I received a question recently about blood pressure medication that caused hair loss for one of my followers and I thought it would be great to tackle it here in case anyone else had a similar concern.
Hair loss caused by medication is not uncommon in the medical industry and even though I am not a medical practitioner I think it is important to understand at least in layman’s terms how some medicine like blood pressure medication can cause hair loss and what if anything you can do about it.
While undergoing treatment people typically report that they lose their hair within three weeks of taking blood pressure medication and they can lose hair on the hair on their head, eyebrows, and lashes.
What happens to your hair when you are having drug induced hair loss
Typically what happens is that in order for the drug to work it interferes with the normal growth cycles of your hair. During the anagen phase of your hair cycle, the hair grows and during the telogen phase the hair rests and then it falls out and is replaced by new hair.
We call this shedding and we can shed around 100 hairs per day normally. There are two types of hair loss, telogen effluvium which is very common and anagen effluvium which is slightly more complicated and uncommon.
Telogen effluvium happens when the hair skips the normal shedding process and sheds way too early. In the case of anagen effluvium that hair loss occurs during the anagen phase and starts to happen within 3 weeks of taking the medication.
We all know from basic biology that for growth to happen our cells divide and replicate, of course, things are way more complicated than that but you have the gist of it.
during anagen effluvium, the medication interrupts the basic division of cells that leads to hair growth causing the follicles to go inactive and the hair to fall. It is almost as if the follicle goes to sleep during treatment and wake up when treatment stops. This is very common for cancer patients who are undergoing radiation treatment.
The type of loss you experience is very dependent on the drug you are on and the dosage which brings me to my first point on how you can handle the hair loss.
1. Talk to your doctor
This will always be my first recommendation because the doctor can talk to you about alternative options, maybe lowering the dosage if possible or giving you additional vitamins to combat the loss of your hair.
Before you do anything, go to your doctor and have a chat.
2. Eat healthy and exercise
Your follicles will need as much help as it can get to keep the hair follicles working so eat foods rich in B vitamin complex, calcium, biotin, and zinc. Since you are working with your doctor you should get suggestions on how you can increase your vitamin intake because your diet changes are something he or she should be very aware of.
Exercise is great because it encourages blood flow to the scalp for efficient nutrient delivery to your scalp. If you plan to start any exercise program please make sure your doctor signs off on it!
3. Use a zinc based shampoo
The idea is that if you can apply zinc directly to your scalp you can jumpstart your hair follicles and keep them healthy. Zinc is critical to hair growth and according to the Huntington College of Health Sciences, applying the mineral directly to your scalp may help combat hair loss and encourage regrowth.
4. Avoid heat and harsh chemicals
This goes without saying that if you are losing your hair you cannot use chemicals from color or relaxers on your hair and you should avoid direct heat as well.
Your hair needs to be as strong as it can and chemicals and heat degenerate the strand in order to fit the aesthetic you are looking for. Stay away from anything that does to make your hair strong and healthy. Stick to using natural hair products like Argan oil, CBD Conditioner or even Apple Cider Vinegar. These products, like many others will benefit hair growth, unlike the use of harsh chemicals and unnecessary ingredients.
With that said there is good news! In most cases once you get off your blood pressure medication your hair will grow back and you will not have to deal with hair loss at all!