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What Is the Connection between Prednisone and Hair Loss?

By Dorothy Bland
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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The main connection between prednisone and hair loss seems to be that, as a side effect of using of the drug, some users have complained of thinning hair. Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid often prescribed to treat inflammation. Synthetic corticosteroids refer to a manufactured version of the steroid hormone that is naturally produced in the adrenal gland. By affecting the balance of these hormones, the normal cycle of hair growth may be affected, and the hair may become brittle. Hair loss may also occur in patients once they stop taking the medication or while using the drug for cancer treatment.

It appears that some of the hair loss issues faced by prednisone users may not be directly caused by the hair falling out, but instead by the fact that high doses of the drug can make hair more brittle. This brittleness can make hair more fragile and increase shedding and breakage. Hair thinning may become more severe in individuals taking prednisone who also choose to use a chemical process on their hair such as hair dye or a perm. The chemicals used in these processes can strip the hair and cause it to become wispier and finer than average. To counterbalance the dryness and prevent hair loss, the use of moisturizing treatments and conditioners may be useful.

Interestingly, this drug and other corticosteroids may be prescribed to treat alopecia areata, a form of hair loss that is thought to occur when the immune system views hair follicles as a foreign object and destroys these healthy tissues. As a result of the attack, normal hair growth is suspended and bald patches may begin appearing in the scalp. As prednisone is an anti-inflammatory drug, it may sometimes be used to slow or reverse the condition. The hair loss that some individuals notice may be attributed to the fact that, the once treatment is stopped, the immune system response will no longer be suppressed.

Even though a prednisone user may suspect that his hair loss is caused by taking the drug, losing hair can have many causes that may not always be obvious. Chemotherapy patients, for instance, are often prescribed this corticosteroid as part of the treatment process. If hair loss occurs in these individuals, the cause may actually be another chemotherapy drug. Radiation therapy, which also kills healthy cells, may also cause hair loss that occurs only in the area of the body where the radiation was given.

Ultimately, the connection between prednisone and hair loss is still being explored. For an accurate diagnosis of the cause of hair loss and treatment, people who use this or other corticosteroids should speak with a healthcare professional. If the connection between the two is clearly indicated, a change in dosage or the use of additional medications may be used to help avoid this side effect.

Can You Prevent Hair Loss from Prednisone?

In most cases, hair loss will naturally reverse after you taper off a prednisone treatment regimen. If you plan to start prednisone in the near future, though, you might want to prevent hair loss from happening in the first place. There are a few options you can try that may offer a proactive solution to prednisone-induced hair loss.

Some users report that starting a minoxidil treatment plan prior to starting prednisone can help stave off some of the hair loss. Minoxidil works by altering the hair growth cycle and shortening its resting phase. Similarly, you can invest in biotin supplements and start taking these before and during your prednisone treatment. Biotin works why stimulating the body’s production of keratin, which in turn, strengthens the strands of hair while increasing follicular growth.

Maintaining a healthy diet full of nutrients is also essential to preventing hair loss from prednisone. Some hair loss is caused or exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies, so it’s imperative that you get enough protein and vitamins from your diet.

Prednisone and Hair Loss: Will It Grow Back?

If you’ve already undergone a prednisone treatment and experienced hair loss, you’re likely wondering if it will ever grow back. In most cases, the answer is yes. The majority of people who experience this side effect will notice that their hair begins regrowing within a month or two after they have stopped prednisone.

For some people, it may take longer, though. It may take up to three to six months, or in some cases, 12 to 18 months. In order to ensure that your hair grows back, you can apply some of the aforementioned preventative treatments such as using minoxidil or biotin and maintaining a healthy diet.

In rare instances, prednisone patients might not see regrowth after hair loss. This is more common for men than it is for women, though it can affect both. If you experience this, you should talk to your doctor about potential treatment methods for reversing the hair loss.

Does Prednisone Affect Hair Texture?

Prednisone can affect hair growth, but can it affect hair texture, too? Yes. Prednisone can affect the texture of hair on your scalp and your body — and interestingly, it often has the opposite effect on each. Hair on the body is sometimes reported to become thicker while hair on the scalp is often said to become more brittle.

