Lyme Disease – Hair Loss

lyme disease hair lossThere are numerous symptoms associated with Lyme disease but hair loss is not usually an indicator of infection with Borrelia bacteria. Some patients may attribute hair loss to Lyme disease and it may even be the trigger that prompts them to seek medical attention at which point a variety of chronic Lyme disease symptoms may be identified. In the majority of cases it is likely however that the stress and anxiety associated with chronic illness and untreated infection is responsible for Lyme disease hair loss rather than the disease itself, except in cases of acrodermatitis chronic atrophicans.

The side-effects of several antibiotic medications may also include hair loss but such adverse reactions are thought very rare (occurring in less than 1% of patients). Some patients find that their hair-loss actually improves whilst undergoing antibiotic treatment whereas for others that is when it commences or becomes particularly concerning.


Causes of Lyme Disease Hair Loss

Suspicions that Lyme disease disrupts thyroid function and causes hair loss through hypothyroidism appear unsubstantiated by available medical evidence. Indeed, the purported connection between thyroid underactivity and Lyme disease may not be as simple as the latter causing the former but may demonstrate an exacerbation of an existing condition through stress (both physical and psychological), or a predisposition to immune system issues including autoimmunity in both cases. Those with thyroid disease managed with medication who become infected with Borrelia bacteria and develop Lyme disease may need to reassess the efficacy of their thyroid treatment during antibiotic therapy for the infection and any prescribing doctor should clearly be aware of their existing condition.

Reasons for hair loss are often multifactorial, with genetics playing a major role in most incidences. Male pattern baldness induced by gene expression is the number one cause of hair loss in men, and involves the individual hair follicles failing to continue producing hair and being unable to receive prompts from other, productive, hair follicles to recommence growth. However, improving this type of inter-cellular communication may come as a result of stem cell research thus providing the much-touted cure for baldness in coming years. The other major factors for hair loss in both men and women include stress, hormonal problems or imbalances, a variety of diseases, and age.

Nutrition and Hair Loss in Lyme Disease

Poor nutrition is also a feature of many cases of thinning hair, particularly in conditions such as Lyme disease where a patient may have received a cocktail of medications affecting their general health, be so fatigued or affected by symptoms that it is difficult to take care of themselves properly, or be so overwhelmed by the efforts of fighting the infection that adequate nutrition is hard to achieve. As an example, significant stress, particularly where chronic, can lead to an overtaxed adrenal system and the adrenals require good levels of B vitamins, particularly pantothenic acid (B5), to function adequately. B vitamins are also implicated in healthy hair growth and falling hair may be attributed to low B vitamin status in many cases. Lyme disease hair loss is not thought to be particularly common or directly associated with the disease itself although each patient’s experience varies.

Continue Reading –> Acrodermatitis Chronica Atrophicans and Hair Loss

References

Peters EM, Arck PC, Paus R. Hair growth inhibition by psychoemotional stress: a mouse model for neural mechanisms in hair growth control. Exp Dermatol. 2006 Jan;15(1):1-13.

Völzke H, Werner A, Guertler L, Robinson D, Wallaschofski H, John U. Putative association between anti-Borrelia IgG and autoimmune thyroid disease? Thyroid. 2005 Nov;15(11):1273-7.