If you’re familiar with Accutane, you’re probably familiar with the long list of side effects that you can expect to experience when taking the medication.
From dry skin to yeast infections, we’ve covered almost all of Accutane’s side effects here on the GoodGlow blog. But does Accutane cause hair loss?
In this article, I’m going to go over why Accutane might cause hair loss, how to prevent it, and how to prevent other hair-related side-effects when undergoing Accutane treatment. So, let’s get started!
Firstly, what 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. But what is Isotretinoin, and what does it do?
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.
Does Accutane Cause Hair Loss?
The short answer? Yes. 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. You might also notice that your hair falls out much easier after washing, brushing or styling.
Some studies also show that Isotretinoin use can lead to a Vitamin B deficiency. As Vitamin B contains the essential Biotin compound needed to nourish the hair, a deficiency can easily lead to lackluster, weak locks.
Obviously, a lot will depend on the condition and thickness of your hair when beginning Accutane treatment. But overall, prolonged hair fallout and damaged hair can lead to mild to moderate hair loss while on Accutane.
Is Accutane Hair Loss Common?
Hair loss on Accutane is a fairly common occurrence. It’s so common that the FDA lists hair thinning and hair loss as one of Accutane’s side effects, so you shouldn’t be alarmed if you begin to experience hair thinning during the length of your treatment.
Is Accutane Hair Loss Permanent?
Usually, no. If you experience hair loss while taking Accutane, you should be able to re-strengthen your hair once you’ve stopped taking your prescription.
That being said, you might notice that any hair thinning you experience while taking Accutane is permanent. This is why it’s a good idea to take time to consider whether or not you truly want to undergo Accutane treatment.
Is Accutane Hair Loss Reversible?
Hair loss linked to Accutane treatment is typically reversible, so long as you take active measures to re-strengthen your hair after your treatment. For example, you can use Olaplex’s bond-building hair system to try to undo any lasting damage or hair brittleness.
However, I’d say that the best way to prevent hair loss when taking Isotretinoin is by taking preventative measures during the length of your treatment.
How To Prevent Hair Loss On Isotretinoin
So, how can you prevent hair loss while on Accutane? The main way to avoid this particularly unpleasant side effect is by nourishing your hair while taking your Accutane prescription.
The best way to nourish your hair is by taking Vitamin A and Vitamin B supplements.
Can Supplements Prevent Hair Loss On Accutane?
The simple answer? Yes. Hair supplements can help you at least prevent hair damage while undergoing your Accutane treatment.
Vitamin A supports your hair health and can promote organic hair growth. You can take a Vitamin A supplement during your Accutane treatment to help prevent any hair loss and strengthen your hair during your treatment.
For an acne-friendly Vitamin A supplement, I’d recommend NOW Vitamin A Supplements. They’re non-GMO, dairy-free and soy-free.
As some studies have shown Accutane to cause deficiencies in Vitamin B, it’s a good idea to take a Vitamin B supplement to counteract the effects of your treatment. Your hair needs Biotin (a Vitamin B compound) in order to remain nourished, so taking a supplement can help you avoid any deficiency-related side effects.
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.
Some other steps you can take to avoid Accutane-induced hair loss include the following:
- Don’t dye or color your hair during your treatment, as bleaches and dyes weaken and break the hair.
- Avoid tying your hair up in tight ponytails or other hair styles. Tight hairstyles like ponytails are known to cause hair breakage.
- Nourish your hair with at-home masks and leave-in treatments designed to nourish and protect your hair bonds.
- Avoid heat styling – heat styling causes heat damage and hair breakage, and will cause further hair loss if used frequently during your treatment.
- Don’t overwash your hair. Overwashing can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause breakage. Washing your hair 1-2 times a week should be enough.
Can Stress Cause Hair Loss On Accutane?
Yes! Unfortunately, stress can also play a role when it comes to Accutane-related hair loss. The best way to avoid this is by making time to decompress and relax daily.
You can try reading, listening to music, light exercise or walking to help keep your stress levels at a minimum.
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, 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.
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.
So, does Accutane cause hair loss? It can do. It’s certainly a common side effect, but it can be managed by taking effective preventative measures and looking after your hair during your Accutane treatment.
Remember: Accutane is just one option when it comes to treating acne-prone skin. I’d always advise trying out every possible natural method before taking the prescription route.