Serum into scalp and leave in your hair. It’s normal to feel your scalp getting warm as the serum stimulates your scalp.
Choosing Gentle Natural Hair Care Remedies That are Right for You
As you try out various natural remedies for treating hair loss related to Hashimoto’s disease, keep in mind that it may take a while to find a routine that works best for you. Regrowth will occur eventually, but it’s essential to stay patient and take care of your health.
10 Things that Stopped My Thyroid Hair Loss
You will NOT take my hair.
I always had very thick, long, curly hair. Around the age of 30 I started noticing my hair clogging the shower drain from time to time. However since I still had so much hair, it wasn’t high on my personal list of worst hypothyroidism symptoms.
Then all of a sudden one close look in the mirror when I turned 42 years old changed all that.
As I was brushing my hair something caught my eye in the mirror.
Wait…is that my scalp showing through?
A closer look.
My hair was noticeably thinner on both sides of my head above my ears, front, and at the temples.
My gut reaction was a scream, then tears.
What happened to my hair?
Hey Thyroid, Do NOT mess with me.
I cut off all my long hair, literally into a short pixie cut. I couldn’t stand to watch the mounds of hair falling off my head.
I went into deep research mode, searching for every article and published study that I could find. I turned myself into a human guinea pig trying every supplement that I found connected to hair loss discovering a few that worked and too many that didn’t.
I saved my hair. And you can too.
Please note that I am not a doctor. I’m just sharing the ten things that worked for me in the hopes that you will discover what works for you too. I’ve included links to brands of supplements that I personally take in orange font. I didn’t just start taking all these supplements all at once. I always start with one supplement and try that for a few weeks and note any improvements in my symptoms or adverse reactions before introducing another supplement, and so on. As with all things in particular supplements mentioned at Hypothyroid Mom, consult with your doctor to be sure they are right for you and that you are taking the right dosage for your body. Our physiology is unique so what works for each of us will be unique too. Always consult with your doctor before taking supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
1. Optimal Thyroid Treatment
Every part of the body requires thyroid hormone for proper functioning, and that includes the hair follicles. In 2008, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism presented the first evidence that human hair follicles are direct targets of thyroid hormones. This research demonstrated that the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 modulate multiple hair biology parameters from cycling to pigmentation.
You’ll notice that I bolded the words thyroid hormones T4 and T3. Why is this so important for those of us with hair loss?
In mainstream medicine, Levothyroxine drugs are the gold standard for the treatment of hypothyroidism. While these drugs work for some people, they fail for others. Levothyroxine drugs contain T4 thyroid hormone only. Our bodies are supposed to convert that T4 thyroid hormone to the active T3 hormone our cells need. For some of us our bodies don’t convert T4 to T3 properly, leaving us symptomatic. This is why many of us do better on a combination of T4 and T3 thyroid hormone replacement treatment.
The noticeable hair loss was a red flag for me that I needed to get to my doctor for thyroid testing. I’m on the natural desiccated thyroid Nature-throid plus a compounded time-release T3. My doctor did comprehensive testing including the essential thyroid tests TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. Turned out my Free T3 was middle of the range. I personally feel terrible when my Free T3 is low or even middle of the range. Optimal Free T3 for my body is when it reaches top quarter of the normal range, so adjusting my thyroid medication dosage was an essential piece to my thyroid hair loss. There are many different thyroid medication options. Finding a doctor open the treatment options to find what is right for you is key.
While optimal thyroid treatment was an essential piece of the puzzle, there were additional pieces critical to my hair loss solution.
2. Low Ferritin
Low ferritin (the stored form of iron) is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Given low ferritin is also a common problem for hypothyroid people, it is important to have iron testing including ferritin especially if you are experiencing hair loss. It is not enough to be told by your doctor that your iron levels are ‘normal’. Ferritin levels are not always tested. Get a copy of your lab results and be sure ferritin has been specifically tested. Even if ferritin is within the ‘normal’ range that doesn’t make it ‘optimal’.
