Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that attacks the joints in the body, causing pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility. However, recently some have been linking this terrible ailment with hair loss. Currently, hair loss affects millions, if not billions of men and women worldwide. To date, there is no cure for a thinning thatch. In this article, we will be discussing the link between rheumatoid arthritis and hair loss.
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked With Hair Loss
Recently, many suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) have been claiming that hair loss is a symptom of their condition. Others have claimed that hair loss is a side effect of the medications used to treat RA. However, there needs to be a clear distiniction between temporary hair loss and permanent hair loss. When the vast majority think of hair loss, they think of androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss). Genetic hair loss is a form of permanent hair loss that is caused by a genetic vulnerability to certain hormones produced in men and women.
Many have recently claimed that RA triggered or accelerated their androgenic alopecia also known as hereditary hair loss. As a result, many are claiming that the hair loss they have experienced is permanent due to their genetic pre-disposition to androgenic alopecia.
RA Medications Linked With Hair Loss
There are two types of drugs that are regularly prescribed to treat RA and disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics. Unfortunately, some of the medications that fall within these two groups have been known to cause hair loss.
The majority of physicians prescribe DMARDs for treatment of RA. These drugs are used to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. Inflammation and hair loss have a strong correlation. In fact, many hair loss sufferers who have scalp biopsy's almost always have some form of inflammation.
Methotrexate is the most common DMARD that is prescribed by doctors for the treatment of RA. The medication works by inhibiting the growth of cells in the body. This drug used to be prescribed to cancer patients, because of the anti-cancer properties that the drug contains. However, as an RA treatment- the drug inhibits the growth of immune cells in the body. Unfortunately, the drug doesn't only inhibit the growth of immune cells, it also inhibits the production of hair follicle cells.
Hair Loss Treatment
Unfortunately, the amount of medications and drugs that are prescribed to millions around the world cause a variety of side effects, and hair loss can be one of those side effects. However, there are two drugs that are prescribed to stop the progression of hereditary hair loss and even reverse hair loss altogether.
The first medication is called Propecia (finasteride). Finasteride is an anti-androgen medication that works by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to DHT. DHT is the hormone responsible for causing genetic hair loss. Finasteride has been studied extensively for the treatment of hair loss and has been proven to be effective at stopping hair loss and in some individuals even regrowing hair.
The second medication is called Rogaine (minoxidil). This medication is sold over-the-counter at virtually any convenient store, local market or online store. Minoxidil is a topical vasodilator which essentially means it widens blood vessles to allow for enhanced blood-flow. Unfortunately, the exact mechanism for how minoxidil works is still widely unknown, but many believe that the drug works by increasing blood flow, nutrients, oxygen and prlonging the growth phase of the hair follicle.
RA and hair loss are both terrible conditions that can severely impact anyone's quality of life. Thankfully, hair loss is a condition with proven treatments that can reverse the hair loss and stop it dead in it's tracks. That said, there is only one proven method to regrow hair on a bald scalp and that is through surgical hair restoration. Hair transplant surgery has become reifined over the years and is now a viable option for hair loss sufferers worldwide.
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