Alopecia and diet - reader stories

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Alopecia (hair loss) can be associated with

  • gluten intolerance
  • chronic diarrhoea eg due to irritable/inflammatory bowel symptoms

Reader reports

Alopecia related to gluten intolerance [547]

" I suffered from alopecia areata on and off for many years without having any clue about what caused it. It was very embarrassing and difficult for my self confidence. I only stumbled across the answer by accident after I found out about bread preservative 282 … I was staying with people who ate preserved bread so it was easier for me to eat rice cakes instead, and I noticed my alopecia improving. I have been gluten free now for three years and have had no more problems with alopecia

“Your mention of alopecia areata and gluten in "Fed Up" led to my being diagnosed with coeliac disease. No one else seemed to know anything about it, so I really wanted to say thank you. It has led to a huge improvement in my quality of life

“The information on your website about alopecia areata and gluten is the first bit of useful advice I have received suggesting that alopecia could have another association besides stress

Alopecia related to additive-induced irritable bowel

“When my son he was 3 he got cdiff, an infection of the gut caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile, often after antibiotics. It cleared but he would still have bloody mucus stools ….. At school he had Cheez-its (cheese crackers containing annatto natural colouring 160b). Broke out into hives. (This had happened before when he was 18 months he had Goldfish -a type of biscuit containing annatto and broke out into hives) …  During the same period he developed alopecia. I talked with his gastro and he said take him off all annatto give it three weeks and see what happens.  His hair grew back, he gained 10 lbs and has had normal stool since!  He is 8 now.  It's not all a coincidence. I know in my mama gut annatto is evil.  This is his story” – Angela from USA [1468]

More info

Our alopecia factsheet

References

Gluten

Corazza GR and others, Gastroenterology, Celiac disease and alopecia areata: report of a new association,1995;109(4):1333-7

This was the first report of the association between CD and alopecia areata in a routine clinical practice in Italy. The first patient, a 14 year old boy, was diagnosed with CD due to malabsorption symptoms. A gluten-free diet resulted in complete regrowth of scalp and body hair. Another 3 patients with alopecia areata but no intestinal symptoms, however, biopsy showed they had CD.

Diarrhoea

Jalal Maghfou et al, The Association between Alopecia and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Dermatology. 2021;237(4):658-672. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33440387/

Alopecia can also be a side-effect of medications

M E Llau et al, Drug-induced alopecia: review of the literature, Therapie. Mar-Apr 1995;50(2):145-50. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7631289/

Types of drugs thought to cause hair loss include: Acne medications containing vitamin A (retinoids), antibiotics and antifungal drugs, antidepressants, birth control pills, anticlotting drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system, drugs that treat cancer, epilepsy drugs (anticonvulsants), high blood pressure medications (anti-hypertensives), such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics, hormone replacement therapy, mood stabilizers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),  Parkinson's disease drugs, steroids, Tamoxifen, thyroid medications, weight loss drugs. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/drug-induced-hair-loss-2