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6 Tips To Prevent Hair Loss While Taking Accutane

Although Accutane is an extremely effective method for clearing acne breakouts it comes with a host of potential side effects including hair loss (telogen effluvium).

As Isotretinoin dries out the skin pretty much from head to toe, your scalp microbiome is going to suffer, as will your hair. On Accutane, your hair is going to be much more prone to breakage and damage. Many Accutane users have also reported that their hair falls out much easier after washing, brushing or styling. 

In this article, we’ll review a few different methods to minimize the chances of hair loss while taking Accutane including recommended supplements, hair care dos and don’ts, and dosage recommendations. We’ll also review a few alternatives to Accutane for dealing with hormonal acne breakouts as well as a few other common side effects of consistent Accutane usage

1. Recommended supplements & vitamins

Supplementing with hair and skin supporting vitamins and supplements can reduce the chances of hair loss as a side effect from Accutane treatment.

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A supports your hair health and can promote organic hair growth by increasing sebaceous oil production on the scalp and accelerating hair follicle regeneration.

For an acne-friendly Vitamin A supplement, I’d recommend NOW Vitamin A Supplements. They’re non-GMO, dairy-free and soy-free. Make sure to take this supplement with food, as it can cause discomfort on an empty stomach.

Vitamin B 

Supplementing with vitamin B is good idea during an Accutane treatment because several studies have shown Accutane causes deficiencies in Vitamin B. Biotin, in particular, plays a critical role on the production of keratin which is an essential building block for the hair, nails, and skin.

You can find great Vitamin B supplements on Amazon – my top recommendation would be Nature’s Bounty Super-B Complex: these supplements are non-GMO, vegetarian-friendly, and sugar-free.

Fish Oil

The omega-3 fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties improve hair density and help open up hair follicles. Supplementing with fish oil is a great way to improve both skin and hair quality as an omega-3 deficiency can lead to a number of health problems including acne breakouts.

2. Stay hydrated

Accutane’s most common effect is causing dryness throughout the body. This is the primary reason why it is so effective for acne: Accutane alters the hormones and reduces the amount of oil produced by the pores. This dryness can cause flaking and dandruff, which can disrupt hair follicle production on the scalp. Because of this staying hydrated is extremely important for delivering moisture to the skin and scalp (as well as the rest of the body).

3. Limit sun exposure

Accutane usage can make the skin more sensitive and susceptible to sunburn, which is why you should wear sunscreen and avoid direct sunlight while taking Accutane. If the scalp becomes sunburned and damaged it is more difficult to produce healthy hair follicles.

4. Avoid chemical hair products & heat styling

Chemical hair products including dyes, straighteners, and oils can damage the hair follicles by drying them out. In order to avoid a hair treatment that can lead to further hair thinning, you should make sure to use a gentle, non-comedogenic shampoo, that will keep the scalp nourished and hydrated without disrupting hair growth or clogging the pores.

Heat styling involves using a blow dryer or hair straightener with warm air which will weaken the hair follicles even further.

5. Avoid tight hair styles

Tight hair styles like pony tails, buns, and braids can put stress on already weakened hair follicles. Accutane dries out the scalp and hair follicles which generally weakens and brittles the hair. Adding further stress to the hair follicles by applying a constant pull or pressure makes it easier for the hair to fall out throughout the course of the day.

6. Discuss you dosage with a dermatologist

If you begin to notice thinning hair during the course of your Accutane treatment you should contact your dermatologist to see if they can prescribe you a lower dosage amount. Doctors typically prescribe Accutane dosage based on weight, age, gender, acne severity, and lifestyle habits. The typical prescription range is between between 40mg-120mg. If you have particularly strong side effects most dermatologists will be open to reducing your dosage amount, especially if your hair begins falling out.

Accutane Hair Loss Percentage in Men vs. Women

Although substantial hair loss is a raare side effect from Accutane usage, around 9% of Accutane users report hair thinning according to this study by Dr. Davin Lim. In this study of 932 people 9% of Isotretinoin user reported hair loss: of these cases 70% were from women and 30% were from men. Although hair loss only happens in 10% of users the FDA lists hair thinning and hair loss as one of Accutane’s side effects.

