Can hydrocodone cause hair loss?

If you use pain killers like Vicodin (hydrocodone), you want to know more about side effects. Get a qualified answer about hydrocodone and hair loss here.

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How hair grows

Hair grows about a 1/2 inch per month. Each hair is replaced on our heads once every five (5) years, or so. In fact, we lose about 100 hairs on our heads every day, which is normal. But why do we lose hair permanently? And can the use of pain killers such as hydrocodone cause use to lose hair?

Main causes of hair loss

Most forms of hair loss are caused by genetic factors which stop the production on new hairs, rather than excessive hair loss. And hair loss can commonly occur after excessive shampooing/blow-drying or due to nervous habits such as continual hair pulling or scalp rubbing. It’s also important to know that excessive physical or emotional stress can cause us to shed 25-75% of our hair in a condition that doctors call “Telogen effluvium”. Other possible causes of hair loss include:

  • crash diets (make sure you have enough protein)
  • high fever
  • hormonal changes from childbirth or menopause
  • major illness
  • major surgery
  • severe emotional stress
  • severe infection
  • sudden blood loss

Medications that can cause hair loss

Certain medicines such as those prescribed to treat cancer, arthritis, depression, or heart problems can cause hair loss. For hair loss due to medication use no treatment is necessary. The hair will usually grow back when the illness has ended or the therapy is finished. Common medications that cause hair loss include:

  • antidepressants
  • beta-blockers
  • birth control pills
  • calcium channel blockers
  • non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs (including ibuprofen)
  • retinoids

Does hydrocodone cause hair loss?

There have been no toxicity reports of cases of hair loss due to hydrocodone use. However, hydrocodone is often combined with other non-opioid compounds such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which may cause hair loss (see above).

Medical conditions that can cause hair loss

If you notice that you are losing hair, it is wise to seek a medical opinion from your family doctor. If needed, your doctor can then suggest diagnostic exams such as microscopic examination or skin biopisy…and recommend a follow up diagnosis with a specialist. Other medical conditions that can cause hair loss include:

  • Alopecia areata
  • Autoimmune conditions such as lupus
  • Burns
  • Infectious diseases
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp)
  • Tumors (ovarian or adrenal glands)
Reference sources: National Library of Medicine Hazardous Substances Data Bank on The Drug Hydrocodone
Florida Health Finder [dot] gov Medical Encyclopedia on “Hair loss”
Skin and Hair Health Flyer from Women’s Health [dot] gov
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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