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DigitalBlue's avatar

Did thyroid medication improve your hair and skin?

Asked by DigitalBlue (6656 points ) November 9th, 2013

My doctor put me on Synthroid. I’ve been complaining of dry/thinning hair and dry skin forever. Any chance I’ll see an improvement? I’ve heard that the medication doesn’t make a huge difference in symptoms for a lot of people, just wondering if any jellies can speak from experience.

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21 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

It might.

Smitha's avatar

Partial hair loss may occur rarely during the first few months of SYNTHROID therapy, but this is usually temporary.The following side effects are associated with Synthroid oral. I think you need to consult with an educated specialist in thyroid issues. Since you are concerned about the amount of hair you are losing, here are “some steps to take”:
http://thyroid.about.com/cs/hairloss/a/hairloss.htm.

cazzie's avatar

I had just the opposite problem. My thyroid was over active so I was anti-thyroid meds. It did help me. My hair hasn’t really been the same, but it stopped falling out as much and I stopped sweating and shaking profusely. My itching stopped but I had gotten allergies that had to be treated.

JLeslie's avatar

Absolutely! It is improved until I get overmedicated and then it dries out and falls out again, and then I lower my meds and have more hair in better condition for a few mo ths until I slide down into being undermedicated. I literally can feel my hair growing. Little baby hairs fill my head, my hair overall feels tighter in my head. That’s how it is for me. I don’t know which number actually influences the hair, if it is T3 or T4 or a combination thereof or something else. I mostly watch my TSH. When I am overmedicated, basically like being hyperthyroid, my hair grows in, but falls out like crazy. When I am hypo it falls out and doesn’t grow back in much. Both my hair is dry and brittle.

I know by my hair and other symtpoms when my TSH is moving outside of normal, but getting a blood test to make sure it isn’t on the edge of nornal helps me control it better before I get really really way off. Your numbers were never way off though I am guessing, because aren’t you the jelly that most doctors felt your thyroid numbers were ok? Make absolutely sure you go for a follow up blood test within 6 weeks. In fact I wish they would do it for you in 4 weeks and again in another 4 weeks, if not sooner, but most doctors don’t. How long are they making you wait for the follow up blood test? You need at least two follow ups no matter what.

My skin is less itchy and less dry when I am in my ideal range and my eyes are so much better. I need eye drops when my thyroid is over or underactive. When I am very very outside of normal I get a slight rash that itches, it feels like a light case of cellulitis on my chest, neck and chin, and even my ears itch.

JLeslie's avatar

@Smitha I really question the claims that synthroid causes hair loss. I think being under or overactive thyroid causes the loss. The thing is when the studies are dine for medication people report every symptom while on the med, so even if the medication doesn’t cause a symptom it is blamed for it.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Thyroid regulates metabolism.

Metabolism influences growth and regeneration.

It’s rather likely that your hair will grow more quickly and robustly.

Skin will turn over faster, improving it’s appearance.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@JLeslie 6 weeks is my follow up appointment. My numbers were still in normal range, my doctor said, but he said that since I have presented like a textbook case of hypothyroidism for as long as I’ve been going to see him, he wants to try the medicine for a little while. So far I feel okay, nothing dramatic, but it has been less than a week. I forgot to request a copy of my blood work, so I don’t know what they were, but he tested TSH, T4, T3 and I feel like there was something else, but I’m not sure. All I know is that he said he is treating me and “not treating numbers” so, I feel like it is worth a try. I don’t know what they look for when it’s already normal, I guess just to be sure that I don’t cross over into hyper territory?
For as long as I can remember I’ve battled with fatigue, chronic dry skin, dry eyes, dry and brittle hair that is often sparse, I have IBS with constipation (also can be attributed to the endo, along with the fatigue), depression, the list goes on and on. Nothing dietary or cosmetic that I have ever tried has ever made a difference. You know recently I cut gluten and it helped a great deal with my fatigue and with my feeling constantly unable to focus and my memory issues, it also rapidly and dramatically improved my anxiety, all of which seemed like thyroid stuff, so who knows. It also helped with things that wouldn’t be related to thyroid, like diarrhea and bowel pain. I am a mess. :)

Though, I really am feeling better than I have in several years, so I shouldn’t complain. I just never know quite what to expect.

