Why Does Anaemia Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss can be difficult to cope with under any circumstances, but it’s even more distressing when caused by a medical condition.

Not only do you face the stress of losing your hair, but you might be affected by more pressing health issues that disrupt your quality of life.

Anaemia is one of the most common medical conditions leading to hair loss. But what’s behind it?

In this post, we’ll explore:

  • What is anaemia?
  • Common types of anaemia
  • Why anaemia causes hair loss
  • What options are available to you if you’re affected by anaemia-related hair loss?

What is anaemia?

Around two billion people worldwide are affected by anaemia.

Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling weak, dizzy, and/or tired
  • A pale complexion
  • Struggling to be as active as you would usually
  • Shortness of breath after physical exertion
  • Heart palpitations

People affected by anaemia have a low red blood cell count, and their bloodstream carries less oxygen than the body requires.

This can leave organs and tissues without the right amount of oxygen to stay healthy.

As a result, the body diverts oxygen from non-essential cells to crucial ones — leaving follicles unable to produce new hair.

Common types of anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia, caused by a lack of iron in the blood.

Iron is required to produce haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

Hair loss from iron deficiency anaemia is temporary, and the best method of treatment it is to address the underlying issue.

Getting iron levels under control will help the growth cycle return to normal and stimulate production of new hair.

Your doctor is likely to prescribe iron tablets, and a healthy amount of oxygen will reach the follicles when haemoglobin levels normalise.

Anaemia can also lead to low levels of vitamin B12, known to cause:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Yellowing of the skin

However, low vitamin B12 may be triggered by certain medications, Crohn’s disease, or even vegan diets.

If you believe you may be affected by any type of anaemia, speak to your GP as soon as possible.

Why anaemia causes hair loss

Certain tissues and organs may be unable to function as they should without the right amount of oxygen. And this includes hair follicles.

Hair growth occurs in cycles, with four stages.

Once follicles enter the resting stage (telogen), their lack of oxygen leaves them without the energy they need to transition to the growth (anagen) stage.

Hair shed from the scalp won’t be replaced, and hair loss will occur.

The effects of anaemia-related hair loss may resemble pattern baldness in both males and females.

Extreme shedding or baldness can be an upsetting outcome of anaemia, particularly for men and women who consider hair a key part of their identity.

What options are available to you if you’re affected by anaemia-related hair loss?

If you believe you may be affected by anaemia, and experiencing common anaemia symptoms alongside hair loss, consult your GP.

They may be able to prescribe iron tablets and recommend you change your diet to consume more iron naturally.

You may be advised to get more vitamin B12, either through supplements, foods, or shots.

Other types of anaemia (sickle cell anaemia, hemolytic anaemia) may call for different treatment methods.

These include blood transfusions, antibiotics, avoiding specific medications, and more.

Treating the underlying cause of anaemia-related hair loss should help to promote healthy hair growth.

However, in cases of permanent hair loss, hair transplants may be an option once the root cause is addressed.

Cutting-edge hair transplants can create natural results using existing hair from the scalp, ensuring transplanted hair blends seamlessly.

To learn more about hair transplant surgery for different types of hair loss, speak to a member of our expert team today!