Illnesses That Cause Hair Loss


More often than not, hair loss is caused by genetics and age. In rare cases, rapid hair loss can occur. This rapid hair loss can often be caused by a disease. In this article, we will go over illnesses that cause hair loss, whether or not it’s permanent, brittle hair causes, and what you can do to treat hair loss and unhealthy hair.

What Illness Causes Hair Loss?

Does autoimmune disease cause hair loss? There are several different things that can cause hair loss. If you’re experiencing rapid hair loss, it could be caused by a disease. You should seek a doctor or dermatologist to get to the root of your hair loss. Here are some of the autoimmune conditions that cause hair loss that can lead to hair loss:

  • Hereditary male-or-female-pattern baldness
  • Thyroid disease
  • Alopecia areata
  • Scalp infections
  • Diseases that cause scarring such as lichen planus
  • Some types of lupus

Hair loss can also be caused by medications used to treat cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, and heart problems. 

Is Autoimmune Hair Loss Permanent?

Unfortunately, autoimmune disorder hair loss can be very unpredictable with a high likelihood of spontaneous remission. The longer the hair loss goes on, the less likely the hair will regrow. There are several different treatment options used for autoimmune hair loss:

  • Local steroid injections
  • Steroid creams, lotions, or shampoos
  • Topical sensitizers
  • Oral systemic steroids
  • Elimination of emotional stress

These treatment options are not guaranteed to boost hair growth after autoimmune hair loss. However, health care professionals do agree that it is possible to reverse the effects of autoimmune hair loss. 

What Autoimmune Diseases Cause Hair Loss?

In an autoimmune disease, an individual’s immune system attacks some part of their body instead of the usual germs, viruses, etc. Under normal circumstances, the immune system recognizes the difference between invading bacteria and its own body, but for people with an autoimmune condition it becomes confused, and white blood cells attack some part of the body. Hair follicles are one thing that can be affected by an autoimmune disease, which can lead to hair loss. Here are some of the autoimmune disorders that can cause hair loss:

  • Alopecia areata
  • Alopecia Universalis
  • Lupus
  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Graves’ disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis

How to Stop Hair Loss From Autoimmune Disease

While the best treatment options for hair loss caused by autoimmune diseases are typically prescribed by professionals, there are some things you can do at home. Here are some ways you can stop hair loss naturally:

  • Massages - Scalp massages can help improve hair growth. This is because massages stimulate the scalp by stretching your hair follicles, encouraging hair growth and thickness.
  • Coconut oil - Coconut oil contains fatty acids that will penetrate the inside of a hair shaft, reducing protein loss from hair. Experts recommend that you use this product either directly before or after washing your hair, depending on your hair type.
  • Rosemary oil - Rosemary oil stimulates new hair growth and can be used to treat androgenetic alopecia. Mix a few drops of rosemary oil into a carrier oil and massage it into your hair and scalp before rinsing. Do this a few times per week. Add a few drops of rosemary oil into your shampoo and conditioner on a daily basis.
  • Aloe Vera -  Aloe Vera reduces dandruff and can unblock any hair follicles that may be blocked by excess oil. You can apply pure aloe vera gel to your scalp and hair a few times per week. You can also use shampoo and conditioner that contain aloe vera.

What is Alopecia?

Alopecia areata is an uncommon disorder that causes hair to fall out, typically in a rapid fashion. The amount of hair loss each individual experiences will differ from person to person. Some who suffer from alopecia experience hair loss in only a few spots while others lose hair all over their scalp. Sometimes hair will grow back only to fall out again. Here are some of the symptoms of alopecia:

  • Small bald patches on your scalp or other parts of your body
  • Patches may get larger and grow together into a bald spot
  • Hair grows back in one spot and falls out in another
  • You lose a lot of hair over a short time
  • More hair loss in cold weather
  • Fingernails and toenails become red, brittle, and pitted

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak with your doctor. 

What Causes Alopecia?

Research suggests that alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system that can damage hair follicles. For reasons still unknown, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. While more information is needed regarding the disease, experts believe you are more likely to develop the disease if you have:

  • A family history of alopecia areata
  • Asthma
  • Down syndrome
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitiligo 

Many conditions can cause hair loss. So your doctor may test your skin for a fungal infection or give you blood tests to check for thyroid, hormone, or immune system problems.

Supplements That Can Help

Taking care of your body with a proper diet, exercise routine, and supplement regimen can help you prevent hair loss. Supplements, such as a spermidine supplement, can help you live a longer life by inducing autophagy throughout your body. Autophagy is the body’s process of replacing older, potentially damaged cell parts, with newer healthier ones. Autophagy and hair growth are linked. Early research has shown autophagy to help promote hair growth by aiding in the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle.

As you age your body produces less and less spermidine within your cells. Eating a spermidine-rich diet can help maintain your spermidine levels, however it can be difficult to get your recommended daily intake of spermidine through diet alone. Spermidine supplementation can help ensure you meet your daily dose of spermidine.


  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.