Adderall is a prescription drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine which are stimulants that affect our central nervous system.
Many young adults misuse Adderall to improve their ability to study and boost academic performance. However, this brain stimulant can induce several unwanted side effects, such as higher blood pressure, cardiovascular events, psychosis, headaches, and more.
Adderall can also cause hair loss in some people, even though this side effect is relatively uncommon. So, why does Adderall cause hair loss, and is there a way to prevent it? Read more to find out.
Adderall And Hair Loss
Alopecia or hair loss is not a common side effect, but some people observe hair thinning and hair loss when using Adderall. We all know how sensitive people can be about this topic, as the way our hair looks is often connected to how good we feel about our physical appearance.
There is no clinical research investigating the link between Adderall and hair loss, which is why we are not sure exactly how common this side effect is. Hair loss appears to be multifactorial and most likely caused indirectly by a change in a person’s behavior due to the influence of ADHD medication.
Why Does Adderall Cause Hair Loss?
If you take a look at Adderall’s label, you’ll see alopecia as one of the possible side effects. There are multiple potential causes, including:
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Rashes or itchy skin
- Hair pulling
Some case reports have linked hair loss with amphetamine use, although they didn’t investigate the mechanisms behind it. Newer research has confirmed the link between ADHD medication, such as Adderall, and hair loss.
One case report described a 12-year old girl who began pulling her hair after being prescribed Adderall for ADHD. After the evaluation, she was taken off Adderall and switched to another medication. Her anxiety and hair-pulling ceased, and she didn’t experience this symptom in the following year.
A similar side effect was observed in one adult prescribed amphetamines for ADHD, and hair-pulling stopped after discontinuing the medication.
Pulling hair is usually the result of stress and anxiety. Stress also activates systemic responses and hormone changes that affect hair growth cycles. These disruptions could inhibit growth and cause hair loss and thinning.
Adderall can also cause itchy skin. When your scalp becomes itchy, you tend to scratch it more often, which leads to hair loss.
This stimulant medication can cause sleep disturbances, and sleep is vital for our skin health including our hair. That’s why a lack of sleep can contribute to faster hair loss.
In addition, many people taking Adderall report loss of appetite as one of the common side effects. It occurs because the medication stimulates the brain to produce dopamine, which sends a message that you are satisfied and no longer hungry. Because of that, many people can eat less and experience weight loss. However, that can lead to nutrient deficiencies that are often linked with hair loss.
Will My Hair Grow Back Once I Stop Taking Adderall?
It appears that taking Adderall may disrupt your hair growth cycle, but it doesn’t damage the hair follicles. That means that once you stop taking Adderall, your hair should grow back.
However, this may take some time, so don’t worry if it doesn’t grow back right away. In addition, you should only stop using Adderall under medical supervision.
How To Prevent Hair Loss While On Adderall
If you notice any signs of hair loss while taking Adderall, you need to talk to your doctor so that they can adjust the dosage or switch your treatment. You shouldn’t stop taking Adderall on your own, as it can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, irritability, and more.
To minimize the chances of hair loss while taking Adderall, you can try:
- Improving your sleep hygiene
- Practicing good hair care
- Enjoying a healthy diet
- Performing relaxing activities
- Minimizing stressors
- Taking multivitamins
- Visiting a sleep loss specialist
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Studies You Can Read About Adderall And Hair Loss
- Diffuse Alopecia Areata Associated with Weight-Loss Pills (International journal of trichology, 2019)
- Association of Alopecia Areata With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Stimulant Medication: A Case-Control Study (Ochsner Journal, 2021)
- Adderall-induced Trichotillomania: A Case Report (Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 2013)
- Stimulant-Induced Trichotillomania (Substance abuse, 2010)
- Stress and the Hair Follicle (The American journal of pathology, 2003)
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use (Dermatology practical & conceptual, 2017)
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