Health Encyclopedia > Health Topics

Causes of Hair Loss: Diseases

Topic Overview

Diseases that can cause hair loss, thinning, or breakage include:

  • Lupus , in which hair tends to become brittle and may fall out in patches. Short, broken hairs ("lupus hairs") commonly appear above the forehead. Hair loss is usually not permanent. Some people with lupus also develop a form of lupus called discoid or cutaneous lupus that affects only the skin ("cutaneous" refers to skin). Scars that sometimes develop on the scalp may cause hair loss.
  • Thyroid problems, which are a common cause of scattered hair loss. Both an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause hair loss. Hair loss associated with thyroid disease can be reversed with proper treatment.
  • Cancer, such as Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • An adult form of muscular dystrophy (myotonic dystrophy).
  • Diseases of the pituitary gland.
  • Heavy metal poisoning, such as thallium or arsenic poisoning.
  • A disease that causes inflammation and scar tissue throughout the body (sarcoidosis).
  • Late-stage syphilis.
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection.
  • Any severe ongoing (chronic) illness.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised May 29, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

USNWR 2013-2014Magnet Hospital RecognitionConsumer Choice2014 Best DoctorsJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.