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Accutane Hair Loss: Causes, Reversibility & Prevention

As well as being a miracle drug for severe acne, Accutane’s hair loss side effects can sometimes be a struggle. Isotretinoin, its active ingredient, is known to cause temporary hair loss by interrupting your hair cycle’s growth phase.

If you’ve noticed an increased shedding, and wondering why hair loss happens after accutane, here are some takeaways from the article to give you a basic idea about Accutane and hair loss:

  • HAIR LOSS FROM ACCUTANE IS POSSIBLE BUT NOT THAT COMMON.
  • LOWER DOSES CAN REDUCE HAIR LOSS.
  • ACCUTANE WON’T CAUSE FACIAL HAIR LOSS.
  • VITAMIN A AND SEBUM ARE THE MAIN REASONS FOR ACCUTANE HAIR LOSS.
  • ACCUTANE HAIR LOSS IS TEMPORARY.

Does Accutane Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss is a potential side effect if you’re using Accutane.

Isotretinoin, often referred to as Accutane, is a cystic acne medication and it falls under the class of drugs called retinoids, which you might be more familiar with. This active ingredient can cause telogen effluvium, a temporary hair loss condition. 

And in case you’re wondering does taking low dose Accutane cause less hair loss, yes, it does seem that way.

A 2023 study from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College found that taking less than 0.5 mg of isotretinoin a day resulted in hair loss for only 3.2% of people, whereas taking more than 0.5 mg led to hair loss in 5.7% of cases.

Does Accutane Cause Facial Hair Loss?

No, we can’t really say Accutane causes facial hair loss since there are no cases reported as such.

However, there is one study published in the International Journal of Trichology that isotretinoin therapy can potentially trigger hirsutism, an unusual facial hair growth resembling a male pattern.

Does Accutane Cause Dry Scalp Also?

Yes, Accutane can cause dry scalp because isotretinoin reduces the production of sebum, leading to dryness not only on the face but also on the scalp.

Dandruff from Accutane can also affect people who suffer from dry scalp. However, using moisturizing facial and hair products is usually recommended for this since it helps to minimize discomfort and dryness.

Does Accutane Kill Hair Follicles?

Accutane does not affect the hair follicles nor kill them. It is true that the hair growth phase can be affected and lead to telogen effluvium due to Accutane. 

Telogen Effluvium is a temporary and your hair will grow back eventually.

Does Retin-A Cause Hair Loss?

Retin-A is a topical acne treatment prescribed for mild acne and is not associated with any hair loss side effects. 

In fact, a 1986 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that when tretinoin is combined with minoxidil, it works better for treating hair loss than using minoxidil alone. 

Why Does Accutane Cause Hair Loss?

Well, knowing how accutane causes hair loss can help people deal with side effects and still get the benefits for their acne.

There are 2 main reasons why accutane causes hair loss: vitamin A and underproduction of sebum.

VITAMIN A: This is about isotretinoin being a derivative of vitamin A. When you consume high doses of vitamin A, it speeds up your hair growth cycle, making it reach the end of the growth phase prematurely. This means that hair follicles can’t keep up and produce new hair as quickly. 

UNDERPRODUCTION OF SEBUM: Sebum is basically a natural moisturizer your body produces for your skin. With isotretinoin, sebum production will be reduced to keep severe acne under control, so it causes dry hair and skin. Scalp sebum might make your hair look greasy, but moisture is actually vital for hair growth. This keeps your hair healthy and strong, preventing it from becoming dry, brittle, or prone to breakage. 

❗ Hair loss after Accutane can also be linked to vitamin B deficiency sometimes. Vitamin B plays a vital role in making red blood cells that provide oxygen to hair follicles. So, when your levels are low, it can make healthy hair growth harder.

Does Accutane Block DHT?

Yes, Accutane is known to reduce DHT levels. It’s possible that isotretinoin helps to free up testosterone and stop it from turning into DHT.