JLeslie's avatar

@DigitalBlue What dose are you taking? 25mcg daily?

I have a little advice. If you start to feel much much better, get a blood test then, so you can try to figure what your numbers are like when you feel good. Even if it is next week. This whole exercise your doctor is willing to try is about how you feel so hopefully he will go along with it if you are interested in doing it. No matter what you will still need another test at 6–8 weeks. If you start to feel more anxious, less able to sleep, pounding or racing heart, or even dryer skin and eyes ask for a blood test. If you feel like that at 4 weeks, waiting 6 weeks you might be extremely uncomfortable. Plus, it takes time for your thyroid to adjust (which is why they wait to test until 6 weeks) so if you are getting overmedicated you want to know as soon as you can. When I first started on meds some things corrected that I did not even expect.

My feeling good is in a higher range of TSH then endo’s usually shoot for. If I relied only on labs I never would feel good. But, I do have numbers that I now know are my good range.

It would be interesting to know what your numbers were. If you feel like entertaining my curiousity maybe you will get a copy next time. Actually, I encourage you to always get a copy of your labs and write notes on it how you felt the day of the test. Keep it all in a folder so you can track it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Most likely, it will help you. A chief complaint of thyroid disease is skin and hair problems, and fatigue. The synthroid should help with your symptoms. I actually prefer Armor’s thyroid over synthroid. :)

JLeslie's avatar

I prefer Armour also. In fact, sometimes people just need a little T3 and not any T4. The T3 alone only comes in synthetic though. Thyroid problems are such a pain in the ass. Lots of trial and error.

Many people do well on synthroid. Hopefully, the OP feels better soon.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@JLeslie that’s smart, I’ll run it by my doctor. No, he started me on 50mcg, which surprised me. Hypothyroidism runs in my family and my husband also has it, so I expected it to be 25mcg, but no. I will try to remember to get a copy of my test results, I did mean to do that even for myself, but my doctor made it sound like everything was dead center of normal. But, like I said, my symptoms have been there for years, I don’t think I’ve EVER gone and he hasn’t checked my thyroid. The family history combined with my persistent symptoms make him raise his eyebrows every time, but every time they come back totally normal. Guess we will see how it goes!
I really hope that it does help, I have been on this upswing with my health recently, and it would be damn nice to finally just be situated. I just didn’t really know what to expect with the medication for this, because my family members either don’t remember what it was like to be without thyroid meds because it has been so long or don’t feel tremendously better on them. Which is fine, if I don’t feel better, I’m guessing he’ll take me off of them, but I also just don’t really know what to expect. Plus, I’m vain, and I would actually like to not have skin the texture of desert sand for a change.

JLeslie's avatar

@DigitalBlue Oh, my loss of hair affects my vanity more than I ever expected. I am not particularly vain, but the hair is a trauma.

50 mcg sounds high to me. But, I know you will be on top of it, so I would not worry about it. You will know, trust me, if you are getting way overmedicated.

I did mention vitamin D to you right? I am not saying it will help with hair or skin, but overall I feel better when my D levels are good. Does he check that? You are pale like me.

I did read something a few months ago about a theory regarding iron and hair. I don’t think there is scientific proof. I am low in iron if I don’t take a bunch.

JLeslie's avatar

I once saw a doctor talk about patients with basically all normal thyroid numbers doing amazing well on just T3. That drug name is Cytomel. I don’t know much about it though, and I think he is out on a limb with his view on it. You would want to see if with the synthroid your T4 goes up, your T3 should go up, and your TSH should come down. If the T3 doesn’t move, but the others do, it might mean your body fails to convert the T4 to T3.

Probably too much information right now.

This will be very interesting. I love this sort of experiment. I’m always trying to stabilize my thyroid with little changes (always with the cooperation of my doctor). I also do it with my cholesterol levels. Changing diet, running my numbers, etc. Not constantly, but now and then over the years.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Getting thyroid up should also make it easier to maintain correct weight.

Scrub and moisturize your face.

You should see improvements in no time.

