I was talking to someone the other day who is on the medication warfarin, a drug used to prevent abnormal clotting. He was telling me about how he had noticed quite a bit of hair loss since starting the medication and we discussed the reasons as to this happening. Unfortunately, all the literature I have researched points to an unknown mechanism of action for the hair loss side effect of warfarin and this conversation sparked my interest in blogging about medications which cause hair loss.
Many medications, as benign as they may seem or useful as they may be (as is the case of warfarin), have hair loss listed as a side effect. What is even more is that in a substantial amount of them, the reason for the medication causing hair loss is unknown. It should be duly noted, however, that drug-induced hair loss is different to Male Pattern Baldness, with the former affecting the whole scalp indiscriminately and the latter following a pattern on the scalp. In many cases, though, drug-induced hair loss is reversed upon cessation of the medication or shortly thereafter.
Having dug a few medical references, I have compiled the following list of medications that have hair loss as a side effect:
Anticoagulants: warfarin, heparin
Anticonvulsants: carbamazepine, phenytoin, sodium valproate, trimethadione
Anti-inflammatories: indomethacin, naproxen, sulindac
Attention Deficit Disorder: amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylphenidate
Antidepressants & antipsychotics: amoxapine, amitriptyline, bupropion, clomipramine, desipramine, doxepin, fluoxetine, haloperidol, imipramine, nortriptyline, paroxetine, sertraline
Chemotherapy: adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, cactinomycin, docetaxel, doxorubicin, etoposide, ifosfamide, irinotecan, paclitaxel, topotecan vinorelbine
Cholesterol-lowering drugs: clofibrate, gemfibrozil
Heart & blood pressure: atenolol, metoprolol, nadolol propanolol, timolol
Hormones: anabolic steroids, dihydrotestosterone, estrogen, levothyroxine, liothyronine, progestogen (birth control pill), testosterone.
Indigestion: cimetidine, famotidine, ranitidine
Parkinson’s Disease: levodopa
Smoking cessation: bupropion, nicotine (patches/gum/lozenges)
Please note that the list is compiled by the name of the drug, not the brand. The list is not exclusive, that is, other not listed medications may also cause hair loss but this is a good list of those fairly well known. If your medication is causing you hair loss, always voice your concern to your doctor before taking any actions.
All the best.