What To Do About Lupus Hair Loss

What To Do About Lupus Hair Loss

What is Lupus?

Lupus, an autoimmune disease most common in young women, can lead to intense bouts with pain, inflammation, and tissue damage.  Most common in Asian, Latino, African American and Native American women, the cause of lupus is not always determinable.  Additionally, lupus can be difficult to diagnose; however, it is not contagious.  In some cases lupus can be triggered by medication and approximately ten percent of all cases stem from heredity.  Symptoms include: hair loss, extreme fatigue, pain or swelling in joints, purple/pale fingers and toes, and nose or mouth ulcers, among others. Lupus hair loss adds to the stress of the person suffering from Lupus, but we hope the information below can help you determine what to do.

There Are Different Types of Lupus

The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which affects multiple organs.  The other types of lupus, including subacute cutaneous erythematosus (SCE) and discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), mainly affect the skin with only ten percent of cases developing into SLE.  SCE is marked by inflammation and sores on skin that is exposed to the sun and DLE is a chronic rash that can cover the scalp, face and ears in a scaly, thick red layer.  In cases of lupus diagnosis, steroids can be prescribed to control inflammation and immunosuppressive drugs limit the activity of the immune system, but scarring is always a risk.

Hair Loss Caused by Lupus

Hair loss, or alopecia, is one of the first symptoms of lupus and affects approximately 50% of lupus patients to some degree.  Another issue, “lupus hair”, can also result in which the hair becomes brittle and breaks.  Some commonly prescribed lupus drugs, like Prednisone, can be responsible for hair loss; however, hair will normally grow back as soon as the medication is stopped.  SLE, on the other hand, can destroy the hair follicles and the rashes caused by skin lupus (SCE and DLE) can badly scar hair follicles, both resulting in hair loss.  The good news is that hair can grow back, but it is never a guarantee.  With SLE, the lupus flares are unpredictable so some are worse than others and can result is drastic hair loss.  Hair often will grow back after such flares, but it can take up to six months.  In skin lupus, though, the hair loss can be permanent if the hair follicles are scarred.  In any case, the most important thing is to seek early treatment; seeing a doctor immediately in the event of an outbreak can help to prevent permanent hair loss.

What Are Your Options In Dealing with Hair Loss Caused By Lupus?

There are some options for patients suffering from lupus hair loss that can assist either temporarily or long term.  Extensions, hair toppers, or partial/full wigs (without chemical or glue attachments) can all be fun, realistic solutions that remove the appearance of hair loss.  Use of a hair thickener, volumizer, gentle shampoo, biotin supplements, and satin or silk pillowcases can all assist in enhancing the look of the hair that remains.  Additionally, patients should consider a shorter hair cut or a lighter hair color to take away both weight and stark color contrast between hair and the scalp.

Overall, while lupus is not a diagnosis that anyone would want to have, it does not have to be a life-defining disease.  Instead, if patients take their medications on schedule, seek immediate medical attention for developing rashes, and have honest discussions with their medical doctors about the dosages and types of medications they are on, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Also, by avoiding triggers – including stress, the sun, and halogen/fluorescent lights – and getting enough rest, patients can take back some control of their own health.