There is an association between hypothyroidism and hair loss. This association was established in several studies such as conducted by Thomas and Kadyan (2008), which showed that although alopecia areata can be associated with many thyroid disorders, hypothyroidism was the most frequent.
Bakry et al (2014) conducted a similar study on 50 patients with alopecia areata but without symptoms of thyroid disorders and found that 16% had hypothyroidism. They recommended that all patients with alopecia be screened for thyroid functional abnormalities especially if hair loss is persistent, recurring and extensive.
Hypothyroidism, hair loss and zinc deficiency
Thyroid hormones are required for absorption of zinc. Hypothyroidism may cause an acquired zinc deficiency due to poor absorption of zinc. The diagnosis of this deficiency is often missed (Betsy et al, 2013). In such cases, treatment with thyroxine (thyroid hormone tablets) will not give positive results until zinc supplements are also added (see figure 1). It is therefore necessary to assess all features of zinc deficiency in cases of alopecia associated with hypothyroidism (Betsy et al, 2013).
A & B: hair loss in a patient with hypothyroidism and acquired zinc deficiency.
C: Return of hair after treatment with thyroxine and zinc supplementation (Betsy et al 2013)
The mechanism of the effects of hypothyroidism on hair growth is not clear (Bakry et al, 2014). However, it has to do with disruption of the hair growth cycle resulting in loss of hair without replacement, as what happens normally (Thomas and Kadyan, 2008).
A study by Dogra et al (2006) revealed that a normal hair growth cycle was restored by thyroid hormone replacement in patients of hypothyroidism who suffered hair loss. Since not all patients with hypothyroidism exhibit hair loss, it is likely that the extent of the effect of the thyroid hormone on hair growth is variable and maybe be influenced by other factors including other hormones (Freinkel, 1972).
What is the solution? The Action Plan
The most important action is to take steps towards treating your hypothyroidism by talking to your doctor and getting the most appropriate treatment based on your specific diagnosis. It seems as though zinc deficiency may be a strongly related issue, which may be a causal factor in the hair loss. Therefore, increasing your consumption of foods that contain zinc may help promote hair growth.
Check out Zinc for hair growth: a complete guide, which lists supplements and the top ten foods highest in zinc content. Try increasing your consumption of those foods, but also consider increasing your consumption of these top 15 foods for promoting hair growth.
In addition, it might be worth consuming a natural, organic essential fatty acids oil. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) may help regulate hormones and many Americans are reportedly deficient in these key nutrients (Hudson, 2015). Check out Best Organic Cold-Pressed Omega Oil Products (EFAs) to see some of the world’s best products.
- Bakry, O.A., Basha, M.A., El Shafiee, M.K. and Shehata, W., Thyroid Disorders Associated With Alopecia Areata In Egyptian Patients, Indian Journal of Dermatology, 2014; 59(1):49-55
- Betsy, A., Binitha, M.P. and Sarita, S., Zinc Deficiency Associated With Hypothyroidism: An Overlooked Case Of Severe Alopecia, International Journal Of Trichology, 2013; 54:40-42
- Dogra, A., Dua, A and Singh, P., Thyroid And Skin, Indian Journal of Dermatology, 2006; 51(2):96-99
- Freinkel, R.K., hair Growth And alopecia In Hypothyroidism, Archives of Dermatology, 1972; 106:349-352
- Keen, M.A., Hassan, I. and Bhat, M.H., A Clinical Study Of The Cutaneous Manifestations Of Hypothyroidism In Kashmir Valley, Indian Journal of Dermatology, 2013; 58(4):326
- Thomas, E.A., Kadyan, R.S., Alopecia Areata And Autoimmunity: A Clinical Study, Indian Journal Of Dermatology, 2008; 53:70-74