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Lupus Hair Loss: Understanding, Coping and Treating

Lupus hair loss is a common outcome of the autoimmune disease. Lupus causes the immune system to attack the healthy parts of the body, including the hair follicles.

Dealing with lupus of the scalp and hair loss can be tough due to its severe symptoms. However, gaining a better understanding can make your journey easier.

So, before we delve deeper let’s review some critical key points:

  • HAIR LOSS IS A COMMON SYMPTOM OF LUPUS.
  • IT CAN CAUSE BOTH SCARRING AND NON-SCARRING ALOPECIA.
  • DISCOID LUPUS CAN CAUSE LESIONS DAMAGE THE HAIR FOLLICLES.
  • SYMPTOMS OF HAIR LOSS FROM LUPUS CAN BE RELIEVED.

Does Lupus Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, lupus is known to cause hair loss. It’s also referred as alopecia in lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, that causes the immune system to accidentally attack healthy cells of your body, such as tissues and organs. This can result in skin problems, including hair loss.

In fact, hair loss might be an early indicator of lupus.

Can Lupus Cause Dry Scalp?

Although not a determining symptom of this disease, it’s possible to experience dry flakey scalp skin with lupus.

Other than the disease itself, some medicines that are prescribed to lupus patients with hydroxychloroquine as an active ingredient can also have this side effect.

What Type of Lupus Causes Your Hair Loss?

There are basically two types of lupus that cause hair loss.

  • DISCOID LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS (DLE)
  • SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS (SLE)


Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) causes round lesions to form on the scalp. These lesions cause inflammation and damage your hair follicles. DLE hair loss often starts as non-scarring alopecia but turns into scarring hair loss in the later stages of the disease.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) damages hair follicles and causes complete scalp hair loss, thinning, or bald patches in specific areas. It can also weaken the hair and result in a broken hair appearance.

Even though it’s rare, Subacute lupus erythematosus (SCLE), Tumid lupus erythematosus (TLE), and, Lupus erythematosus panniculitis (LEP) can also cause hair loss on the scalp.

Why Do People with Lupus Experience Hair Loss?

Instead of protecting healthy cells of the body, lupus patients have their immune response mistakenly targeting them.

Hair loss due to autoimmune disorders happens as a result of this dysfunction, healthy hair follicles are also attacked, which can cause disruptions in the hair cycle or even inflammation in severe cases.

Is Hair Loss Common In Lupus?

Yes, hair loss is quite common among lupus patients.

According to research, 85% of systemic lupus patients experience hair loss. Meaning, every 85 people out of 100 who suffer from Lupus, experience hair loss.

Does Everyone with Lupus Lose Their Hair?

Not everyone experiences hair loss due to lupus directly. Hair loss can be a symptom, but it’s not universal.

The medications used for it can also cause hair loss as a side effect.

⚠️ Because lupus is a complex disease, not everyone with lupus who loses hair has the same experience. The impact can vary from person to person in terms of its severity.

How Do I Know If Hair Loss Is Due to Lupus?

To find out whether you’re experiencing hair loss due to lupus, you should first understand what does hair loss from lupus look like. Watch out for specific signs and symptoms.

  • INFLAMMATION
  • EXCESSIVE HAIR SHEDDING 
  • REDUCED HAIR DENSITY IN PATCHES/HAIR THINNING
  • HAIR FALLING OUT IN CLUMPS
  • DYSPIGMENTATION ON SCALP SKIN
  • PHOTOSENSITIVITY
  • DRY LUPUS HAIR ALONG HAIRLINE 
  • HAIR AT THE FRONTAL AREA BREAKING OFF
  • DISCOID LESIONS CAUSING BALD SPOTS


❗ Discoid lesions are pink-colored, disc-shaped sores caused by a type of lupus called discoid lupus erythematosus.  

According to a 2023 study led by Dr. Nayaab Bakshi, 98% of antinuclear antibody (ANA) screening tests of SLE patients came back positive. This shows that if you have lupus, you can expect a positive ANA test, and if it is negative, you may not have lupus.

Is Hair Loss a Symptom of Lupus?

Yes, hair loss is one of the lupus symptoms. As a matter of fact, according to the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) criteria, non-scarring alopecia is a diagnosis criterion for SLE.

This is because non-scarring hair loss has a 95.7% specificity to SLE disease, meaning patients who have non-scarring alopecia have a 95.7% likelihood of having SLE.

Can Lupus Hair Loss Be Reversed?

While it’s possible for lupus hair loss to grow back, it can become a permanent issue in certain instances, unfortunately.

One instance is discoid lupus, a common cause of scarring alopecia. Although not directly causing permanent hair loss, if discoid lesions are left untreated, they’ll get worse and eventually lead to permanent hair loss.

Does Hair Transplant Work for Lupus?

If you’re dealing with permanent hair loss and want to explore options for reversing it, getting a hair transplant could be a solution.

Many people have concerns about the safety of this procedure, but you can ensure your safety by consulting experienced hair transplant surgeons and reputable centers.

Does a Dermatologist Treat Lupus Hair Loss?

Dermatologists can help you improve hair loss from lupus, discoid rashes, and other skin-related problems. They’ll accurately diagnose your condition by doing a thorough examination. Then, they can prescribe proper medications.

  • IMMUNOSUPPRESSANTS (METHOTREXATE, ETC)
  • ANTIMALARIAL DRUGS
  • CORTICOSTEROIDS
  • RETINOIDS
  • BIOLOGIC DRUGS
  • PROTOPIC
  • DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE (DHEA)
  • MINOXIDIL


Then, they prepare a treatment plan to keep the hair loss under control and prevent discoid lesions from causing scarring permanent alopecia. 

How Do You Stop Hair Loss From Lupus?

To stop lupus related hair loss, first, the disease should be taken care of.

However, because lupus is a chronic disease, it doesn’t really have a cure. With the proper treatments and care, it can go into remission and hair loss symptoms can improve.

  • AVOIDING SUN EXPOSURE
  • BALANCED DIET
  • MANAGEMENT OF STRESS LEVELS
  • USING HELPFUL SUPPLEMENTS (OMEGA-3, VITAMINS, IRON, CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, ETC.)
  • CHANGING CURRENT MEDICATION
  • TACROLIMUS OINTMENT
  • USING A SATIN PILLOWCASE


⚠️ Taking zinc as a supplement for lupus might not be the best idea. Based on a study, you don’t need too much zinc, in fact, having less zinc if you’re suffering from SLE might even lower the antibodies, thus making the symptoms better.

Can I Wash My Hair During Discoid Lupus Flare?

You can wash your hair with discoid lupus and during a lupus flare but there are some things you should pay attention to so that it doesn’t get more flared.

First and foremost, consider using baby shampoo and gently washing your hair less often to reduce the symptoms of lesions.

Even if it’s a baby shampoo or a gentle one, when you’re first trying it out, do a test first to avoid any reaction possible.

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