If your hair is feeling a little less full these days, it’s easy to wonder … is my PsA to blame?
Your joints are aching. Your skin is irritated and flaking. And you’ve just found an alarming amount of hair in your brush. You’re already dealing with so many frustrating symptoms, and now you might worry that psoriatic arthritis causes hair loss, too. How much more unfair can this condition get?
First, some slightly good news: psoriatic arthritis doesn’t necessarily cause hair loss in and of itself. So if you’re living with this chronic condition, you shouldn’t assume you’ll have to say goodbye to your lovely locks.
That being said, there are several correlated reasons you might experience hair loss if you’re living with PsA.
Because you’re experiencing an increased level of inflammation with PsA, it can sometimes trigger temporary stress-related hair loss. Or, if psoriasis develops on your scalp, excessive scratching or itching may cause hair follicle damage.
Certain PsA medications may also cause hair loss as a side effect.
But even if you’re experiencing psoriatic alopecia — the medical term for psoriasis-impacted hair loss — hope isn’t lost. Hair almost always grows back once the condition is managed.
Read on for more details about the type of hair loss linked to psoriatic arthritis, as well as treatments for scalp psoriasis and hair loss.
Scratching at your scalp may cause damage to hair follicles, which in turn can trigger hair loss. If the scratching is severe and causes scarring, the follicle may not be able to regrow — but follicle scarring is quite rare.
Though the arthritis itself doesn’t affect your scalp or hair follicles directly, it can raise inflammation levels. This stress on the body can trigger telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium is a type of temporary hair loss. It typically affects the top of your scalp. Luckily, it’s extremely rare that it would cause your hairline to recede, or make you lose all your hair.
And the keyword here is temporary. TE is not permanent, and in most cases, hair returns to its normal growth pattern within 6 months (though it may take up to 18 months to fill back in completely).
Symptoms of telogen effluvium include:
Stress can trigger flares of psoriasis in addition to causing arthritic flare-ups. If that psoriasis impacts the scalp, itching may be unavoidable, which in turn, may harm hair follicles.
Lowering stress has all sorts of benefits beyond preventing hair loss, of course. Practice yoga, meditate, and connect with nature and loved ones to keep stress levels low.
Inflammation is a common symptom of PsA, but one that may trigger telogen effluvium (temporary, stress-related hair loss).
Talk with your doctor about medications to help manage inflammation and pain. There are also self-care practices you can do at home to help reduce inflammation day to day.
Some medications that can help reduce PsA and psoriasis symptoms have an unfortunate side effect of hair loss. That might include:
The world of pharmaceuticals offers many treatments for scalp psoriasis, including:
Additionally, avoiding stress and practicing low-inflammation activities should reduce the odds of hair loss.
Hair loss may have a correlation with psoriatic arthritis, but it’s very unlikely to be permanent. If your hair loss may be caused by medication, talk with your doctor about alternative options.
Medically reviewed on October 28, 2023
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