Amphetamines and Hair Loss

Amphetamines are a group of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. They have been used since the 1920s. Amphetamines are used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and obesity. At higher doses, amphetamines are also drugs that are frequently abused.


Examples of amphetamines

Most amphetamines are prescription based and include drugs such as:

1.    Dextroamphetamine

2.    Levoamphetamine

3.    Lisdexamfetamine

4.    Methamphetamine

5.    Adderall and Adderall XR

6.    Dexedrine

7.    ProCentra

8.    Ritalin

9.    Concerta

10. Dextrostat

11. Vyvanse

12. Focalin

13. Strattera

14. Zenzedi

15. Evekeo


Hair loss with amphetamines

Hair loss is a possible side effect of amphetamines. It does not happen to everyone but a proportion are affected.  Hair loss typically occurs 4-7 weeks after starting. Daily shedding increases from well under 70 to above 100. Hair loss occurs all over the scalp rather than in any given area. Hair loss from amphetamines can also occur on the body hair.

Hair loss can be from the drug itself or the caloric and nutritional deficiencies that come from the appetite suppressing effect of these drugs.


Evaluation of the patient with suspected amphetamine induced hair loss

It is important for anyone with suspected amphetamine induced hair loss to see a physician. The first step is to determine if the timing of the hair loss and the type of hair loss pattern fit with a diagnosis of amphetamine induced hair loss. On some occasions, the hair loss and amphetamine use is simply a coincidence.  If the amphetamine use is thought to be contributory, it is important to determine if the patient has a telogen effluvium from the actual drug, or from a nutritional deficiency that the drug has brought about or from another cause such as androgenetic alopecia.  Blood tests are necessary for anyone with amphetamine induced hair loss to look for underlying nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes a hair collection or biopsy is also performed.  

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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