Alopecia areata is a patchy hair loss associated with immune disturbances. In this condition the immune system attacks the hair follicles thereby impairing hair growth. It is more likely to occur in people with other immune-related disorders and has also been linked to psychological stress as well as with certain drugs like some types of ARVs used for HIV treatment. Alopecia areata does not only affect the scalp as commonly thought. The eyebrows and beard area, as well as hairy parts anywhere on the body may be affected.
The real culprit appears to be dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent form of testosterone. DHT is made from testosterone by a specific enzyme in the body, and while both testosterone and DHT are known to have a weakening effect on hair follicles, there appears to be something unique about the conversion process of testosterone to DHT that relates to thinning hair. This is why some drugs that are marketed for hair loss block the conversion of testosterone to DHT. (It’s important to note, however, that these drugs tend to be less effective in women than men, and that one of them—finasteride—is only approved for hormonal hair loss in men, not women. What’s more, the drug has been associated with increased risk of sexual side effects, depression, nausea, hot flashes, and increased estrogen levels—and too much estrogen is its own risk factor for thinning hair; more on that below.)
Some medications have side effects that include hair loss. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing significant hair loss and you think that your medication might be the cause. Your doctor might be able to switch you over to another type of medicine without any reported side effects. Don’t stop taking your medications until you’ve spoken with your doctor, as this could be dangerous for your health.
Low iron and low B12 can arise from a variety of causes including autoimmunity, poor intake, depletion due to medications (i.e. antacids) or bad digestion and are common causes of hair loss. But other common nutrient deficiencies can arise as part of a less than stellar diet low in zinc, protein (especially the amino acid lysine) or a deficiency of vitamin B6 (a very common issue with women taking hormones like the birth control pill). Low vitamin D has also been linked to excessive hair loss as has excessive vitamin A intake (less common.)
“…a beauty editor told me she had been using Viviscal... Since beauty editors see truckloads of products every week, I was immediately convinced when she said it worked – so I bought it myself. I started taking it twice a day for the first six months and saw dramatic results within three to four months. My hair was less thinned out …and it was also less brittle. I’ve gone to the same hairdresser since I was 19, and he was the first to comment on how full and strong my hair looked…”
Furthermore, Penn dermatopathologists developed an even more advanced method called the HoVert technique for diagnosing hair loss and other disorders from a scalp biopsy. The technique uses a unique horizontal and vertical testing approach that provides a greater amount of information to the referring dermatologist than standard industry longitudinal scalp biopsies.
The hormone imbalance known as hypothyroidism is a common cause of abnormal eyebrow thinning, especially in women; roughly 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease, and about 80 percent of them are women. Thinning eyebrows appear as a symptom of both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid production) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid production), alongside issues such as excessive fatigue, difficulty losing weight and constantly feeling cold. If your brows appear particularly thin around the edges, visit your doctor for a thyroid screening, which should include thorough blood work. With prescription medication, your eyebrows should fill back in over the ensuing months.
Blow dryers, flat irons, and other devices: Frequent use of a blow dryer tends to damage hair. The high heat from a blow dryer can boil the water in the hair shaft leaving the hair brittle and prone to breakage. Dermatologists recommend that you allow your hair to air dry. Then style your hair when it is dry. Dermatologists also recommend limiting the use of flat irons (these straighten hair by using high heat) and curling irons.
Hansen’s disease – Hansen’s disease, popularly known as leprosy could cause loss of eyebrows. This condition is cause by infection of a bacterial known as mycobacterium leprae and if it affects your eyebrows region, you expect to lose some eyebrows i.e. if it affects your eyebrow skin region, a place it often afflicts, you could suffer from permanent eyebrow hair loss as ‘Tulay Cakiner-Egilmez, Ph.D., R.N’ reports in ‘Journal of the American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses’. This and other infections that can cause loss of eyebrows.
Certain medical issues can also impair hair growth. An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can cause hair loss. So can iron deficiency. When women go through menopause and their estrogen levels fall, their hair often begins to thin. Many women also lose some hair a few months after giving birth because of the hormonal changes the body experiences.
Dutasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor that binds both types I and II enzymes. Compared with finasteride, its inhibition of type II enzymes is three times more potent; its inhibition of type I enzymes is 100 times more potent (Clark et al., 2004). Dutasteride is not approved for the treatment of FPHL by the FDA, and ongoing studies on the efficacy of the inhibitor are promising but largely focus on male patients (Gupta and Charrette, 2014, Olsen et al., 2006). A study of women after 3 years of therapy showed that dutasteride may be more effective than finasteride in women under 50 years of age as measured by hair thickness (not hair density) at the center and vertex scalp (Boersma et al., 2014). One case report of a 46-year-old female with FPHL showed some response after 6 months of treatment with a dose of 0.5-mg dutasteride daily despite a minimal response to treatment with finasteride and minoxidil (Olszewska and Rudnicka, 2005). Data with regard to the treatment side effects in women is extremely limited. Dutasteride is classified as pregnancy category X because of teratogenicity and should have the same theoretical risk of breast cancer as mentioned in relation to finasteride (Kelly et al., 2016).
Hormones don’t just affect your mood, they are also common culprits of hair loss. A hormone imbalance caused by thyroid disease, pregnancy, menopause, or hormone medication (like birth control pills) can lead to eyebrow loss. Thankfully, once you identify the source of the hormone imbalance and address the problem, your hair will likely grow back naturally.
The WHI was a very large, very prominent long-term study which looked at the health effects of HRT. While the study did find a few benefits (women who used HRT had fewer hip or bone fractures and were less likely to develop colorectal cancer), it found a number of risks, including an increased chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and blood clots.
Disclaimer: The information on Natural Fertility Info.com is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Hethir Rodriguez and her community. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
Women using oestrogen supplementation or taking birth control pills will also experience hair loss when they cease supplying their body with extra oestrogen. These forms of hair loss may be temporary but this, however, does not mean that there is no link between oestrogen and permanent hair loss. Scientists have noted up to 30 hormones that could play a role in female pattern hair loss – the genetic kind of hair loss – and oestrogen, whilst poorly explored, may be one of them. It’s alright if the excess hairs are the ones that are lost but when normal hair falls out, there’s a problem.
Mistakenly thought to be an exclusively male disease, women make up a significant percentage of hair loss sufferers all around the world. Forty percent of women have visible hair loss by the time they are age 40. After menopause, that number increases even more. Hair loss in women can be absolutely devastating for self-confidence, self-image and emotional well-being. Although it is not a life threatening disease and sometimes underestimated by physicians, hair loss can take an emotional toll that directly affects physical health. Hair is an important part of woman’s face and beauty, therefore it is not easy for any woman to face changes that affect the quality and especially the quantity of her hair. Hair loss in women is a serious life-altering condition that shouldn’t be ignored and has to be diagnosed and treated in the best possible way.
Finasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase type II inhibitor, and although it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia, it is not approved for FPHL. Finasteride is significantly teratogenic and has been shown to cause feminization of male fetuses (Bowman et al., 2003) as well as sexual side effects, depression, headache, nausea, and hot flashes (Varothai and Bergfeld, 2014). The decreased conversion of testosterone to DHT causes a build-up of testosterone, which subsequently converts to estradiol and creates a relative estrogen excess, and this could theoretically increase the risk of breast cancer (Kelly et al., 2016). Studies that use low doses (1 mg daily) showed no significant benefit (Kim et al., 2012, Price et al., 2000). However, one study of 37 premenopausal women who were taking a 2.5-mg dose of finasteride daily with an oral contraceptive pill showed improvement of hair loss in 62% of patients (Iorizzo et al., 2006). Another study of 87 pre- and postmenopausal normoandrogenic patients who were taking a 5-mg dose of finasteride per day for 12 months showed a significant increase in both hair density and thickness (Yeon et al., 2011). The effectiveness of finasteride does not seem to differ between pre- and postmenopausal patients (Yeon et al., 2011). Finasteride is classified as pregnancy category X.
The term “common baldness” usually means male-pattern baldness, or permanent-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head.
There can be any number of different factors contributing to your hair loss. If you’re reading this and thinking, “well I have that and that, and am going through that,” then you may already have an idea of what is a contributing cause for you. You may already be doing much of what is suggested here and may learn of additional ideas to consider trying.
