For a small gland located in your throat, the thyroid has a surprisingly essential role in numerous vital bodily functions, impacting fertility, heart rate, digestion, and more. If you are experiencing signs of hair loss, your thyroid may be your primary culprit.
Keep in mind that both an underactive as well as an overactive thyroid can cause diffuse thin hair all over the scalp. However, if your hair loss has a particular pattern it may be an issue caused by DHT or other issues.
The Effects of Hypo- and Hyperthyroidism on Hair Growth
The thyroid gland secretes the hormones calcitronin, T4 (thyroxine), and T3 (triiodothyronine). These hormones enter the bloodstream and regulate the metabolic rate of cells and organs, controlling how quickly cells turn nutrients into energy and the amount of oxygen used in the process. This makes the thyroid gland the body’s main metabolic control center.1
This regulation of cell metabolism extends to the eyes, skin, and the scalp. The hormones created by the thyroid control hair growth rates, and research has identified thyroid hormone receptors in both dermal and epithelial human hair follicles, suggesting that healthy hair growth requires a hormonal balance.2 Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism may result in hormonal fluctuations that can potentially cause diffuse hair loss that is spread throughout the entire scalp in a uniformly sparse pattern.3
Hyperthyroidism refers to an overactive thyroid that produces too much thyroxine. It can speed up your natural metabolism, resulting in a faster or irregular heartbeat and unintentional weight loss. Other common signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Sleep problems
- Thinning skin
- Changes to bowel patterns
- An increased sensitivity to heat
The increased production and secretion of thyroxine can come from various causes, but the most common include:
- Graves’ disease – Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes antibodies produced in the immune system to stimulate production of thyroxine.
- Thyroiditis – Inflammation in the thyroid can cause the gland to leak stored thyroxine into the bloodstream.
- Plummer’s disease – This form of hyperthyroidism is characterized by the formation of adenomas, which are parts of the thyroid walled off from the rest of the gland, resulting in benign lumps that increase the size of the thyroid and its hormone production.
In terms of hair loss, hyperthyroidism is associated more with hair becoming finer and more brittle.4
As the opposite of hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is characterized by an underactive thyroid gland that is unable to produce enough of its necessary hormones. In its early stages, hypothyroidism may not present any noticeable symptoms, but over time, you may notice a variety of physical symptoms, namely sudden weight gain, joint pain, and heart issues. Other common symptoms include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Increased blood cholesterol levels
- Aches and stiffness in muscles
- Reduced heart rate
- Impaired memory
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which causes the immune system’s antibodies to prevent the secretion of hormones in the thyroid. Hypothyroidism may also result as an over-response to treatments for hyperthyroidism, both in the form of medication and surgery.5
Treatment Options for Hyper- and Hypothyroidism
Hyper- and hypothyroidism can generally be treated with forms of medication or surgery. Hypothyroidism is typically treated with the daily oral use of levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone, which helps to restore hormone levels to normal. This is likely a lifelong medication, though your doctor may have to change dosage based on your natural thyroid hormone levels.6
The standard treatment for hyperthyroidism is radioactive iodine tablets. Your thyroid absorbs the radioactive iodine, causing the gland to gradually shrink. Hyperthyroid symptoms subside within a few months, and any excess radioactive iodine naturally leaves the body in weeks or months.
You may have to take levothyroxine to readjust thyroid hormones to normal. Alternately, your doctor may suggest a thyroidectomy. This is a surgical procedure that involves removing most of your thyroid gland. However, this may result in hypothyroidism and require you to take levothyroxine to maintain normal amounts of thyroid hormones.7
The good news is that, with treatment, most all symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism should improve almost immediately. This includes your hair loss, though it may still take time for your hair to grow back to normal.
Hair loss that is caused by hypo- or hyperthyroidism requires medical treatment to address the underlying issue. Once you have your thyroid and its hormones under control, you can begin the process of regrowing your hair. To help your hair along the way, you may want to take a hair growth supplement, like HairOmega Gummies, which provide vitamins and minerals to support scalp health and hair growth. You do not need a DHT blocker supplement because hair loss caused by thyroid problems is not caused by excess DHT.