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Autoimmune Diseases and Hair Loss

Our immune system is our protector against toxins or foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses and dead or dying cells. But with Autoimmune disease, the body is confused and the inflammatory response attacks its healthy cells. Of the 100 or so known autoimmune diseases, the symptoms can vary and affect almost all parts of the body, including skin and hair growth.

The body needs a healthy environment and energy for hair growth. Energy is depleted in autoimmune disease where the body is constantly (or thinks it is) fighting disease. ‘Social suicide’ aside, our hair is not vital to survival so in this state, the energy that enabled hair growth shifts to helping fight disease. This can affect both males and females.

Autoimmune Diseases:

Autoimmune disease – Alopecia Areata

An overactive immune system can result in chronic illnesses like Alopecia Areata. The immune system mistakes the hair follicles for foreign invaders and tries to eliminate them. Common reasons for this type of hair loss are: medication, arthritis, anaemia, thyroid imbalances, or in women through pregnancy, childbirth or birth control pills.

  • Sudden, Patchy Hair Loss
  • Type 1 Alopecia Areata results in less than 50% hair loss
  • Type 2 Alopecia Areata results in more than 50% hair loss
  • 1 in 1000 people may suffer from this at some time in their life
  • Often caused by hormonal imbalances, which once resolved, enables hair to regrow. A blood test can confirm if this is the cause.

Eyebrows and lashes (Eyebrow Alopecia) can also be affected. Hair by Science’s eyebrow regrowth pen can help create the right environment for the eyebrows to regrow.

Autoimmune blog1-Alopecia-Areata

Alopecia Totalis

  • A genetic autoimmune disease, with an unidentified trigger
  • Complete loss of hair but only affecting the scalp
  • Two types of Alopecia Totalis – Immediate with Complete Loss or Slower with Patchy Loss increasing to full hair loss on the scalp
  • Usually affects children or young adults under 40

Alopecia Universalis

  • When in advanced stage, results in complete loss of body hair
  • Inherited as an autosomal recessive trait
  • People with this rare form of Alopecia Areata carry the gene
  • Male Pattern Hair Loss


Another genetic autoimmune disease. Environmental triggers such as sun exposure, or hormonal changes during pregnancy, can kick-start symptoms resulting in fatigue, anaemia, joint pain, headaches and hair loss.

Hashimoto’s Disease

Also known as Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis. This is where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland, increasing inflammation and over time an underactive Thyroid. Fatigue, muscle aches, weight and hair loss are associated with Hashimoto’s.

Graves Disease

An autoimmune disease also affecting the thyroid. The thyroid gland produces T3 and T4 hormones which control our energy in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces (TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), which instructs the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. In Graves’ disease, the immune system creates antibodies that mimic Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. The confused thyroid gland goes into overdrive producing an excess level of thyroid hormone creating an overactive thyroid or “hyperthyroidism”. Hyperthyroidism causes every function of the body to speed up, including heart rate, and also depleting energy sources faster. Symptoms include, insomnia, fatigue, mood changes, tremors, weight and hair loss.

Other Causes of Hair Loss:

  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Inadequate Nutrition and Diet
  • Excessive Hair Processing
  • Causes of Male Hair Loss
  • Causes of Female Hair Loss