Dr. Philip Kingsley is called the ‘Hair Guru’ by the New York Times. Why Is Ferritin Important? appears on his website:
Correct ferritin levels maximize your hair’s “anagen” or “growing” phase and encourage your hairs to grow to their full length. When you aren’t getting enough iron through your diet, your body takes ferritin stored in non-essential tissue, like your hair bulb, and gives it to essential tissue, such as your heart. Because your hair bulb is where all your hair cells are produced, this leeching of ferritin can cause your hair to shed before it reaches its maximum length.
The average reference ranges for ferritin are 14-170 micrograms per litre, but our research shows that ferritin should be at least 80 ug/L (micrograms per litre) in women for hair follicles to function at their best.
Treating low ferritin was another major piece of my hair loss solution. It’s not surprising to me at all that I had low ferritin given the decades I spent with irregular heavy menstrual cycles (which is another symptom of hypothyroidism, by the way) and my doctors all those years never tested to see if I was low.
I tried various iron supplements and many of them gave me digestive issues including gas, stomach cramps, and constipation. With a life-long history of constipation, that was the last thing I needed. I have personally found this brand Perfect Desiccated Liver Capsules from grass-fed cattle works well for my body. My doctor regularly checks my iron levels including ferritin to be sure I am taking the right dosage of iron supplements for my body and that I’m not taking too much because over-dosing on iron can be dangerous.
I’m careful to take iron supplements including multivitamins with iron at least 3 hours apart from my thyroid medication to ensure the iron doesn’t interfere with the absorption of my thyroid medication.
3. Low Stomach Acid
I read a fascinating interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright by Suzanne Somers Honey, I Shrunk My Ponytail! Turns out this article would change the fate of my hair.
DR. WRIGHT: If stomach acid is low, protein isn’t efficiently digested – and hair and nails are made up of… protein! If we are deficient in protein, our bodies know that we can live without hair or nail proteins, but we can’t survive without heart muscle proteins or other important body proteins. So if we are short in supply of protein, the hair or nails are the first to go.
Turns out low stomach acid results in malabsorption of iron (which as you know is necessary for maintaining our hair) and many other essential nutrients. Thanks to this article I discovered my own issues with low stomach acid and drinking warm water with lemon every morning and before meals has definitely helped. I drink it through a straw (I purchased an inexpensive set of stainless steel straws) to prevent damage to the enamel of my teeth. You can also try adding one or two tablespoons of Bragg Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with the ‘Mother’ mixed in water before meals. This has also helped me with heartburn, gas, acid reflux, and bloating. I know what you are thinking, all of you with heartburn and acid reflux are taking antacids to do the opposite – reduce, neutralize acid. Hmmm. Maybe the real source of your discomfort is too little acid and the real solution is increasing acid instead!
4. Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies are a common issue for those of us with hypothyroidism. Not only are nutrients essential for thyroid function, but they also play an important role in keeping the hair on our heads from falling. A good quality multi-vitamin is important and of course a healthy diet is essential, but still nutrient testing is important because many like me will require additional supplementation to bring us to optimal. Testing should include iodine, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, B12, and magnesium.
Nutrient deficiencies are an issue for me personally. I supplement every day to maintain my nutrients at optimum. When I noticed a worsening of my hair loss last year, nutrient testing revealed that I was deficient in all those nutrients necessary for hair health. This high quality multivitamin Pure Encapsulations PureLean Pure Pack (it helped me lose a few pounds too) which includes the healthy fat omega-3 has made a world of difference. I also like Pure Encapsulations Energize Plus Pure Pack.
5. Drug-Induced Hair Loss
There are many different types of drugs that can cause hair loss. Here is a list of What Types of Drugs Cause Hair Loss by WebMD:
- Acne medications containing vitamin A (retinoids)
- Antibiotics and antifungal drugs
- Birth control pills
- Anticlotting drugs
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Drugs that suppress the immune system
- Drugs that treat breast cancer
- Epilepsy drugs (anticonvulsants)
- High blood pressure medications (anti-hypertensives), such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Mood stabilizers
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Parkinson’s disease drugs
- Thyroid medications
- Weight loss drugs
Did you notice that I highlighted thyroid medications on that list?
I’ve heard from many readers who had sudden worsening of their hair loss when they started one or another thyroid drug brand. Think back to the start of your hair loss, did it happen at the same time you started a specific thyroid medication?
6. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia Areata is a hair-loss condition that typically causes patchy bald spots on the scalp. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles.
What does this have to do with hypothyroidism? A lot.
It is estimated that 90% of people with hypothyroidism have the thyroid autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks its own thyroid gland. Despite the prevalence of Hashimoto’s, thyroid antibodies are often NOT tested. You may have Hashimoto’s and not even know it. There are two thyroid antibodies to test for Hashimoto’s: Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).
When you have one autoimmune disease, you are at high risk of developing other autoimmune diseases. In her guest post for Hypothyroid Mom Autoimmune Diseases Brew In Your Body FOR YEARS Before Diagnosis Functional Medicine nutritionist Tracy Konoske wrote:
Dr. Gerald Mullin from Johns Hopkins says statistically somebody with an autoimmune disease is at risk of a total of 7 autoimmune diseases in his or her lifetime.
I hear from readers all the time with multiple autoimmune diseases including Hashimoto’s and Alopecia. If this turns out to be the cause for your hair loss, it is important to address the underlying autoimmune issue.
7. Sex Hormone Imbalances
Perimenopause…are you freakin’ kidding me?!
The signs were there. My menstrual cycles changed very suddenly and became much shorter in length. At that exact same time my hair loss accelerated. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I went to my doctor and had my sex hormones tested.
For me it turned out I was in perimenopause. What is perimenopause? It’s that rocky road of hormonal shifts leading to menopause. When perimenopause starts varies for each woman, but it can start 10 years before menopause.
Sex hormone testing revealed that my estrogen levels were declining and that was making a mess of my hair. Another common sex hormone imbalance is estrogen dominance, too much estrogen relative to progesterone. Don’t forget testosterone testing too…yes high testosterone can cause hair loss but so can low testosterone. Harvard-trained MD Dr. Sara Gottfried had this to say about testosterone in her article The Horrors of Hair Loss for The Huffington Post:
Another possible reason for hair loss? Too much testosterone. That’s right: Women also produce the hormone testosterone. In fact, testosterone is what gets us in the mood, gives us self-confidence, and keeps us vital and sassy.
But if testosterone levels are too high in women — whether because of menopause, excess weight, or other causes — we see symptoms of male-pattern baldness and rogue hair growth on the face. The hairs on your head are falling out, but you’re finding new ones on your chin? Totally unfair!
Sex hormone testing, especially for women and men with hair loss, should include DHT (DiHydroxy Testosterone). DHT is a derivative of the male hormone testosterone. In women, perimenopause and menopause marks a drop in estrogen which leaves hair particularly vulnerable to DHT. Women with PCOS struggling with hirsutism (excessive body hair in women in areas where men typically grown hair including the fat, check, and back ) and male-pattern hair loss should be sure testosterone and DHT are part of their lab testing too. The American Hair Loss Association describes DHT as “the enemy of hair follicles on your head”:
The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women. And certainly when those levels rise, DHT is even more of a problem. Those levels can rise and still be within what doctors consider “normal” on a blood test, even though they are high enough to cause a problem. The levels may not rise at all and still be a problem if you have the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even its regular levels of chemicals, including hormones.
Testosterone is converted to DHT by the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase. Research is focused on the role of 5AR inhibitors in the form of prescription medications and topical lotions. Saw palmetto derived from the berry of the American dwarf tree has received particular attention as a botanical 5AR inhibitor.
Dr. Apple Bodemer an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health told The Today Show:
When inflammation is constantly driven by high glycemic and high sugar diets, messes with the immune system and that is where the high sugar diets are coming more into play with hair health.
Juice cleansing is the classic example of not getting enough protein. They are literally just getting sugar. You can tell a difference in the hair.
I stumbled upon this recent study with the title Hair Follicle Characteristics As Early Marker of Type 2 Diabetes. Now that’s a warning bell, if I’ve ever heard one, to get focused on lowering daily sugar consumption and eliminating those blood sugar swings. You know those highs you get when you eat high carb, high sugar and then come crashing down? Yes, those.