Is Accutane Hair Loss Permanent?

No, hair loss from Accutane is rarely permanent. Most Accutane users who report thinning hair begin to see if regrown once they stop using Isotretinoin. Despite this, there are rare cases where Accutane users have permanent hair loss which is usually related to existing hair issues or other underlying medical conditions.

Because of the potential severe effects of Accutane use why it’s a good idea to take time to consider whether or not you truly want to undergo Accutane treatment, or opt for a more natural alternative

Alternatives To Accutane

If the side effects of Isotretinoin don’t sound particularly fun, there are plenty of natural alternatives to Accutane that you can explore. 

I’d always recommend readers to try all possible natural methods first, and opt for Accutane as a last resort. Here are some natural alternatives that you should try before asking your dermatologist for an Accutane prescription:

Retinol

Retinol, also known as Vitamin A, has been proven to help reduce acne, improve acne scars, and reduce the amount of sebum the skin produces all in one go. 

Retinol promotes collagen production, which increases skin cell turnover and can help reduce the appearance of pimples while also working at the root of the problem (i.e., reducing sebum production.) Yes, really. 

While it can be abrasive on the skin to begin with, I’d highly recommend using a topical retinol before asking your doctor for an Accutane prescription. 

Diet

There is an undeniable, science-backed link between skin health and gut health. What you put in your body is directly responsible for your hormone regulation, glucose levels, blood sugar levels, and even your levels of inflammation in the body. 

In my colleague Sam’s eBook Unmasking Acne, he listed hundreds of foods and ranked their acne-causing potential using a traffic light system. You’d be surprised how many “healthy” foods can spike your blood sugar levels and cause pimples.

If you want to treat your acne naturally, being aware of inflammatory foods is absolutely essential. It’s not just chocolate and fries that contribute to acne – take a look at Sam’s eBook yourself and see. 

Whatt is Isotretinoin and how does it work?

While Accutane is mostly known by its famous brand name, the medical name for this anti-acne prescription is Isotretinoin.

In short, Isotretinoin prevents your pores from oozing too much sebum. It does this by shrinking your skin’s sebum-producing glands, preventing them from overproducing oil. Without any oil to clog your pores, your skin slowly stops breaking out. 

However, Accutane isn’t a miracle, one-size-fits-all solution to acne-prone skin. Accutane can cause a multitude of unpleasant side effects, and today we’re going to look at whether or not Accutane causes hair loss. 

Accutane’s Side Effects

Accutane has hundreds of potential side effects ranging from dry skin to tumors. Below we have listed a few of the most common side effects caused by Accutane usage that have been reported by the FDA:

  • Dry skin and lips: One of the most common side effects, often requiring moisturizers and lip balms for relief.
  • Dryness of the nasal mucosa: Can lead to nosebleeds and nasal irritation.
  • Dry eyes: May result in discomfort, particularly for contact lens wearers.
  • Increased skin sensitivity: Especially to sunlight, necessitating the use of sunscreen and protective clothing.
  • Changes in liver enzymes and lipid profiles: Regular blood tests are often required to monitor liver function and blood lipid levels.
  • Muscle and joint pain: Especially noted after physical activity or exercise.
  • Hair thinning or hair loss: Typically temporary and reverses after treatment is completed.
  • Mood changes: Including reports of depression or mood swings; however, a direct causal relationship hasn’t been definitively established.
  • Headaches: Can occur, though severe headaches need immediate medical attention.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Such as nausea or inflammatory bowel disease, though the latter is rare and the association with isotretinoin is debated.
  • Effects on night vision: Some users experience a decrease in night vision, which can be sudden.

Originally Published: October 31, 2023

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Analyzed by Randall Higgins

Hi, I’m Dr. Randall Higgins, a pharmacist & medical researcher based out of New York City. I have been a licensed pharmacist for over a decade and have extensive experience in the dermatology, oncology, men’s health, and infusion pharmacy spaces. I received my Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2011, and have spent the last six years creating content to help acne-sufferers safely heal their skin issues through both natural and pharmaceutical means. If you have a question please reach out to the GoodGlow team or contact me via Linkedin and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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