Different drugs cause hair loss at different stages of the hair growth cycle. Some medications affect hairs in the resting (telogen) phase, while others affect hairs in the growing (anagen) phase.
Hair loss in the telogen phase
Most medications that cause hair loss affect hairs in the resting phase.
Drugs that have an association with telogen hair loss include:
- angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- antidepressants, including paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft)
- antifungal medications
- antiseizure medications
- beta-blockers, which doctors use to treat heart problems and glaucoma
- birth control pills
- blood thinners, including heparin (the brand name depends on the form) and warfarin (Coumadin)
- cholesterol lowering drugs, such as clofibrate (Atromid-S) and gemfibrozil (Lopid)
- drugs for the treatment of thyroid problems
- famotidine (Pepcid) and other medications that treat stomach problems
- hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- isotretinoin (Accutane) and other vitamin A-based medications
- levodopa (Atamet) and other medications for Parkinson’s disease
- naproxen (Naprosyn) and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
Hair loss in the anagen phase
Some medications that cause hair loss affect hairs in the growing stage. The most notable example is chemotherapy drugs.
Hair loss can begin within 2–5 weeks of starting chemotherapy. However, individuals who receive the same drugs and undergo the same treatment can still have different hair loss experiences.
In rare cases, medications that contain the following ingredients can also cause hair loss during the anagen phase:
- boric acid
Colchicine (Colcrys), which doctors use to treat gout, can also sometimes cause the loss of hairs in the growing stage.
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