Has your doctor told you that your blood sugar levels are too high? Low thyroid is one potential cause of diabetes, and it may be your red flag to have your thyroid re-evaluated. When my doctor once mentioned that my blood sugar was at the high pre-diabetic level and suggested starting diabetes medication, I asked for 6 months to try replacing my regular multivitamin with this one Designs for Health Metabolic Synergy (created by a nationally prominent doctor specializing in blood sugar) and by my follow-up appointment my blood sugar was completely normal and diabetes medication was not needed (what a relief).
9. Hair Loss Supplements
Here are supplements that have made an obvious difference in my hair.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Are you on a really, really low fat diet? Is your hair breaking and falling out? Essential fatty acids are important for hair health.
Dr. Andrew Weil is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. In his article Two Supplements for Thinning Hair, he wrote:
Make sure you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. Eat wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring or mackerel two or three times a week, or sprinkle two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds per day on cereal or salads. You can also supplement with a high-quality fish oil.
Supplement your diet with GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) in the form of black currant oil or evening primrose oil. Take 500 mg of either twice a day for six to eight weeks to see if it helps.
I love Carlson Cod Liver Oil which is free of detectable levels of mercury every day and I take evening primrose oil as I’ll describe next.
Evening Primrose Oil
Mary Shomon wrote this in her article at Very Well Health Hair Loss Solutions For Thyroid Patients:
According to endocrinologist Dr. Kenneth Blanchard:
“For hair loss, I routinely recommend multiple vitamins, and especially evening primrose oil. If there’s any sex pattern to it — if a woman is losing hair in partly a male pattern – -then, the problem is there is excessive conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) at the level of the hair follicle. Evening primrose oil is an inhibitor of that conversion. So almost anybody with hair loss probably will benefit from evening primrose oil.”
I use this brand of Evening Primrose Oil.
I read this study on the benefits of a bioavailable form of silicon called choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA) on skin, nails, and hair. Sure enough this silicon (ch-OSA) supplement called BIOSIL has made a difference not only in my hair but also my skin and nails.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body found in your skin, hair, bones, and tendons. Our body produces less and less of it as we age. I’ve long read about the benefits, including improved skin and nails and even pain reduction, of replenishing our depleting collagen stores with a form easily assimilated by the human body including hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin. I became particularly interested in collagen for hair loss when I read about a study published in Science in 2016. It all started with investigating the hair follicle stem cells of mice where researchers discovered that age-related DNA damage triggers the destruction of a protein called Collagen 17A1. The hair follicles of older people then convert themselves into skin cells, and over time baldness ensues. Think of the image of each hair follicle on your head disappearing leaving behind bare skin one at a time and on and on. My favorite brand is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides grass-fed and pasture-raised.
Biotin is a very popular supplement recommended by many doctors, pharmacists, health food stores, TV shopping channels, health websites and more when it comes to hair loss. To find some of the best supplement brands for me to try in my quest for thyroid wellness, combing the internet for customer reviews of various brands has been an important part of my process. I’ve read mixed reviews about biotin. Some users love biotin and others find no improvement or they complain about adverse reactions like acne breakout. Biotin didn’t make a significant difference for me but it might work for you and some brands get incredible reviews like this one.
Please note that in January 2016 the Endocrine News published this article January 2016: Thyroid Month: Beware of Biotin which stated that taking biotin supplements could cause falsely high and falsely low results in a variety of laboratory tests, including thyroid lab tests because biotin interferes with the test platform used for particular laboratory tests. If you are taking biotin and your thyroid lab results begin to change and not make sense in terms of your clinical symptoms speak with your doctor about doing a retest of your thyroid labs after several days of discontinuing your biotin supplement to be sure there is no interference.
The body relies on the adrenal glands located on top of each kidney to manage stressful situations. Given our busy stressful lives it’s not surprising that many of us suffer from issues of adrenal dysfunction.
How would you know if you have adrenal fatigue?
