Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Hair Loss in Women?

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It is a kind of DMARD (Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic). It is commonly used for the first choice of treatment in treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It can be given with other types of DMARD or/and biological treatment.

It can help suppress the immune system so thus will help control RA. It works by targeting cells that causing inflammation. The goal is to help slow down the progression and growth of these cells.

But it can affect the hair follicles, too. Hair loss is a common side effect, others include; diarrhea, appetite changes (especially decreased appetite), general feeling of sick, sore mouth, and headache.

Arava (familiar called as ‘Leflunomide’)

It also belongs to the group of DMARD. It can be prescribed with methotrexate. The way of how it works to treat RA is similar to methotrexate. And it also could carry the risk of hair loss.

Humira (etanercept)

It is a kind of biologic medication for RA. It is usually given with injection. It works by stopping and preventing certain chemicals in the bloodstream from activating the immune system that can make RA get worse.

This kind of new treatment could pose the risk of hair loss. Unfortunately, there is still no explanation why this occurs. But some expert think that the treatment affects the balance of cytokines (a messenger molecule), and this may affect the hair growth.

Prognosis and outlook

RA is not the only one of autoimmune disorder that poses the risk of hair loss.

Lupus and alopecia areata are other disorders associated with immune system abnormality that can cause hair loss, too – even the impact is more severe than what happen in RA.

Alopecia areata could cause permanent hair loss. Unfortunately, it is also pretty common in people with a family history of other autoimmune conditions, such as RA, thyroid disease, and type-1 diabetes.

The good news, hair loss due to RA is usually mild – it is likely to be mild thinning hair, not shedding of full patches. See also some home remedies for female thinning hair in this section!

The problem is usually more likely to be associated with the treatment for RA. In other words, it usually resolves once you stop taking the medication that triggers the problem.

If the problem is mild, your doctor usually will not ask you to change the medicine. But if it is too bad or if you do find a significant impact on your daily routines, your doctor can lower the dose or if necessary he /she will replace the medicine!

In a few cases, switching medicine is not easy due to certain reason. If you cannot take switching, you may be suggested to see a dermatologist for hair regrowth treatment that can work together with your RA treatment.

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