Does Accutane Cause Teenage Hair Loss
Accutante (Accutane) is a brand name for a chemical called isotretinoin. In teenagers, it is used to treat severe cases of acne that produces scarring and has not been effectively treated by other methods. One of the potential side effects of isotretinoin is hair loss, and the hair loss is caused for one of two reasons.
Although rare, in some people, the use of isotretinoin can cause alopecia. Alopecia takes several forms, but all lead to
significant hair loss, which may or may not be permanent. Alopecia causes an immune system response by the body that causes an attack on the hair follicles. This causes existing hairs, in any stage of the growth cycle, to fall out. Production of hair ceases while the condition exists. Alopecia is often the result of trauma to the body, such as a severe injury or illness, but it does not always have a cause. It is unknown why the use of isotretinoin may trigger Alopecia.
As the majority of the body is covered in hair follicles, hair loss as a result of alopecia can occur anywhere on the body. It typically begins with a small patch of hair on the scalp that causes a bald spot. However, the condition often progresses to produce complete baldness. In addition, it is common for eyebrows, eyelashes, and body hair to be lost as well. In many cases, the condition, which is largely untreatable, will go away and hair will begin growing again. It is not uncommon, however, for someone who has experienced alopecia to have further outbreaks throughout his or her lifetime.
Since acne is caused by oil and skin cells clogging pores, a reduction in oil production is one way to effectively treat it. The oilier the skin is, the more likely it is that the oil will clog the pores. The oil also captures dirt and skin cells, further irritating the pore. This is what causes acne in teenagers. Isotretinoin, therefore, reduces the amount of oil, or sebum, which is produced in pores.
Drying out the skinís naturally produced oils can help with acne, but it adversely affects hair growth. Oil coats each hair to protect it from damage from the elements, shampoos, and heat styling. Without the natural protection of this oil, the hair is left in a much more fragile state. While it is common to lose up to 100 hairs per day, hair that is dry is more likely to fall out. An increase in the amount of hairs lost on a regular basis can lead to noticeable hair thinning.
A severe drying of the scalp can actually prevent hair from growing. Each hair goes through several phases to complete its cycle of growth. The anagen phase lasts several years, and this is the stage during which the hair is growing. The catagen phase is a transition period for the hair; it neither grows nor falls out during this stage, during which it is preparing to fall out. The final stage is the telegen phase. This phase makes the hair dormant; at the conclusion of this phase, the anagen phase will begin to produce a new hair in the follicle, pushing out the old one.
If the conditions of the scalp are not suitable for the anagen phase to resume, hairs may lie dormant for a longer period of time. Typically, about 15% of the hair on oneís head is in the catagen phase; if conditions are not right for new hair growth, as can occur from extreme dryness from taking Accutane, many more hairs enter the catagen phase. This means that when the growth cycle resumes, far more than normal hairs will be pushed out, causing noticeable hair loss. This is a temporary condition, however, that will stabilize after a few months after ending acne treatment with isotretinoin.
Accutane prescriptions generally extend 12-24 months and dosages often vary depending on blood tests and effectiveness. As with most treatments, Accutane requires continued use and should be closely monitored by a physician or dermatologist. New hair growth typically resumes after discontinuing Accutane, but there are several solutions that can help reduce loss. One is the use of a vitamin supplement such as Hair Nutrition Vitamins or Bioten Hair Growth Vitamins (see image above). These are excellent hair vitamins for hair loss in women
and men but are generally safe for use by teenagers. Since supplements can interact with medication, you should consult your physician before use.
Secondly, using a shampoo that encourages hair growth can be helpful. Look for shampoos with Trichogen, Minoxidil and with ingredients that stimulate hair growth such as Biotin (vitamin B7) or Saw Palmetto. These shampoos can also be effctive if if sores or bumps on the scalp and hair loss
occur together. Many of the ingredients such as Emu Oil, Jojoba or Argan can reduce inflammation and help heal the scalp.