Check out these symptoms…
fatigue, insomnia, chronic pain, headaches, migraines, anxiety, depression, weight gain, joint inflammation, gastrointestinal issues (constipation or diarrhea), tendonitis, bursitis, low libido, fibromyalgia, irritability, anger, fidgety, nervous, addictions, obsessive, frequent urination, heart disease, blood pressure problems, light-headedness, and dizziness upon rising from a bed or chair
Don’t many of these symptoms sound a lot like the symptoms of hypothyroidism? Hmmm…
I’ve read that many hypothyroid people also have adrenal fatigue (whether they realize it or not). From this very list of symptom that’s not surprising really.
At that time when my hair loss noticeably worsened, I was going through an extremely stressful time in my life. At that very same time my menstrual cycles dramatically changed and my progesterone levels plummeted. The thyroid, adrenals, and sex hormones are all so intricately connected, and my experience showed that loud and clear.
The problem is that the adrenals are often NOT tested. In fact adrenal fatigue is not even a recognized diagnosis in mainstream medicine yet the problem is a serious issue for thyroid patients.
An essential part of my hair loss solution was the testing and treatment of my adrenal fatigue. I’m fortunate to have an open-minded doctor who understands the importance of the adrenals in thyroid health.
I took a saliva test (where I took samples of my saliva at 4 different times over the course of one day) that tested my cortisol. Cortisol production varies throughout the day with levels normally highest in the morning and lowest in the evening before bed (did you know that too high cortisol at night can be a cause of insomnia!). The advantage of saliva testing is that it takes cortisol levels at different times of the day and lets you know how your cortisol levels vary during the day. My results showed that my cortisol levels were below normal throughout the day. I was obviously struggling with adrenal fatigue and I’m so fortunate to have discovered this.
There are different ways to treat adrenal issues and what’s right for a person is individual too. I personally do well on adaptogenic herbs including Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, and Schisandra. I take adaptogenic herbs every day, especially in times of real stress. With this combination of herbs Pure Encapsulations Phyto-ADR my energy is also up, my anxiety is down, and I sleep like a baby.
That year when I was losing so much hair I was under too much stress.
I’m not always good at being good to myself.
I put other people’s needs before my own and let myself fall to the bottom way too often.
I take on far more than I should because I feel guilty to say NO.
I’m not sure why that word is so hard for me to say.
I try to be everything to everyone, but me.
The particularly stressful events in my life at that time along with an unhealthy way of putting myself last wreaked havoc on my hair. I knew at that moment that I had to take better care of myself otherwise I would lose all my hair.
While all the testing, treatments, and supplements mentioned in this article were essential in stopping my hair loss, there was an even bigger thing that saved my hair above all else
READ NEXT: 300 Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Count How Many You Have
Causes and symptoms
Congenital hypothyroidism is a disorder that affects infants from birth, resulting from the loss of thyroid function due to the failure of the thyroid gland to develop correctly. Sometimes the thyroid gland is absent or is ectopic, i.e., in an abnormal location. This congenital defect means that the infant does not produce sufficient thyroid hormones, resulting in abnormal growth and development as well as slower mental function.
Hypothyroidism may also be caused by an abnormality of the immune system that results in damage and destruction of the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). This process can result in either loss of thyroid tissue or enlargement of the thyroid. In most cases, there is no pain or tenderness associated with this disease, although sometimes persons affected complain of difficulty in swallowing, as if they had a lump in the throat.
Less often, hypothyroidism develops when the pituitary gland fails and does not release enough thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which stimulates the thyroid to produce and secrete normal amounts of T 4 and T 3 . TSH may be deficient for several reasons:
- disease of the pituitary gland (occurs rarely)
- disease of the hypothalamus (located about the pituitary), which stimulates the pituitary gland
- tumor, cyst, or other abnormal structure between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland that prevents the pituitary from receiving the stimulus to secrete TSH
Other causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Radiation. Radioactive iodine used to treat hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or radiation treatments for head or neck cancers can destroy the thyroid gland.
- Surgery. Removal of the thyroid gland because of cancer or other thyroid disorders can result in hypothyroidism.
- Viruses and bacteria. Infections that depress thyroid hormone production usually cause permanent hypothyroidism.
- Medication. Nitroprusside, lithium, or iodides can induce hypothyroidism. Because patients who use these medications are closely monitored by their doctors, this side effect is very rare.
- Environmental contaminants. Certain man-made chemicals such as PCBs, found in the local environment at high levels, may also cause hypothyroidism.