This contrast is more common amongst women. Hirsutism — or male-pattern hair growth throughout the body — is a known side effect of prednisone. It may occur in combination with a thinning of the hair and a change in its texture. This is commonly attributed to prednisone’s ability to increase the concentration of androgens in the body.

Hair texture can be affected by prednisone in both men and women, though. It may make hair more brittle and porous by increasing the level of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. Too much DHT makes hair follicles shrink, thus becoming more brittle and thin.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1006301 — On Feb 26, 2022

I took this medication and I noticed that my hair was falling out in spots. I let my doctor know, and she said don't take any more of the medication. She said there's nothing she can do for my hair loss. Today it still looks the same. Every time I comb my hair, I get hair in my comb. I shampoo it, but nothing changes. It's still falling out.

By anon1000056 — On May 16, 2018

I was prescribed prednisone in March, 2018 for uveitis. I started with 30mg daily for two weeks, then 25MG daily for 10 days, then 20 MG daily for 10 days, etc. I am currently on 4MG daily and will by the middle of June be weaned off completely.

My hair volume has diminished by 50 percent over the past three weeks. I have thinned in the front but the majority of my thinning is in the back. It looks terrible but I do have my vision and hopefully the hair will regrow. I also had 9 months of toxic mold exposure so I am not sure if the hair loss is due to mold exposure, prednisone or both.

By anon999056 — On Oct 19, 2017

I started with 80mcg a day for kidney disease. Have bruising and hair loss everywhere but on my face. My Kidney disease is under control and I have tapered down to 15mcg a day. At what point in taper does hair growth restart?

By anon996318 — On Aug 12, 2016

I was put on prednisone for two months straight at 40mg first thing in the morning with food. The following month after my prednisone use, my hair began falling out in the shower and progressed to handfuls of hair shedding.

It's been 12 weeks since my last dose of prednisone and the hair is growing back, slowly, but surely. I still have bald spots near each temple, above the back of my neck and right above my forehead. I supplemented the growth with some exercise and balanced my diet hoping it would contribute to my progress, and it seems to be helping.

By anon935020 — On Feb 23, 2014

I took prednisone 60mg for sudden sensorineural hearing loss and alongside hyperbaric treatment, it worked! However, after two months on high dose prednisone, I weaned off. It seemed like no problem.

Two months later, I had massive hair shed. I know it was stress plus the prednisone. I am hoping it is a temporary situation. It is the withdrawal that is the issue, I believe, not the drug itself.

I want to be Candyquilt's dog next time and get the thick hair. I got my hearing back, though, so I will take the hair loss for now and hope for the best.

By anon925831 — On Jan 14, 2014

I have been taking prednisone for almost a year. The highest dose I was on was 20mg. Now that I am being weaned off it, my hair has thinned and continues to fall out. I had very thick hair but am worried about the continual loss. I wonder how soon after I get off the prednisone will the hair loss stop. --F

By literally45 — On Dec 28, 2013

@ZipLine-- Yes, I have the same problem. I've been on prednisone for three years now. I did not have any hair thinning during the first two years but now I do. My doctor said that it's a side effect of prednisone. The worst part is that I can't come off of the medication yet and there is no way to prevent hair thinning.

By candyquilt — On Dec 27, 2013

@ZipLine-- I think in some people, prednisone causes hair thinning and hair loss, while in others, it actually makes hair grow out thicker.

I experienced hair loss with prednisone, but only after I started withdrawing from the drug. Withdrawing from prednisone affects the adrenal system and can cause problems like hypothyroidism. Hair loss can be one of the withdrawal symptoms. I had hair loss for a few weeks, but things went back to normal after that.

My dog actually took prednisone for a while too and he experienced the exact opposite. His hair grew stronger and thicker.

By ZipLine — On Dec 27, 2013

I started taking prednisone two months ago for asthma. A few weeks ago, I noticed that my hair is shedding a lot more than usual. When I come out of the shower, there is a bunch of hair remaining in the tub and it's scaring me. I'm not taking any other medications, so the cause has to be prednisone. I've made an appointment with my doctor. I'm going to ask him if I can switch to something else.

Has anyone else had hair loss with prednisone?

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