While male- and female-pattern baldness can result in permanent hair loss, other factors can cause temporary loss of hair. For instance, the drop in the level of estrogen at the end of pregnancy can cause a woman's hair to shed more readily. Two or three months after a woman stops taking birth control pills, she may experience the same effect, since birth control pills produce hormone changes that mimic pregnancy.
It is well known that many cancer chemotherapy medications cause baldness. Most people are willing to put up with hair loss when accepting treatments for life-threatening diseases. But a large number of popular medications can cause hair loss while neither pharmaceutical industry nor your doctor will tell you about this side effect.
clofibrate (Atromis-S) and gemfibrozil (Lopid)
levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa)
cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid)
Coumarin and Heparin
Agents for gout:
Allopurinol (Loporin, Zyloprim)
penicillamine, auranofin (Ridaura), indomethacin (i\Indocin), naproxen (Naprosyn), sulindac (Clinoril), and methotrexate (Folex)
Drugs derived from vitamin-A:
isotretinoin (Accutane) and etretinate (Tegison)
Anticonvulsants for epilepsy:
Beta blocker drugs for high blood pressure:
atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard), propranolol (Inderal) and timolol (Blocadren)
carbimazole, Iodine, thiocyanate, thiouracil
Blood thinners, male hormones (anabolic steroids)
Next time your doctor prescribes any drug for you, ask if it will cause hair loss. You doctor may not realize this side effect. You can ask him or her to look it up in the Physicians' Desk Reference, which lists the side effects of all prescription medications. If the drug is linked to reversible alopecia, ask if another can be substituted. And just to make sure your physician has given you accurate information, when you get the prescription filled, ask your pharmacist as well.