Remedy for thinning hair on Azathioprine / Imuran?

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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2018
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 1/5/2018 12:18 PM (GMT -7)   

I had pretty thick, healthy hair up until my UC symptoms began in 2012 - I guess no coincidence! Since beginning azathioprine in October 2016 though it's began to dramatically thin even more - eek!

Aside from the thinning hair I believe the aza has also made my seborrheic dermatitis worse (could be related to the thinning hair?).

Just wondering if anyone has experienced the same side effects and if anything has helped them? Vitamins, supplements, shampoos or anything else perhaps?

Thanks so much for any help.
Male / 25 / Ulcerative Colitis / Diagnosed 2013.

Octasa mesalazine 4.8g
Azathioprine 100mg
Mesalazine suppositories 1g

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 15654
   Posted 1/5/2018 6:01 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi & welcome. I wish I could offer some advice, but my hair loss due to meds or flare ups has always ended up improving eventually. Either it regrew after a period of time on the medication, or the flare up ended and my hair stopped falling out. I know often people recommend biotin, but I am not sure how much it actually helps. Have you seen a dermatologist for the dermatitis? I have used jason brand dandruff shampoo for a dry itchy scalp, but I don't know if it is recommended for your particular condition. Might be worth seeing a dermatologist. Is your UC controlled? Have you had your vitamin levels checked?
Moderator: UC
Currently: no meds 6/15 Step 1 J-pouch Surgery Complete 9/15 Step 2 Complete 11/15 Step 3 Complete
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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2018
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 1/7/2018 11:36 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi - thanks for your reply!

I've been in remission for almost a year which is great (although still get brief return of symptoms if I eat the wrong thing etc.).

I plan on bringing this all up at my next doc appointment in Feb but doubt he'll be able to offer any useful advice, so thought I'd check here too. I think it's just part of the azathioprine "experience" really.

Thanks for the shampoo recommendation and will ask my doc about Biotin and my vitamin levels smile
Male / 25 / Ulcerative Colitis / Diagnosed 2013.

Octasa mesalazine 4.8g
Azathioprine 100mg
Mesalazine suppositories 1g

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2015
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 1/8/2018 8:49 PM (GMT -7)   
B12 1000mcg one tab daily helped me quite a bit. it is over the counter
ulcerative proctitis diagnosed 2005
pan colitis with cdiff infection 2007
went off meds 2008 thinking I was fine
2015 pan colitis currently on imuran, VSL #3, oral contraceptive, loratadine and remicade
mesalamine did not work

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2018
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 1/9/2018 10:55 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Lucy, will def look into this smile

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 11271
   Posted 1/9/2018 11:15 AM (GMT -7)   
Thinning hair or hair loss is often a delayed-reaction to a UC flareup with or without medications. A flare up is rough on the body and we can loose a lot of nutrients and loose weight rapidly resulting in malnutrition and hair loss. Do you know if you are anemic, have low vitamin B, B12, or D as any one of those things can cause hair loss? It's possible medications can cause hair loss as well, however, other things must be ruled out as well.

Hair Regrowth is often a delayed-reaction to healing from a flareup. The loss will slow, stop, and then reverse itself after a month or two assuming the underlying problems are resolved (you are no longer malnourished, not anemic, and have normal vitamin levels). Regrowth is a slow process (hair grows at a slow rate), but you should start seeing the formation of new hairs after a while.
Moderator Ulcerative Colitis
, 39, UC Proctosigmoiditis
Rx: Remicade @5mgs/kg/6wks; daily 75mgs 6MP, 4.8g generic-Lialda, and rowasa

Does the 5-second-rule apply to soup?

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 139
   Posted 1/9/2018 5:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Nioxin #2 stopped the Imuran hair loss for me. I was at a higher dose several years ago and lost about 1/3 of my hair. I tried Nioxin as a desperation move and it stopped it. Hang in there and good luck!
Dx 2011, Flared Sept 2017 - severe pancolitis
Rowasa - nightly
Imuran 100mg
Multi-vitamin, Calcium, Vit. D

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2016
Total Posts : 409
   Posted 1/10/2018 2:40 AM (GMT -7)   
Hair is something the body sacrifices first when things start to go downhill. You're body is going to put nutrition and healthy blood to the areas in that crisis first. So that's the main reason why hair can thin out.

I find that high doses of steroids combined with blood loss thins my hair like nothing else. Usually once bleeding is under control, my food intake is better, and I've received some iron IVs, my hair begins to get thicker.

I've noticed recently though that as I increased my dose of DHEA to counter adrenal depletion from steroids, my hair and beard have become a lot darker and thicker. Friends have noticed. So maybe there's a hormone component to this too. I saw a Chinese medicine doctor a while back who said that adrenal fatigue usually thins the hair.

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2018
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 1/10/2018 2:57 PM (GMT -7)   
Cheers for your responses! iPoop - will definitely ask my doc about vitamin levels when I next see him. Irish4me - thanks for the recommendation - sounds like Nioxin helped you a lot! And Connor - yeah maybe my hair is still a bit beaten up from the steroids I was on. Glad you're seeing results from the DHEA!
Male / 25 / Ulcerative Colitis / Diagnosed 2013.

Octasa mesalazine 4.8g
Azathioprine 100mg
Mesalazine suppositories 1g

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2011
Total Posts : 3019
   Posted 1/12/2018 11:35 PM (GMT -7)   
I've been on azathioprine for years now and the hair loss stopped at some point on its own.
UC since 2002
Was on Remicade and successfully made the step back to Azathioprine
Currently on 150 mg Azathioprine, Wellbutrin 150 mg, Zoloft 50 mg, CCherbal (as needed), Algaecal
Scope on 6/3/2016 showed no inflammation but scarring
Dexa scan on 10/09/2017 showed decreased bone density, again...
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