However, according to a study, it might also boost DHEA levels, which can make acne worse in people with too many androgen hormones. 

How Much Dosage of Isotretinoin a Lot For Hair?

Your healthcare provider should be deciding on the right isotretinoin dosage, but typically, it’s 0.5 to 1.0 mg per kilogram of body weight daily.

However, if you experience hair loss during the current dosage, it can be adjusted since lower Accutane doses are less likely to cause hair shedding.

How Common Is Hair Loss on Accutane?

Hair loss is actually not that common on Accutane, in fact, it happens in only 10% of cases.

Based on a 2022 study from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, between 0.28% and 12.0% of patients experience hair loss while on accutane, which makes isotretinoin induced hair loss a rare side effect. 

Does Accutane Cause Permanent Hair Loss?

Accutane hair loss is not permanent, the hair grows back most of the time. However, it’s important to understand that temporary doesn’t imply instant hair regrowth. It can take about 6 to 8 months since accutane hair loss is caused by an interruption to the normal hair cycle.

Your hair will start growing back once the hair cycle gets back to normal, confirming that accutane hair loss is actually reversible.

How to Stop Hair Loss After Accutane

Because Accutane causes temporary hair loss, it will stop after discontinuing the medication. The best medication-caused hair loss solution is stopping the treatment under the control of your doctor. After your vitamin A and sebum levels return to normal, your hair cycle will naturally recover. In about 6-8 months, you can expect noticeable hair growth.

How to Prevent Hair Loss on Accutane

Although completely preventing accutane related hair loss might not be entirely possible, you can still practice certain things to reduce the amount of shedding and the effects of Accutane on your hair.

  • ACCUTANE DOSE REDUCTION  
  • TAKING VITAMIN B SUPPLEMENT 
  • MANAGING STRESS LEVELS
  • FOLLOWING A BALANCED DIET RICH IN PROTEIN, LEAFY GREENS, AND WHOLE GRAINS
  • LEAVE IN CONDITIONERS FOR MOISTURE
  • MINIMIZE SUN EXPOSURE
  • USING A FRAGRANCE/SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOO
  • SHAMPOOING LESS FREQUENTLY

What Kind of Shampoo Do You Need to Use While on Accutane?

Preventing side effects such as dryness, itchiness, and irritation while on Accutane is important for your hair and scalp health.

Consider transitioning to specialized shampoos designed for this purpose.

  • FRAGRANCE/SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOOS
  • SHAMPOOS CONTAINING NON-IRRITATING/GENTLE INGREDIENTS 
  • MOISTURIZING SHAMPOOS
  • HYPOALLERGENIC SHAMPOOS
  • pH-BALANCED SHAMPOOS 
  • DERMATOLOGICALLY TESTED ANTI-DANDRUFF SHAMPOOS

How Can I Protect My Liver from Accutane Not to Lose Hair?

To protect your liver from Accutane to not lose hair, there are some things you can be careful about such as:

  • REGULAR CHECK-UPS AND BLOOD TESTS
  • AVOIDING ALCOHOL DURING MEDICATION
  • FOLLOWING A BALANCED DIET
  • EXERCISING 
  • DRINKING A LOT OF WATER

What's the Connection Between Accutane and Liver?

While it’s not that easy for Accutane to damage the liver. High doses without proper precautions can increase serum aminotransferase levels, which can put stress as a result. The liver usually improves on its own.

If not, your doctor might tell you to stop taking Accutane before the levels get too high and cause serious harm.

One of the signs your liver is having a hard time functioning is hair loss. In this case, it’ll be a good idea to do a liver function test.

How Much Water Should I Drink to Prevent Accutane Hair Loss?

It is true that drinking 8-12 glasses a day supports your liver and helps with dry skin and lips. A healthy liver supports healthy hair. However, there’s not enough scientific evidence of it preventing isotretinoin hair loss. Hair loss during Accutane is often connected to the drug’s side effects and individual reactions, and it may not be entirely preventable through hydration alone.

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