Does Adderall Cause Hair Loss?

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Medically reviewed by Brendan Levy, MD Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 9/18/2017

Adderall is one of the most widely prescribed treatments for ADHD. It’s also commonly used as an illicit study aid by college students, with data showing that about one in five college kids has used Adderall (or Ritalin, a different ADHD drug) at some point.

People with narcolepsy can also use Adderall as a wakefulness drug to avoid daytime tiredness and other common issues.

Like most stimulants, Adderall is a powerful drug that has some pretty serious side effects. At a normal dose, Adderall can make it difficult to sleep, suppress your appetite and change the way you behave around other people.

At higher-than-normal doses or over the long term, Adderall can have some even more serious side effects. One of these side effects can be temporary hair loss caused by stress, poor sleep and nutritional deficiencies.

While rare, hair loss from Adderall can potentially happen. In this guide, we’ll explain how drugs like Adderall can affect your hair health, as well as how you can reverse the effects of hair loss caused by Adderall.

How Common is Adderall Hair Loss?

Hair loss is not a common side effect of Adderall. However, it is listed as a rare potential side effect, meaning that there’s a possibility of regular Adderall use affecting your hair’s thickness and overall health.

A far more common side effect of Adderall -- one that can contribute to hair loss -- is anxiety.

Adderall is a combination of levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts -- two powerful types of stimulant. Many people, especially people without ADHD that use Adderall to study more efficiently, feel stronger stress and anxiety after taking Adderall.

This stress can have a negative effect on your hair. Excessive levels of stress can result in telogen effluvium, which is a type of diffuse hair shedding that can result in a large amount of your hair follicles entering the shedding phase prematurely.

Adderall can also have a severe effect on your sleep patterns. Because it’s a stimulant, even therapeutic doses of Adderall can keep you awake at night if taken late in the day, meaning you’ll go without the sleep you need to function properly.

Less sleep equals more stress hormones, which in turn can result in hair loss due to telogen effluvium.

Finally, Adderall can often result in a weaker appetite, meaning you’re less likely to consume vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are important for healthy hair growth.

Many of these side effects are also common with other ADHD medication. For example, sleep problems and scalp hair loss are also listed as potential side effects of methylphenidate -- the active ingredient in ADHD drug Ritalin.

Adderall Hair Loss vs. Male Pattern Baldness

Hair loss caused indirectly by Adderall is not the same as male pattern baldness. Most of the time, any hair you lose from taking Adderall is gone temporarily as a result of higher levels of stress, lower levels of sleep or poor nutrition.

Male pattern baldness, on the other hand, is permanent hair loss caused by male hormones such as DHT.

Most of the time, hair loss caused by Adderall comes in the form of thinning, where you’ll lose hair from most or all areas of your head. There’s no scientific evidence linking stress to specific areas of hair loss, like a receding hairline or balding around the crown of your head.

One important thing to note is that temporary hair loss caused by Adderall can potentially cover up the results of male pattern baldness, making it harder to tell if you’re losing hair as a result of Adderall or due to DHT.

For example, if your hair is already thin due to malnutrition or lack of sleep caused by Adderall, you’ll find it a lot harder to spot DHT-induced diffuse thinning.

This also means that finasteride and other DHT blockers probably won’t have any effect on hair loss caused by Adderall. Finasteride is designed to stop the conversion of testosterone to DHT, and isn’t effective at reducing stress levels or helping you sleep.

How to Reverse Hair Loss From Adderall

The best way to reverse the hair side effects of Adderall is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, food, vitamins and minerals. If you’re taking Adderall without a prescription as a study or work aid, stopping Adderall can make this easier.

It’s also important to take steps to minimize your stress level. If you’re taking Adderall to keep up with a demanding work or study program, making some changes to your lifestyle and study/work habits can make a big difference, both in your overall health and the thickness of your hair.

It may also be possible to speed up hair regrowth after taking Adderall by using hair treatments like minoxidil, although there’s no scientific research specifically linking minoxidil to hair growth after stress-induced hair shedding.

In conclusion, hair loss from Adderall is rare but possible. If you take Adderall and have sleep or appetite problems, there’s a chance that these could result in hair shedding, giving you a thinner and less healthy head of hair that’s indirectly caused by Adderall use.

However, Adderall isn’t linked to a receding hairline or male pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is caused by a combination of genetics and male hormones and has a completely different method of treatment.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.