There are many types of diseases and illnesses that can lead to hair loss: Some worse than others. Cushing’s syndrome is one of the less common ones, however, if you are one of the ones who suffer from hair loss due to Cushing’s syndrome, it is just as devastating to you.
The problem is one that calls for attention and there is help.
What is Cushing’s syndrome?
It is a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of body tissue to high levels of Cortisol. It is a rare condition and usually affects people ages 21-50.
The syndrome affects nearly 15 million people every year.
What causes Cushing’s syndrome? Sometimes taking certain types of hormones like Prednisone (taken for rheumatoid arthritis or asthma) or immunosuppression after a transplant can lead to the condition developing. Other people have developed it because their body overproduces Cortisol on its own.
Cortisol is needed in the body to help maintain blood pressure, improve cardiovascular function, help the immune system response, and regulate the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Cortisol helps the body respond to stress. Therefore, women dealing with pregnancies, and people undergoing depression or panic attacks would have increased Cortisol levels.
Too Much Cortisol
These increased levels of cortisol are what cause hair loss in an individual with Cushing’s syndrome. What happens is that the increase in Cortisol combined with other hormones causes the body to treat the hair follicles as an organ that is being rejected and in return, the hair follicles die and the hair falls out.
There are numerous studies being done that link Cortisol to the hair loss seen in many balding patients. If indeed cortisol is the main factor in those who suffer from hair loss not only in those with Cushing’s syndrome but in all baldness, it is then there is a way to treat it, which is great news for those with increased cortisol levels.
The studies are not conclusive as of yet, however, research is getting closer each day.
In the meantime, there are several treatment options available to those who suffer from hair loss associated with Cushing’s syndrome. A hair transplant seems extreme since, with treatment for the disease, the hair will certainly return. However, there are less extreme measures that one can take to increase hair growth.
Rogaine is one treatment that is widely used to treat baldness. Another is hair thickening products and supplements.
Curiously in the opposite direction, there are also problems with hair growth. Women usually have excess hair growth, affecting areas like their faces, necks or chests.
How is Cushing’s syndrome treated? Treatment largely depends on the reason for the overproduction of Cortisol. It might include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or simply the use of Cortisol-inhibiting drugs.
More research is being done on Cushing’s syndrome by scientists in areas of prevention, cure and more accurate means of diagnosis. In the meantime, the hair loss associated with Cushing’s syndrome can be treated with over-the-counter medications and camouflaging techniques.