Some physicians feel that ferritin levels -- ferritin is the stored form of iron -- are integral to healthy hair growth, and that levels that are not optimal may contribute to hair loss, or impede hair regrowth. Have your ferritin levels checked, and if not optimal -- Sara Gottfried, MD says that levels below 80 are not optimal for thyroid patients suffering hair loss -- talk to your doctor about supplementing with iron. (But remember not to take iron within three hours of thyroid medications.)
If you've been checked out by the dermatologist and determined to have thyroid-related hair loss, you may have to settle in and be a bit patient. It's likely that for most, the hair loss will slow down, and eventually stop, once hormone levels are stabilized and in the normal range. This may take a few months, however. But rest assured, I've had many thousands of emails from people, and have yet to hear from anyone who lost most of his or her hair, or became bald, due to thyroid disease. But people -- including myself -- have experienced significant loss of hair volume. In my case, I'd guess at one point, I lost almost half my hair. I had long, thick hair, and it got much thinner at various times. But now, with my thyroid fairly regulated, a T4/T3 drug, and use of EPO, it is at about 85-90% of where it used to be. I still have short periods when it seems to be shedding a bit more than usual, but they are quite infrequent. (I used to think I was going to able to stuff pillows with all the hair I was losing!)
Look at Other Alternatives
In one study, Dr. Hugh Rushton, a professor at Portsmouth University, also found that 90 percent of women with thinning hair were deficient in iron and the amino acid lysine. Lysine is the most difficult amino acid to get enough of via diet. Lysine helps transport iron, which is the most important element in the body and essential for many metabolic processes. When lysine and iron levels are low, the body probably switches some hair follicles off to increase levels elsewhere. Meat, fish and eggs are the only food sources of lysine. There are also supplements that contain lysine.
Some other natural ways to deal with hair loss include:
- Green Tea
- Polysorbate 80
- Saw Palmetto
- Vitamin B6 Zinc
Consult a Doctor for a Prescription Treatment
In some cases, your dermatologist may recommend that you try drug treatments. The two popular drugs for hair loss -- Rogaine and Propecia -- both interfere with DHT's ability to destroy hair follicles. Neither drug is safe to use during pregnancy, however, and so they are not as commonly used in women of child-bearing age. Rogaine, the brand name for minoxidil, is available without a prescription. Women typically use a 2% minoxidil solution applied to the scalp twice a day, and men use a 5% solution. Improvements with minoxidil are slow - it may take months to see any improvement, and a year or more for any dramatic change in hair loss and regrowth. To maintain improvements, minoxidil needs to be continued daily. Propecia, the brand name for finasteride, is a prescription drug taken in pill form. It is not to be used by women in child-bearing years because of its ability to cause serious birth defects, but it has been shown to help some women. Propecia does not, however, appear to be any more effective than minoxidil, and like minoxidil, it can take a year to see results, and must be taken for life to maintain regrowth.
Consider Other Options
Ultimately, if thyroid treatment, drugs, and supplements do not resolve your hair loss, and it is a debilitating problem, you may want to consider other options, including:
- Hair-transplant surgery. In this treatment, donor hair follicles are taken from an area of your head that is not thinning. Tiny grafts of just a few hair follicles are implanted in your thinning areas. When successful, the transplanted follicles begin to regrow hair in the sparser areas. Several treatments may be necessary, and visible regrowth may take a year. This approach is better for patches of hair loss, rather than general thinning.
- A hair weave, which adds artificial hair to existing hair.
- Hairpieces and falls (that can be attached under natural hair, or via combs) for additional fullness and styling options, or wigs.