Medications that cause hair loss

The facts: Medications that cause hair loss

There are hundreds of medications that cause hair loss in women and men. It is an unfortunate side effect for many individuals undergoing treatment. The drugs interfere with the normal three phase hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen, and telogen. It’s important to note that the medication may not be the cause of your hair loss, albeit there is a strong connection. Therefore, only a test can determine whether or not hair loss is a side effect of the medication.

Types of hair loss in women and men

For some women and men, hair loss may start immediately, although you may notice no changes for months. This gradual loss of hair is referred to as Telogen effluvium. The telogen phase in the hair growth cycle is known as the resting phase. This type of hair loss in women results in shedding or thinning. In extreme cases; however, patients may experience massive hair loss. This is commonly known as Anagen effluvium and occurs during the anagen or, active phase, of the hair cycle. Hair loss is visible within a few days or weeks of taking this form of medication.

1. Anagen Effluvium

Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy: Alkylating agent, Antimetabolites, Cytotoxic and Taxol (Paclitaxel).

The list below contains medications that cause short-term hair loss:
Adriamycin, Amsacrine, Bleomycin, Busulfan, Capecitabine, Carboplatin,
Carmustin, Cisplatin, Cyclophosphamide, Daunorubicin, Docetaxel, Epirubicin, Etoposid, Fludarabine, Ifosfamide, Irinotecan, Gemcitabine, Lomustine, 6-Mercaptopurine, Melphalan, Methotrexate, Mitomycin C, Mitoxantrone, Paclitaxel, Procarbazine, Raltitrexed, Streptozotocin, Thiotepa, Topotecan, Vinblastine, Vincristine, Vindesine, Vinorelbine.

2. Telogen Effluvium

With Telogen effluvium, the drug causes temporary hair loss which is not noticeable for several months. The following list contains medications that cause long-term hair loss:

  • Anti-Osteoarthritis and Immunosuppressive: Azathioprine, Colchicine, Auranofin, Methotrexate, Penicillamine.
  • Antibiotics: Chloramphenicol, Ethambutol, Ethionamide, Gentamicin, Nitrofurantoin.
  • Antiepileptic: Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, Sodium valproate.
  • Anticoagulants: Dicoumarol, Coumarin, Heparin, Warfarin.
  • Antihistamines and Anti-ulcer: Cimetidine, Ranitidine, Famotidine, Terfenadine.
  • Antihypertensives: Prazosin, Beta-blockers, Diazoxide.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, Ketoprofen, Naproxen, Piroxicam, Sulindac.
  • Anti-thyroids: Carbimazole , Thiouracil.
  • Beta-blockers: Acebutolol, Atenolol, Nadolol, Labetalol, Metoprolol, Pindolol ,Propranolol, Timolol.
  • Diverse: Allopurinol, Amiodarone, Bromocriptine, Clonidine, Clomiphene, Haloperidol, Levodopa, Methyldopa, Methysergide, Metyrapone, Probenecid, Sulfasalazine.
  • Hypercholesterolemia: Clofibrate, Fenofibrate, Gemfibrozil.
  • Interferon: Interferon-alpha.
  • Vitamin A & by-products: Alitretinoin, Isotretinoin, Acitretin.

Our advice

If you suspect that your hair loss is caused by medication contact your doctor immediately to discuss your symptoms as only they can recommend or change your treatment. Most importantly, take the medication as prescribed by your doctor and do not change it unless advised to do so. Please note that this list of medications which cause hair loss in women (and men) is not exclusive. Furthermore, you should always read your leaflets carefully and consult a specialist before making any changes.

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