Can Steroids Cause Hair Loss?

Close up of a muscular man injecting himself with steroids

There are a lot of concerns that people can have when they start taking steroids. One of these concerns is that it might make your hair fall out or make your hair fall worse if you are already suffering from hair loss.

In short, steroids can indeed cause you to have hair loss. That said, there is a lot more to it that you should know than this. There are certain steroids that are more likely to make you lose your hair, ways to help prevent hair loss if you are on steroids, and a lot of other things that you should know.

How Steroids Cause Hair Loss

In order to understand exactly how steroids can cause hair loss, you first have to understand more about hair loss itself and how it works. While there is more than one reason why you might lose your hair, there is one main reason for pattern baldness.

Pattern baldness is something that commonly affects men but can affect women as well. In fact, pattern baldness is one of the main reasons why men lose their hair. The main factor in pattern baldness is something that is called DHT.

DHT is short for dihydrotestosterone which is a byproduct of testosterone. When your body has extra testosterone it can turn it into DHT. Most of the time this DHT is then filtered out of your body, but sometimes it isn’t.

The other thing that this DHT can do is to bond with the cells in your hair follicles. This is not good for your hair follicles for several reasons. First, there is the fact that this can cause inflammation in your hair follicles.

Over time the DHT can build up and literally choke out the hair follicle altogether. Since different areas of your scalp are more prone to attracting DHT than others, the baldness tends to happen in a certain pattern. This is why this type of baldness is called Pattern Baldness.

Since steroids increase the amount of testosterone in your body, it can also be the cause of higher DHT levels. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that this extra DHT will attach to your hair follicles, it does make this more likely to happen.

This is why, if you are already losing your hair due to pattern baldness, this can drastically speed up your hair loss. Even if you are not currently losing your hair, this may be what triggers you to start.

Other Possible Side Effects Of Steroids

Hair loss is only one of the possible side effects of steroids. While the increased testosterone is certainly the most likely reason why steroids can make you lose your hair, this is not the only reason. There are other side effects of steroids that can also cause you to lose your hair in a more roundabout way.

One possible side effect is high blood pressure. Steroids can also cause liver problems. This latter side effect can definitely lead to hair loss all on its own. Your liver is vital then it comes to filtering out your blood.

Without this, the things that your liver filters out will build up in your blood. Your body will expend itself with trying to filter blood and you could easily lose your hair due to both the buildup in your blood and because your body is far too busy dealing with this to give anything to your hair.

Other possible side effects are a decreased amount of libido and infertility. Mood swings are also possible. If these mood swings involve making you feel stressed, this is another reason you might lose your hair on steroids.

Stress releases certain hormones that are bad for your hair. If you stay stressed for long enough, you can not only lose your hair but you can also start turning gray earlier than you otherwise would have. However, in addition to stress steroids can also make you more aggressive and irritable.

Finally, another serious side effect that steroids can cause is that it can affect your heart negatively. This is definitely not something you want, and it can increase the likelihood that you could have a stroke or a heart attack.

Are Certain Steroids More Likely To Cause Hair Loss?

There are a variety of different steroids out there that you can take. Some of these are more effective, but you should be aware of the fact that certain ones are more likely to affect your hair. In particular, ones that have androgenic compounds are worse for your hair than others.

Some steroids have what is called an androgenic rating. The higher this rating is, the greater the possibility is that it will cause you hair loss. Unfortunately, most of the more commonly used steroids are higher than you might like.

Sometimes these steroids are also referred to as DHT based which should be a warning all by itself. Some of the more common steroids that you should consider trying to avoid are:

  • Anadrol (Oxymetholone)
  • Anavar (Oxandrolone)
  • Boldenone (Equipoise
  • Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate)
  • Dianabol (Methandrostenolone)
  • Masteron
  • Nandrolone Phenylpropionate (NPP)
  • Primobolan (Methenolone)
  • Proviron (Mesterolone)
  • Trenbolone
  • Turinabol
  • Winstrol (Stanozolol)

While most of these are DHT based steroids, a couple of them are not. These are called anabolic steroids. If you are not sure about a specific type of steroid, you should find out if you can if it is a DHT based or anabolic steroid.

A couple of mild anabolic steroids are Anavar and Deca. Anavar in particular does a good job of not causing your hair to fall out. In rare cases some Anavar users claim that their hair actually gets thicker though this has not been documented.

You can also ask your doctor which one they might recommend. Even better, if you go to a hair doctor for any reason they are the most qualified person to ask.

Reasons Why You Might Be On Steroids

The most common reason why many people start taking steroids is in order to lose fat and gain muscle. That said, there are other reasons why you might find the need to take steroids. You may even be prescribed steroids by your doctor.

A couple of the more common reasons why a doctor might prescribe some form of steroids are for asthma and arthritis. It is also used sometimes with diseases that cause muscle degeneration to help slow this down.

In these cases, you might have no choice but to take steroids in some form. However, if it is affecting your hair you may be able to ask your doctor if it is possible for you to switch to some other treatment.

In the case of arthritis, you may be able to get it in the form of an injection right into the problem joint instead of taking the steroids in the form of a pill. This can sometimes reduce the likelihood of you losing your hair.

Ways To Prevent Hair Loss If You Are On Steroids

Sometimes you have to be on steroids for one reason or another. There are so many benefits to using steroids that it may be worth it to risk your hair. However, you do not necessarily have to choose between the steroids and your hair.

Lower Your DHT Levels

The main reason why steroids cause you to lose your hair is due to the raised levels of DHT. This being the case, you should do all that you can in order to lower your DHT levels while you are taking steroids. You can lower your DHT in a few different ways.

The first way is to take some form of a hair loss pill that blocks DHT. There are plenty of hair loss pills out there that meets this qualification. Some of these contain a number of different chemicals while others try to be more natural.

In addition to pills, there are also topical hair treatments that you can use that can help. These often work by blocking the DHT from attaching to the hair follicles, though they do nothing to prevent your body from making the DHT.

They can come in the form of elixirs, shampoos, creams, and other forms. Most of these are applied to your scalp once or twice a day. These options might react in some way to steroids, so you should always talk to your doctor before you try to take both steroids and a DHT blocker at the same time.

Take Extra Care Of Your Hair

 If you are not certain if steroids might make you lose your hair, you may want to simply stick with a few simple precautions. The first thing that you can do to make sure that you are taking extra care of your hair is to make sure that you are giving it the vitamins and minerals that it needs.

Do this by making sure you eat nutritious foods and by taking multivitamins daily. Both prebiotics and probiotics are good for helping you to absorb these nutrients if you add them to your diet.

Other than that, there are a few other things that you can do. You can try to avoid getting chemicals in your hair. If you go swimming, wash out the chlorine afterward. Try to wear a hat if you are going somewhere where there is a lot of chemicals and things in the air.

However, don’t wash your hair too often. This can strip your hair depending on the shampoo you are using. Finally, you should try to avoid using a lot of styling products, particularly ones with a lot of chemicals in them.

Final Thoughts

Taking steroids is not something that should ever be done lightly. If you are worried about losing your hair, you should try one of the steroids that are not as likely to cause you to lose your hair. That, along with taking every possible precaution should help you keep your hair.

As one final thought, it is a wise idea to take a picture of your hairline before you start taking steroids. By doing this you can then look back on this picture later on if you are worried that your hairline might be moving further back.

There is no guarantee that steroids will cause you to lose your hair. However, you should at least be aware that it is a possibility. You being aware that this is a possibility is the first step in preventing it from happening to you.

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