Hair loss or telogen effluvium due to Crohn’s disease is more commonplace than you think. Many people with Crohn’s disease report excessive hair fall and receding hairline as its symptoms. In fact, the 2021 research review discovered that hair loss in men and women having an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is more likely than in the general population.
Let's understand what Crohn's disease is, how it can affect you, and what all possible Crohn’s hair loss treatments are available for you to achieve complete hair restoration.
Crohn’s Disease: Symptoms & Precautions
Crohn’s disease occurs in the digestive system and causes inflammation in any or all parts of your digestive tract going from the mouth all the way to the anus. In most cases, it causes inflammation in the small intestine and colon. Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. Although this condition isn’t curable, it can be managed with the right treatment so that you can enjoy a healthy and active life.
If you suspect having Crohn's disease symptoms, there can be severe symptoms sometimes followed by no symptoms lasting for weeks or years. The symptoms vary based on the severity of the condition and where in the digestive system it happens. The common symptoms you might experience include:
Severe diarrhoea causes dehydration, weight loss, and depletion of nutrients, fluids, and electrolytes in the body.
Rectal bleeding occurs because of ulcers in the intestines and leads to anaemia and iron deficiency.
Abdominal pain and nausea affect your appetite and reduce your daily intake of key nutrients.
Frequent bowel movements can make you eat less to control frequent episodes of diarrhoea, leading to malnutrition.
Hair loss in men and women can also be a symptom of Crohn’s disease.
Dietary Precautions to Manage Crohn’s Disease
Identify and eliminate problematic foods: Some foods like carbohydrates, dairy, low-fibre foods, and high-fibre foods can make the symptoms worse. Although this might vary from person to person, you can try to find out the troublesome foods and eliminate them from your diet.
Avoid dietary products: Dietary products can trigger abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and gas, especially in lactose-intolerant individuals. Including an enzyme product like Lactaid can help improve digestion.
Check your fibre: For some people, fibre can help improve your digestive system by adding bulk to your stool and thus preventing diarrhoea. However, people having restrictions in the intestines can end up with abdominal pain upon consuming fibre. Hence, always discuss the possible side effects with your doctor before beginning a high-fibre diet.
Drink ample water: Your intestines need plenty of fluids for proper function. Dehydration can aggravate Crohn’s disease symptoms and hair loss in men and women. Also, quit alcohol and caffeine.
What Is Telogen Effluvium?
Being the second most prevalent form of hair loss among adults, telogen effluvium is a condition of temporary alopecia wherein the affected person sees excessive and rapid hair loss. A fistful of hair may start to come out when you shower, or you may witness hair covering your pillow as you wake up. The good news is that TE doesn’t cause complete hair loss or balding, and the situation is reversible.
Telogen effluvium can develop from several environmental factors that ‘shock’ your active hair follicles and push them into a resting state. Events like giving birth or having surgery can shock your body to cause a reduction in the number of hair-growing follicles. Crohn's disease symptoms also cause a similar impact. As a result, the hair follicles in dormant or telogen state increases, causing excessive shedding or telogen effluvium after Crohn’s disease.
Telogen effluvium starts to show as diffused hair thinning which may not cover the entire scalp area. The thinning can be more severe in some sections of the scalp than the others. For most people, hair thinning is more noticeable on top of the scalp than on either sides or back of the head. A few chronic cases of Crohn's disease may witness a receding hairline.
Aside from telogen effluvium, other Crohn's disease symptoms include anaemia, weight loss, or nutritional deficiencies. However, as you manage your Crohn's disease condition and the flare subsides, your natural hair growth should restart in its usual way.
What Are Medication Side Effects?
Some evidence shows that one of the medications prescribed to treat Crohn’s disease triggers telogen effluvium. Hair loss in men and women could be a side effect of a strong medication called methotrexate. The Arthritis Foundation has found the use of methotrexate to be linked to the problem of hair loss and even receding hairline.
Methotrexate is an immune-system suppressant that helps fight inflammation by interfering with cell growth. Long-term use of this medicine also obstructs the growth of hair follicles, leading to mild to severe hair loss.
What Nutritional Deficiencies Take Place in Crohn’s Disease?
Since Crohn’s disease is the condition of an inflamed gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the affected person experiences difficulty digesting and absorbing nutrients. Even if you are taking a rich, balanced diet, poor digestion of your food and inadequate absorption of nutrients it contains lead to serious nutritional deficiencies in the body.
Diarrhoea is a common Crohn’s disease symptom that worsens the problem of malabsorption. When your body is running low on key nutrients needed for healthy hair growth, you may start to see excessive hair fall. Poor nutrient level in the body caused by Crohn’s disease also leads to unplanned weight loss, which is also a reason behind hair loss or telogen effluvium due to Crohn’s disease.
Hair follicle development and hair growth require a healthy supply of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients through the blood circulation. A 2015 research reveals that Crohn's disease patients can develop zinc, iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D deficiency.
What Are the Hair Loss Treatments for Crohn’s Disease?
Do you have Crohn’s disease and struggle with excessive hair loss, receding hairline, hair thinning or bald patches? Consult at your trusted hair loss clinic to receive personalised Crohn’s hair loss treatment and recommendations to maintain healthy hair growth.
Crohn’s medication change
Your hair specialist can help you review your Crohn’s medication types and dosage. You will be able to make necessary adjustments in medications depending on your hair restoration needs and other side effects of the medication you might be experiencing.
Hair loss treatment and medications
Experienced hair specialists can advise oral or topical medications and other hair fall treatments after identifying the source of your hair loss. Some common medications include minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Proscar and Propecia).
Your personalised hair loss treatment will also include correcting nutrient deficiencies caused by Crohn’s disease that directly impact the active hair follicles. You might also have to take lab tests (often simple blood tests) to ascertain your body’s vitamin and mineral levels. If vitamin and other deficiencies are identified, your hair loss clinic may advise certain supplements to help you overcome deficiencies and encourage hair restoration.
You might also want to avoid problematic foods to further minimise nutritional deficits. This is particularly important during a flare-up. Since every individual’s trigger foods vary, you may have to work with your doctor to find these troublesome foods, which could be raw fruits, certain vegetables, and dairy products.
Stress is not good for the working of your hair follicles. To ensure optimal hair restoration, ensure that your hair loss treatment also focuses on stress reduction. You can partner with your therapist or join a support group for people living with Crohn’s to better deal with the stress associated with this disease. Some tried and proven ways to relieve stress are:
- Do daily exercise or any physical activity
- Join a yoga or meditation class
- Listen to soothing music
- Take up your favourite hobby
- Spend time with friends and loved ones
Indeed, much research is still needed to establish a clear link between Crohn’s disease and hair loss. However, ample anecdotal evidence shows that hair loss can also result from Crohn’s disease. The same is true for people with other types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), especially during flare-ups.
People with Crohn’s are also vulnerable to developing alopecia areata or other autoimmune conditions. The health problems resulting from Crohn’s disease, such as stress, medication side effects, and nutrient deficiencies, also contribute to the problem of hair loss in men and women.
For the right Crohn’s hair loss treatment and personalised hair restoration solutions, please consult with our professional hair experts at our hair loss clinics All over UAE. It’s important to seek professional advice as soon as you notice uncommon changes to your hair, especially when Crohn’s disease symptoms worsen.