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.

First Nurse

First Nurse

Call First Nurse 24 Hours a Day for free health care advice, resources and referrals!

Ames: 515-239-6877
In Iowa: 800-524-6877 

Search health information online in our Mulimedia Health Library.

High Quality Care

Guardian of Excellence

Mary Greeley consistently delivers high quality patient care.

  • 2013 Guardian of Excellence Award for Clinical Quality
  • Grade 'A' Patient Safety from the Leapfrog Group
  • 2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures ranking from The Joint Commission
  • Highest percentage bonus of any Iowa hospital in Medicare's quality incentive program

Mary Greeley on Facebook

Like us on Facebook

Patient Privacy | Net Learning for Employees | MGMC PACS for Physicians
Emergency Preparedness

1111 Duff Avenue Ames, IA 50010 - 515-239-2011 - yourhealth.mgmc@mgmc.com

©2014 Mary Greeley Medical Center - All rights reserved.