Often babies with congenital hypothyroidism will appear normal at birth, which is why screening is vital. However, some infants may have one of more of the following symptoms:
- large size (despite poor feeding habits) and increased birth weight
- puffy face and swollen tongue
- hoarse cry
- low muscle tone
- cold extremities
- persistent constipation , with distended abdomen
- lack of energy, sleeping most of the time and appearing tired when awake
- little or no growth
Children born with symptoms have a greater risk of developmental delay than children born without symptoms. The longer a child with hypothyroidism remains untreated, the greater is the loss of intellectual capacity, as measured by the standard intelligence testing (IQ). The ultimate IQ has been shown to be significantly higher in children whose hypothyroidism was detected and treated prior to six weeks of age, compared to those children whose hypothyroidism went untreated for six to 12 weeks.
Hypothyroidism that develops after birth is sometimes referred to as a silent disease because early symptoms may be so mild that no one realizes anything is wrong. Untreated symptoms become more noticeable and severe, and can lead to confusion and mental disorders, breathing difficulties, heart problems, fluctuations in body temperature, and death.
A child or adolescent who has hypothyroidism may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- decreased heart rate
- progressive hearing loss
- weight gain
- problems with memory and concentration
- goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
- muscle pain or weakness
- numb, tingling hands
- dry skin
- swollen eyelids
- dryness or loss of hair
- extreme sensitivity to cold
- delayed (common) or early (rare) onset of sexual development at adolescence
- irregular menstrual periods
- elevated cholesterol levels in the blood
- hoarse voice
Although hypothyroidism usually develops gradually, when the disease results from surgery or other treatment for hyperthyroidism, symptoms may appear suddenly and include severe muscle cramps in the arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and back.
People whose hypothyroidism remains undiagnosed and untreated may eventually develop myxedema. Symptoms of this rare, but potentially deadly, complication include enlarged tongue, swollen facial features, hoarseness, and physical and mental sluggishness. Myxedema coma can cause unresponsiveness; irregular, shallow breathing; low blood sugar; and drops in blood pressure and body temperature. The onset of this medical emergency can be sudden in children with undiagnosed hypothyroidism; it can be brought on by illness, injury, surgery, use of sedatives or anti-depressants, or exposure to very cold temperatures. Without immediate medical attention, myxedema coma can be fatal.
What Causes an Itchy Scalp with Hair Loss and How Do I Treat It?
Everyone has an itchy scalp from time to time, and it’s normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. However, it may be concerning when scalp itchiness is excessive or constant, you notice crusty areas on your scalp, or you experience more-than-normal hair loss. Here are some common causes of itchy scalp and hair loss.
It’s generally thought that dandruff is the result of overactive oil glands on the scalp. This is why dandruff doesn’t usually develop until the teen years, when an influx of hormones kicks the skin’s oil production up a notch.
Some researchers also speculate that dandruff (also called seborrhea) is caused by a yeast infection of the scalp and hair follicles. Besides inflaming the scalp and causing itching, yeast can weaken the hair root and lead to hair loss.
Hair loss with dandruff is rare, however. It only occurs when the dandruff is severe and left untreated for long periods of time.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 50 percent of people living with psoriasis develop scalp psoriasis. This condition may cause:
- silvery, dry scales on the scalp
- inflamed scalp
- hair loss that results from excessive scratching or pulling the scales off
Besides causing scalp itchiness and tingling, alopecia areata can cause tufts of hair to fall out. This can result in circular patches of baldness. The condition is thought to arise when the immune system attacks healthy hair follicles. It most often occurs in people who have a family history of other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
Also known as ringworm of the scalp, tinea capitis is a fungal infection that penetrates deep into the hair shaft, causing itchiness and hair loss. Depending on the type of fungi responsible for the infection, the hair may break off at the scalp’s surface or just above, leaving hair stubs.
