Thyroid Hair Loss Vs. Male Pattern Baldness: What's The Difference?

Hair health is like a barometer for the overall wellbeing of your body. Although hair falling out or thinning can be an indicator of illness, it can also happen due to lifestyle habits or genetics. Because multiple health conditions can lead to hair loss, it is essential to determine the underlying cause so doctors can prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, and hair loss due to thyroid problems are common conditions. These two types of hair loss have very different causes and lead to distinct patterns of hair thinning or baldness.

Hair Loss and Your Thyroid

The thyroid produces a hormone responsible for regulating many bodily functions, including heart rate, metabolism, and energy. It also plays a role in how well your hair and nails grow.

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Disruptions to thyroid function can tamper with the hair growth cycle, causing the hair’s resting phase to carry on for a longer amount of time. Because hair is suspended in rest mode, it stops regenerating and becomes thinner throughout the scalp. Both underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can cause hair loss.

“Thyroid hormone is essential to the development and maintenance of the hair follicle; thus, any disease-causing thyroid dysfunction can result in hair loss,” plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist Gary Linkov, MD tells ishonest Connect to Care. “The hair loss associated with thyroid disease is typically diffuse and can affect not only scalp hair but also body hair. Thyroid-associated hair loss usually improves with treatment of the underlying thyroid disease, though it may take several months before hair regrowth occurs.”

What Is Male Pattern Baldness?

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Approximately half of the male population will experience androgenetic alopecia in their lifetime, says the US National Library of Medicine. The condition can also affect women and has a strong link to genetics.

Patients with androgenetic alopecia have scalps with greater sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which affects hair follicle output and shortens the growth phase of the hair re-growth cycle. Over time, hairs become thinner and stop growing in localized areas like the top of the head.

How to Know the Difference

Androgenetic alopecia and hair loss caused by thyroid issues cause hair to fall out in distinct patterns. This allows doctors to easily distinguish between the two types of hair loss.

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“Hair loss from hypothyroidism is more diffuse and does not have a pattern,” physician and medical communications writer Leann Poston, MD tells ishonest Connect to Care. “It involves the entire scalp. The ability to see the scalp through the overlying hair is typical.”

“Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia can occur in both men and women,” says Poston. “Men typically notice a thinning of hair on the top and front of the head above both temples. Women notice it more on the top and crown of the head. In women, the hairline does not recede as it does in men.”

If your doctor suspects that thyroid problems are causing your hair loss, they will run a blood test. “A diagnostic blood test can measure the Thyroid- Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Excess TSH usually indicates hypothyroidism, while abnormally low levels suggest hyperthyroidism,” hair loss specialist and hair restoration surgeon Abraham Armani, MD tells ishonest Connect to Care. “Your treating physician may prescribe a thyroid hormone medication to restore levels to normal.”

Get Help Now

Don’t wait. The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.

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