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Does Adderall Cause Hair Loss?

Does Adderall Cause Hair Loss?

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 was reviewed by Brendan Levy, MD.

Important Safety Information

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Finasteride is for use by MEN ONLY and should NOT be used by women or children.

Read this Patient Information before you start taking Finasteride and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or treatment.

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).

It is not known if Finasteride works for a receding hairline on either side of and above your forehead (temporal area).

Finasteride is not for use by women and children.

Who should not take Finasteride?

Do not take Finasteride if you:

  • are pregnant or may become pregnant. Finasteride may harm your unborn baby.
    • Finasteride tablets are coated and will prevent contact with the medicine during handling, as long as the tablets are not broken or crushed. Females who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not come in contact with broken or crushed Finasteride tablets.
    • If a pregnant woman comes in contact with crushed or broken Finasteride tablets, wash the contact area right away with soap and water. If a woman who is pregnant comes into contact with the active ingredient in Finasteride, a healthcare provider should be consulted. If a woman who is pregnant with a male baby swallows or comes in contact with the medicine in Finasteride, the male baby may be born with sex organs that are not normal.
  • are allergic to any of the ingredients in Finasteride. See the end of this leaflet for a complete list of ingredients in Finasteride.

    What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking Finasteride? Before taking Finasteride, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have any other medical conditions, including problems with your prostate or liver

    Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

    Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

    How should I take Finasteride?

  • Take Finasteride exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to take it.
  • You may take Finasteride with or without food.
  • If you forget to take Finasteride, do not take an extra tablet. Just take the next tablet as usual.

    Finasteride will not work faster or better if you take it more than once a day.

    What are the possible side effects of Finasteride?

  • decrease in your blood Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. Finasteride can affect a blood test called PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for the screening of prostate cancer. If you have a PSA test done you should tell your healthcare provider that you are taking Finasteride because Finasteride decreases PSA levels. Changes in PSA levels will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Any increase in follow-up PSA levels from their lowest point may signal the presence of prostate cancer and should be evaluated, even if the test results are still within the normal range for men not taking Finasteride. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you have not been taking Finasteride as prescribed because this may affect the PSA test results. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.

  • There may be an increased risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer in men taking finasteride at 5 times the dose of Finasteride.

    The most common side effects of Finasteride include:

  • decrease in sex drive
  • trouble getting or keeping an erection
  • a decrease in the amount of semen

    The following have been reported in general use with Finasteride:

  • breast tenderness and enlargement. Tell your healthcare provider about any changes in your breasts such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge.
  • depression;
  • decrease in sex drive that continued after stopping the medication;
  • allergic reactions including rash, itching, hives and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and face;
  • problems with ejaculation that continued after stopping medication;
  • testicular pain;
  • difficulty in achieving an erection that continued after stopping the medication;
  • male infertility and/or poor quality of semen.
  • in rare cases, male breast cancer.

    Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

    These are not all the possible side effects of Finasteride. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA1088.

    How should I store Finasteride?

  • Store Finasteride at room temperature between 59˚F to 86˚F (15˚C to 30˚C).
  • Keep Finasteride in a closed container and keep Finasteride tablets dry (protect from moisture).

    Keep Finasteride and all medicines out of the reach of children.

    General information about the safe and effective use of Finasteride.

    Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in this Patient Information. Do not use Finasteride for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Finasteride to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them.