3 Underlying Illnesses That Cause Hair Loss

illnesses and hair lossHair loss can be a problem in and of itself, caused by a condition or factors which have no other significant health effects. For example, this is the case with androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary hair loss condition that affects over three million Americans annually and is responsible for over 95 percent of hair loss cases in men and women. Sometimes, however, hair loss is an unfortunate result of other serious underlying medical conditions. When hair loss is caused by other illnesses, it can still be effectively addressed in conjunction with treatment for the condition which is responsible for the loss.

Some of the more well-known and common illnesses which can cause hair loss include:


A chronic and often painful autoimmune disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, commonly called lupus, afflicts at least 1.5 million Americans according to the Lupus Foundation of America. Lupus disproportionately affects women – it is nine times more common in women than in men – and hair loss is one of many unfortunate symptoms of this condition, along with severe fatigue, joint pain, joint swelling, headaches, and a rash on the cheeks and nose (known as “butterfly rash”).

Lupus causes the body’s immune system to create antibodies which attack healthy cells and tissue. This includes hair follicles. The antibodies cause the hair shaft to be rejected by the body, resulting in hair loss. Lupus symptoms tend to cyclical, coming and going between flare-ups and remission, which means hair may grow back naturally in some cases, only to again fall out. If, however, scarring occurs in affected hair follicles, the loss can be permanent.

Thyroid Disease

Found in our necks, the thyroid gland creates and releases hormones throughout the body. When the thyroid is not functioning properly, either by releasing too many hormones (hyperthyroidism) or too few (hypothyroidism), it can throw off the body’s natural functioning and cause many unwanted conditions. Since hormones are the fuel behind hair growth, a disruption in hormone production caused by a compromised thyroid will have a direct impact on hair growth, retention, and loss.


The high blood sugar levels which are at the heart of diabetes can wreak havoc on the body and cause a wide range of physical disruptions. Diabetes can cause hair loss when those elevated blood sugar levels interact with and change the shape of red blood cells. Misshapen red blood cells have a more difficult time traveling through smaller blood vessels, including the capillaries that supply vital blood to hair follicles. When that blood flow is disrupted, follicles may die and hair may fall out.

Not only can serious illness lead to hair loss, but many treatments for disease, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer patients, can also cause hair to fall out. Hair loss in those dealing with a challenging medical condition can make an already difficult situation even more so. At the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami, we can help develop a hair loss treatment program that works in conjunction with treatments for the underlying condition causing that loss.

Schedule a hair loss evaluation to learn more about effective treatment with the world-renowned experts at the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami. To learn more about treatment, contact our clinic at 305-925-0222.