The infection is highly contagious, is mostly seen in young children, and can also be accompanied by:
- a raised, dry, scaly rash
- black, bumpy dots on the scalp
In severe cases, allergic reactions to things like hair dyes can cause an inflamed, itchy scalp and hair loss. In one study published in ISRN Dermatology,researchers found that up to 1 percent of the subjects were allergic to paraphenylendiamine (PPD), a common ingredient found in hair dyes. PPD is capable of causing severe hair loss in sensitive people. Inflammation and itching can also occur on the scalp around bug bites and can look like a rash or allergy.
Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. It’s usually caused by staph bacteria or fungi. It can occur on your skin wherever hair grows, including the scalp. In addition to causing small, itchy bumps on the skin, folliculitis that affects the scalp can cause temporary hair loss. With proper treatment, the hair usually grows back. However, in rare cases, the condition can cause permanent hair loss.
Lichen planopilaris is an inflammatory scalp condition thought to be due to a faulty immune system. It tends to occur in young adult women and can produce patches of hair loss along with scalp:
The hair loss can be permanent if hair follicles are irreversibly scarred.
Thyroid disease: A checklist of skin, hair, and nail changes
Although your thyroid gland sits deep in your neck, your dermatologist may be the first doctor to notice signs of thyroid disease. That’s because many signs and symptoms of thyroid disease develop on the skin, hair, and nails.
The thyroid gland
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces hormones, which play a key role in regulating your heartbeat, breathing, and many other functions.
You, too, may also be able to spot thyroid disease, and that’s important. Caught early, treatment can prevent complications. When thyroid disease goes untreated for years, it can lead to a dangerously slow (or fast) heartbeat, an injury that refuses to heal, or unrelenting pain. You may have gained or lost weight for no apparent reason.
To help you find early (and some not-so-early) signs of thyroid disease on your skin, hair, and nails, here’s a checklist.
How many of these signs and symptoms do you have?
☐ Dry, pale, and cool skin
☐ Moist, velvety, and warm skin like a baby’s
☐ Dry skin with deep cracks and scale
☐ Deep, noticeable lines on your palms and soles
☐ Yellowish-orange color on your palms and soles
☐ Doughy and swollen face, especially on your eyelids, lips, and tongue
☐ Widening nose
☐ Slow-healing wounds
☐ Sweating less (or more) than before
☐ Goiter (swelling in the neck)
☐ Protruding eyes
☐ Flushing on your face and red palms
☐ Darker skin in the creases of your palms, on your gums, or elsewhere in your mouth
☐ Rashes, especially in the creases of your skin
☐ Painless lumps and patches of scaly, discolored skin, and the affected skin feels hard and waxy
☐ Reddish spots on the skin that come and go
When eyes protrude, it’s often a sign of thyroid disease.
Painless lumps and patches of scaly skin feel hard and waxy
Lumps on discolored skin that feel hard and waxy can be a sign of thyroid disease.
☐ Thinning (or missing) eyebrows on the outer edge
☐ Coarse, dull, dry, and brittle hair that breaks easily
☐ Soft and fine hair with lots of shedding
☐ Thinning hair or balding patches
☐ Growing more slowly (or quickly)
☐ Dry, itchy scalp and dandruff
☐ Less hair on your legs, arms, and other areas
☐ Thick, dry, and brittle with visible ridges
☐ Soft, shiny, and easily crumble
☐ Growing more slowly (or quickly)
☐ Peel, crumble, or break easily
☐ Lift up
☐ Curved with swollen fingertip and thickening skin above the nail
Curved nails with swollen fingertip
A swollen fingertip, curved nail, and thickening skin above a nail are often signs of thyroid disease.
☐ Itchy skin without a rash
☐ Untreatable and itchy hives
Existing skin disease
You have a higher risk of developing thyroid disease if you have one of the following:
☐ Alopecia areata (autoimmune disease that causes hair loss)
When to contact your doctor
If you’ve checked off signs and are not feeling yourself, discuss this with your primary care doctor. These signs don’t necessarily mean that you have thyroid disease. By asking you about your symptoms, your doctor can decide whether you need a blood test to check for thyroid disease.
Image 1: Getty Images Images 2, 3, 4: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Jun;48(6):970-2.
Kalus AA, Chien AJ, et al. “Diabetes mellitus and other endocrine diseases.” In Wolff K et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition).” McGraw Hill, China, 2008:1470-4.