Massage your scalp with a brush daily.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@JLeslie no, you hadn’t, but I do take vit D and I’m also on prenatals, so I get an iron supplement. Though, I also try to get plenty of dietary iron, since with my issues the iron is always a risk. I had it tested before my surgery and it was good, I think my GP included that also, but we didn’t talk about it. I forgot to ask about vit D but I really was curious about the same. I feel like I’m in a risk group for being deficient, because I am pale and I also use sunscreen, and I live in an awfully gloomy climate, and I am just probably not out in the sun enough anyhow. Also, not drinking milk seems like it would only compound those reasons to worry. I will definitely ask my doctor, maybe he already tested, I don’t know.
I’m not unlike you in that I like to keep tabs on these things and I try to be proactive about my health. I did get discouraged for a while there, which I’m sure I told you, but I still am always trying to improve, trying to find what works for me, my health is important to me. I don’t know why it isn’t to so many of my peers. Maybe being sick all of the time does that to a person, who knows. But for me, I like feeling like there is something that I can do or try, and I do. I am always changing my diet, trying new exercise routines, vitamins, researching.
I think that is part of it right now, I feel like I’m on a roll after feeling so sick and depressed and miserable for so long, now I have to run with it. I keep telling myself I’m on my way to feeling like a million bucks, hopefully that’s true. I will keep you posted about how it goes with this medication, I am really hopeful, but also nervous. Guess we will see in a few weeks!
Thanks for weighing in on this, and also the other jellies with thyroid concerns who can speak from experience. I appreciate it.

JLeslie's avatar

@DigitalBlue I wonder if the iron levels and D have been part of you feeling much better lately? Those two things are so obvious to me when my levels are nornal. I can feel it. I can predict it now, predict what the tests will say by how I feel. Taking D doesn’t make me feel better, it is when my D actually gets up into normal ranges that I can feel it. In my opinion not drinking milk means nothing. Milk doesn’t have enough D to make an impact and milk inhibits the absorption of the D anyway. That’s the midwesterner in you maybe? When I moved to Michigan I couldn’t believe how many people drink milk with a meal. I had never seen it before, except in school lunch where they gave us no other choice. My husband also never drank milk with meals. His mother hates milk, it was never served, they never ate cereal, the only time they had milk was when the kids were infants of course, and if a milk product was used in a recipe. My husband’s D is fine and he is darker. But, he goes in the sun.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

My case of hypothyroidism is mild enough that I can keep the level up with iodine found in kelp tablets.

It makes a night and day difference with my concentration and energy levels.

It also helps me keep my appetite in check.

JLeslie's avatar

@SecondHandStoke So your thyroid numbers were improved with the kelp? Or, you just feel better? I know two people who tried kelp and it didn’t work. But, if it does work it begs the question I was asking here, or maybe it was a different Q about iodine levels.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

It’s been a very long time since I was tested. The doctor retested me and said my numbers had crossed into the acceptable range.

I mentioned my past mild hypothyroidism and my current doctor did a visual and tactile exam, said I’m fine.

There’s no risk I know of by simply trying the kelp. I’d do it with a doctor’s supervision.

Too much kelp gave me Restless Leg Syndrome. I have since found a balance.

(Obligatory I am not a doctor, I am not your doctor)

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Synthroid is a lifesaver for many people.

However use of Synthroid will cause your natural production of thyroid to drop. I’d suggest it as a last option.

Use of animal hormone will make you an non candidate for blood donation, a thing that’s important to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@SecondHandStoke Do you have some sort of link about not being able to donote blood if you are on animal hormones? I never heard that before.

I am all for trying kelp or iodine instead of synthroid if numbers are just slightly off. If it works that’s fabulous. I just haven’t known anyone it has worked for in America. Your doctor just going by visual and tactile when you have a history sounds ridiculous to me. I think visual andbtactile is important, but the blood tests should be run also I think. Ironically my doctor was happy with my blood levels (new doctor) when I knew I was overmedicated. He said my thyroid felt large. Well, yeah, that was point, for me I was overmedicated.

I would guess it is possible to have too much iodine. You said yourself you had symptoms like RLS from it. Maybe the best thing is to actually get your iodine level checked.

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