Hair loss is a relatively rare complication of RA. When it does happen, it usually isn't severe enough to be a cause for alarm. It can cause your hair to thin out in places, rather than literally falling out in patches. However, if you are already under the effects of one systemic autoimmune disease, it could put you at risk of developing others. An example of this would be alopecia areata, which can cause loss of hair on the scalp or even all over the body.
Certain medications for RA also have the potential for causing hair loss as a side effect. The most common types prescribed by health practitioners to treat RA are disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). They manage RA by suppressing your immune system, which, in turn, reduces chronic inflammation. There are also several types of DMARDs, the most common of which is methotrexate.
Initially used as an anti-cancer drug, methotrexate works by stopping the growth of skin cells in order to stop the formation of scales. Because of the way it works, however, the drug can also stop the growth of cells that support hair follicles. This causes the hair follicles to weaken, making it easier for hair to come loose. The drug also reduces the body's levels of the B vitamin folate, which promotes healthy hair. Despite this, hair loss only happens to about one to three percent of people taking methotrexate.
Another DMARD prescribed by health practitioners is leflunomide, which is taken in combination either with or instead of methotrexate. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 10 percent of users experience hair loss.
Without outside influence, each strand of hair on your head has a lifespan of about two to five years. However, there are certain circumstances and lifestyle factors that can affect your hairfall rate. Whether your hair loss is caused by a chronic or even short-term health condition, there are home remedies you can adopt to protect your hair and make them less likely to fall out.
Health.news has everything you need to know about rheumatoid arthritis and ways on how to deal with its symptoms.