Can multiple sclerosis cause hair loss

Can multiple sclerosis cause hair loss?

Losing your hair can be something that many people worry about happening to them in general, but MSers might worry about if their multiple sclerosis (MS) could be encouraging alopecia.

By the end of this blog, you’ll gain a better understanding of how hair loss can happen but not directly due to the disease.

MS itself doesn’t cause it

You’ll be glad to know that MS has no direct impact on developing hair loss, as it is an autoimmune disease affecting the brain and spinal cord (not hair follicles). Despite a variety of symptoms it can produce, hair loss is not one associated with multiple sclerosis.

However, much like immunosuppression, the ways that MS is treated alongside other factors associated with the disease can lead to a loss of hair.

What can lead to hair loss

The side effects of these methods of treating MS have been shown to cause hair loss for MSers.


Studies have shown that some immunosuppressive treatments like DMTs can lead to alopecia. Drugs like the Beta interferons (both Beta 1a and Beta 1b), Teriflunomide (Aubagio), and more can produce this side effect.

A small study suggested that between 10% – 14% of people taking Teriflunomide experience hair loss for example as well as 1/3 of people taking Beta interferons in similar studies.

It is important to note also that hair loss and thinning of hair is often temporary, only lasting for a few months whilst adjusting to taking a DMT medication.


Steroids are often given when a person first relapses as a short-term solution. They have been shown to damage follicles on the scalp, leading to hair thinning and loss.

It’s not that common a symptom and in some cases the opposite is actually the case (this hair you’ve lost can grow back, but this does depend on a variety of factors).

HSCT (Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation)

This treatment requires a bone marrow transplant to replace unhealthy blood cells with healthy ones. It’s very similar to chemotherapy as its aim is to reset the immune system to hopefully stop MS from attacking the body.

Much like chemotherapy for cancer, this process will likely result in the complete loss of hair which can grow back (again, re-growth is dependent on a lot of other factors).

It’s also worth noting that other medications that aren’t related to MS can be a factor in causing hair loss. It may be worth looking into what side effects these can produce and consult with the relevant medical professionals about your concerns.

Other factors that can contribute



Psychological or emotional stress has the opportunity to lead to hair loss and thinning. In terms of an MSer, getting the diagnosis or the build-up to it can be incredibly stressful and cause this to occur.

Other traumatic events, bodily changes (like menopause), coming off birth control, and so many other factors can induce more stress for a person.


What you eat makes a difference not only on general health, but also on your hair health.

There are links between vitamin deficiencies and hair loss including vitamin D which is also linked to MS, in addition to severe calorie restrictions.

It’s important to take factors like these into account around hair loss and realistically identify what could be causing it.

What about other kinds of hair loss

Again, MS has nothing to do with other ways a person can lose hair (such as pattern baldness). Elements like genetics can influence how your hair develops overtime and is a natural process in many people’s lives. It is very normal to see hair thinning or losing it as you get older, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your hair isn’t as full or thick as it used to be.

Take care of your hair

If you’re worried about your hair or suspect you are losing hair as a result of MS then there are ways to help encourage regrowth

  • Show your hair and scalp some TLC by washing it gently and moisturising your hair
  • Be wary of the hairstyle you go with as this can cause traction alopecia, possibly making your hair loss worse (braids and other tight hair styles can lead to this)
  • Practicing mindfulness can make managing stress easier and in turn potentially improve stress-related hair loss
  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet can help in maintaining good hair health – making sure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need can make a big difference
  • People going through HSCT can also try using a cold cap on their heads, it’s aim is to reduce hair loss but is not guaranteed to work

We hope that this blog has helped inform you more about how MS can impact hair loss / alopecia but isn’t the direct cause. After learning more about what might be leading to your hair loss, you can help identify with medical assistance what could be causing this and potentially work towards reducing it.

If you’d like to learn more about the broad topic of MS and what we’ve mentioned in this blog, then just click the buttons below to find out more.