Hair Loss in Autoimmune Diseases: Causes, Treatments, and New Breakthroughs


Many women battling autoimmune diseases face an additional challenge – hair loss. This distressing condition can significantly impact self-esteem and quality of life. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common causes of hair loss in autoimmune diseases, explore scientifically-backed treatments, and shed light on groundbreaking new therapies approved for severe cases.

What is normal versus abnormal hair loss?

It’s essential to distinguish between normal hair shedding and abnormal hair loss, known as alopecia. On average, people can lose between 50-200 hairs per day without cause for concern. However, excessive hair loss exceeding this range can lead to diffuse or patchy hair loss, manifesting in various forms: 



What are the most common causes of hair loss?

When evaluating hair loss in patients with autoimmune disorders, several potential factors come into play: 

  • Vitamin and mineral Deficiencies (like deficiencies in vitamins like D, iron, and biotin)
  • Nutritional Factors, stress, and environmental exposure (poor nutrition, high stress levels, and exposure to pollution)
  • Hair Treatments (coloring, bleaching, or heat styling)
  • Hormonal Changes (hormonal fluctuations, such as those occurring after pregnancy, menopause or due to conditions like PCOS)

What autoimmune diseases can cause hair loss?

Active autoimmune disease and Inflammation (uncontrolled autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, lupus, dermatomyositis, scleroderma, and inflammatory bowel diseases can lead to hair loss due to excessive inflammation).

Autoimmune diseases affecting hair-covered areas (conditions like psoriasis of the scalp or lupus can cause hair loss due to localized inflammation).


Can Medications used to treat autoimmune diseases cause hair loss?

Yes, unfortunately, certain medications used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as methotrexate, leflunomide, mycophenolate mofetil, and adalimumab, can contribute to hair loss as a side effect. If methotrexate or leflunomide are used, it is recommended to be paired with folic acid supplementation, as both of these medications can cause folate deficiency in the body. If folic acid supplementation is not helpful, then discuss changing the therapy with your physician.

How to treat hair loss in autoimmune diseases?

First, it is important to undergo thorough evaluations and also consult a dermatologist. While many products are advertised on the market for hair loss, only some of these are scientifically supported.

Conventional Treatments include: 

What are the newest treatments approved for hair loss?

Groundbreaking New Treatments are JAK Inhibitors – A revolutionary class of medications called JAK inhibitors, originally developed for treating Rheumatoid arthritis, has shown remarkable efficacy in treating severe alopecia areata. 

  • Baricitinib (Olumiant) was approved by the FDA in June 2022 for people with severe alopecia areata. 
  • Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) has also shown promising results in regrowing hair, though not yet FDA-approved for alopecia areata. 
  • Ritlecitinib, another JAK inhibitor, is currently under evaluation and expected to be approved in the near future for treating alopecia areata. 

It’s important to note that these medications may have side effects, including 

  • Acne
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Increased muscle enzymes, and 
  • Elevated cholesterol levels

Consulting with a physician is crucial before starting any new medication.

Lifestyle Modifications and Supportive Measures 

Stress management techniques, maintaining a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, and avoiding harsh hair treatments can help minimize excessive shedding. 

At Rheumatologist OnCall, we understand the challenges faced by individuals with autoimmune diseases, including hair loss. Our experienced team of rheumatologists specializes in treating a wide range of autoimmune conditions, providing personalized care and support. We work closely with our patients to develop comprehensive treatment plans, addressing not only the underlying disease but also its associated symptoms and impacts on overall well-being.

If you or a loved one are struggling with hair loss due to an autoimmune disease, don’t hesitate to reach out to Rheumatologist OnCall. By seeking proper medical care, exploring various treatment options, and implementing supportive lifestyle measures, individuals with autoimmune diseases can effectively manage hair loss and regain their confidence. Remember, Rheumatologist OnCall is here to support you every step of the way.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can hair loss caused by autoimmune diseases be reversed?

A: Yes, in many cases, hair loss associated with autoimmune diseases can be reversed or improved with proper treatment. By addressing the underlying condition and reducing inflammation, hair regrowth is possible.

Q: How long does it take for hair to regrow after starting treatment?

A: The timeframe for hair regrowth can vary depending on the individual, the severity of hair loss, and the specific treatment approach. It may take several months to see noticeable improvements, and patience is crucial.

Q: Are JAK inhibitors safe for long-term use?

A: While JAK inhibitors have shown promising results in treating severe alopecia areata, as with any medication, there are potential side effects to consider. Close monitoring by a healthcare professional is essential for long-term use to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Q: Can stress alone cause hair loss in autoimmune diseases?

A: Stress is not the sole cause of hair loss in autoimmune diseases, but it can exacerbate the condition. Managing stress through lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, and seeking support can help minimize excessive shedding.

Q: Are there any preventive measures to avoid hair loss in autoimmune diseases?

A: While hair loss cannot be entirely prevented in autoimmune diseases, maintaining good overall health, managing the underlying condition, and avoiding harsh hair treatments can help minimize the risk and severity of hair loss.


All content shared on this site is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medicine. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment regarding your specific medical needs. We don’t represent that any of the products or services offered through this site are safe, appropriate, or effective for you. We advise you to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider regarding personal health or medical conditions. If you know or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a qualified healthcare professional immediately. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

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