Telogen effluvium, a type of scalp hair loss characterized by hair shedding, may affect the eyebrows as well. It can be caused by any emotional or physiological stress, for example acute or chronic illnesses, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, and medications that alter the normal hair cycle and cause the hair the enter the telogen phase prematurely.
"Others are taking hair follicles out of human scalp and growing them with dermal papilla cells," Cotsarelis says. "If they grow in culture, you might be able to recombine them with skin cells and form new follicles. This would let you expand the number of follicles you get for a hair transplant. This may not be that far off -- five to 10 years, maybe. There's very good evidence you will be able to do that."
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
To prove the fact that this does not happen on your scalp alone, Everyday Health notes, “too much thyroid hormone, the hair on your head can become fine, with thinning hair all over the scalp. When there is too little of this hormone, there can be hair loss, not just on the scalp, but also anywhere on the body”. This proves patients with underactive thyroid (low thyroid) can have their eyelashes and eyebrows falling off.
Skin infections can cause hair loss at the affected area. One of the more common causes is a fungal infection of the skin, also sometimes referred to as a ringworm. Eyebrow fungus is more likely to be related to a scalp fungus (tinea capitis) and both areas are often affected at the same time. A bacterial infection is another possible cause. Folliculitis for example is a condition where the hair follicle becomes infected usually with bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. Eventually this can lead to loss of the hair in the infected follicle.
Hair loss on the eyebrows can be partial where the hair falls off in patches or the eyebrow thins and shortens abnormally. It may occur on one side or both sides. It can also be complete where all the hair on one or both eyebrows are lost. These patterns of eyebrow hair loss can give some indication of the underlying cause even when there are no other symptoms. Some of these conditions may be specific to the eyebrows (the hair follicles and skin in that region) or can be an extension of problems affecting surrounding skin like the face, forehead or scalp.

Androstenedione, which is mostly produced in the ovary and adrenal glands, is converted to testosterone by 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. Testosterone then circulates throughout the body to reach its target tissues. Androgen-metabolizing enzymes have been found in many parts of the hair follicle (Table 1; Bolognia et al., 2012). The presence of those enzymes makes the pilosebaceous unit a site of androgen metabolism and synthesis (Fazekas and Sandor, 1973). Circulating free testosterone either binds to intracellular androgen receptors in the hair bulb and dermal papilla, which facilitates miniaturization of the follicle, or is metabolized into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. DHT then binds the same receptor but with much greater affinity (Kaufman, 2002, Levy and Emer, 2013). Of the androgens depicted in Figure 1, only DHT and testosterone bind to androgen receptors (Burger, 2002).


The hormone imbalance known as hypothyroidism is a common cause of abnormal eyebrow thinning, especially in women; roughly 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease, and about 80 percent of them are women. Thinning eyebrows appear as a symptom of both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid production) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid production), alongside issues such as excessive fatigue, difficulty losing weight and constantly feeling cold. If your brows appear particularly thin around the edges, visit your doctor for a thyroid screening, which should include thorough blood work. With prescription medication, your eyebrows should fill back in over the ensuing months.
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If you are suffering from hair loss on your head AND your brows, you might be suffering from a protein deficiency of some sort. A supplement like Viviscal (available here), which is packed with marine protein, could help your condition. Viviscal has been shown to treat alopecia areata, as well as androgen-related hair loss (Journal of International Medical Research, 1992; FutureDerm). It will take some time, though: changes in protein in the diet have been shown to correspond with protein in the hair within 6-12 months (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1999; Futurederm).


What she doesn’t mention is how to regrow your brows after chemo-related brow loss! If you have recently undergone chemotherapy, your brows may be a bit wonky in the beginning, but you still want them, right? They are the frame for your beautiful face. Every October we host a “Buy One Give One for the Cure” campaign, where for every bottle of WINK  sold, we donate one to a cancer survivor. If that’s you, shoot us an email so we can get you hooked up.

Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy, is an infection of the skin and nerves caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. The disease often affects the skin of the eyebrow region, leading to loss of sensation and permanent loss of the eyebrow hairs. There are numerous other rare and uncommon causes of eyebrow hair loss, including vitamin A toxicity, nutritional disorders and other dermatological disorders. If you experience loss of eyebrow hair, see your doctor to evaluate the cause and to discuss a treatment plan.
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