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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sisterlocks & Lupus

A Sisterlocker emailed me writing that she has Lupus and wants tips on hair loss. I reached out to a doctor friend and 2 women I know with Lupus as well as a nurse practitioner. I don't have Lupus so it was an education for me. Thanks for trusting me and giving me the opportunity to blog about this subject.


Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body's immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.

 No one knows for sure what causes lupus. But some groups of people have higher rates of lupus. African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women. African-American women tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms than white women.

Lupus can cause anemia and hair loss itself. Hair loss is enhanced with iron deficiency, with or without anemia. A common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. The medicine that is prescribed for lupus commonly causes hair loss.

So you have lupus and hair loss, what can you do about it?

  • First, recognize that there are multiple sources of hair loss
    1. Some hair loss is caused by scarring associated with discoid scalp lesions.
    2. And some hair loss is throughout and does not result from scarring, as with systemic lupus.
    3. If hair loss is caused by medication, you may have to wait until your lupus is under control to regrow hair. This is common.
    4. Your hair loss may be non-lupus related! ( Color, Over-processing, Alopecia, and Dryness all come to mind.) 

  • Second, create a treatment/prevention plan for it.
    1. For discoid lupus, hair transplants may be the answer
    2.  For all over hair loss not associated with discoid lupus, I received a personal recommendation for you to take the supplement Biotin found in health care stores and pharmacies. (I take this too and I don't have lupus.) You can also try Bosley Hair Products. I have a straight-haired friend with Lupus that says it's expensive but worth it! The most effective thing you can do is build your immune system back up by staying on top of your nutrition and medication.
    3. If the hair loss is caused by medication, know that you are not alone and that until your health improves the medication is a necessary but essential part of treatment in restoring your immune system leading to more hair growth. Many treatments-including steroids and immunosuppressives-cause hair to thin.
    4. Only explore options like Rogaine if you have Alopecia but not hair loss associated with Lupus. See a dermatologist before you invest in over the counter hair regrowth products especially if you have Lupus.
    5. If your hair is breaking or shedding from areas not at your scalp, your hair loss may be attributed to non-Lupus factors. For example, because brittle hair also is common in those with Lupus, you may not want to do things to further stress your tresses like dye them or use harsh chemicals or stripping shampoos.
Here are some things you can do now:
  • Remember stay encouraged! This is good for your physical and mental health.
  • Focus on your health not your hair.
  • Use head-wraps. Turbans are popular now too.
  • Wear styles that cover your thin spots. A properly placed updo or ponytail hides bald spots.
  • Use hair accessories. A well-placed hair barrette, scarf or headband will cover and distract from your thin spots.

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