Dermatology

What to know about eyebrow hair loss

Many factors can cause eyebrow hair loss, including hormonal imbalances, diet, and some skin conditions. Determining the cause of eyebrow hair loss can help a person find the best treatment.

Eyebrow hair loss, the medical name for which is eyebrow hypotrichosis, or eyebrow madarosis, can cause a person to notice thinning hair or missing patches of hair in their eyebrows. It can affect both males and females.

People may notice eyebrow hair loss on one or both sides. Other symptoms can include itchiness, dry skin, and hair loss or hair thinning on other parts of the body.

Typically, eyebrow hair loss is not serious. In this article, we discuss different causes and treatments, as well as diagnosis.

Causes

The following sections look at the possible causes of eyebrow hair loss.

Normal aging processes

Woman looking at her eyebrows in the mirror
The aging process or hormonal imbalances may cause eyebrow hair loss.

As people get older, they may notice hair thinning or loss affecting the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and elsewhere.

Over time, some hair follicles stop producing hair, and the hair shafts become finer. The hair also begins to lose its color, becoming white or gray.

This type of hair loss is a normal part of getting older.

Hormonal imbalances

An imbalance of thyroid hormones can cause eyebrow hair to fall out. This is linked to the following conditions:

  • hyperthyroidism, a condition wherein the body creates too much thyroid hormone
  • hypothyroidism, in which the body does not create enough thyroid hormone

Both types of thyroid imbalance are linked to eyebrow hair loss. Specifically, in hypothyroidism, a person may notice hair loss in the outer third of the eyebrow, which is the thinnest part that points toward the ears.

Other symptoms of thyroid disorders include:

  • dry, pale skin or moist, velvety skin
  • a swelling in the neck (a goiter)
  • coarse, dry, and brittle hair
  • a dry, itchy scalp
  • thick, dry, brittle nails

Thyroid-related hair loss is usually temporary, and the hair should return to its usual fullness once thyroid levels return to normal.

Doctors can prescribe medication to balance thyroid levels.

Autoimmune conditions

Autoimmune conditions develop when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own body cells. The immune system may attack healthy cells that contribute to hair growth. This can lead to thinning hair, patches of hair loss, or hair falling out.

Autoimmune conditions that can cause hair loss include:

  • alopecia areata, a condition that causes patches of hair loss on the head and other areas of the body, which can include the eyebrows
  • frontal fibrosing alopecia, a form of alopecia that mainly affects people after menopause; eyebrow hair loss occurs before scalp hair loss in around 39% of cases
  • discoid lupus erythematosus, a chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin sores, scarring, and hair loss on the face and eyebrows

Skin conditions

Healthy skin is important for healthy hair. This is because hair grows directly from follicles in the skin.

Certain skin conditions can cause itchy, flaking skin rashes. People may lose eyebrow hairs as a result of skin inflammation, dry skin, and rubbing or itching the area around the eyebrows.

Common skin conditions that can cause itchy rashes and eyebrow hair loss include:

  • atopic dermatitis
  • psoriasis
  • seborrheic dermatitis

Nutritional deficiencies

woman in a store shopping for msm supplements
Zinc supplements may help with hair regrowth.

The food a person eats has a substantial impact on their skin and hair health. The body needs certain nutrients to create healthy hair.

The following nutritional deficiencies can cause eyebrow hair loss:

Fatty acid deficiency: According to one 2017 review study, having a lack of fatty acids — which are present in fish, nuts, and seeds — in the body may cause eyebrow hair loss.

Biotin deficiency: Not getting enough biotin can result in thinning hair and a loss of body hair. Although biotin is a popular hair growth supplement, there is limited evidence to support its effectiveness.

Zinc deficiency: A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss. The authors of a review study say that zinc supplements may help with hair regrowth in people with a deficiency.

Learn about foods to try for healthy hair growth here.

Medication side effects

Certain medications cause hair loss as a potential side effect, which can also affect the eyebrows. Such medications include:

  • acitretin, a retinoid drug that people use to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis
  • chemotherapy, a treatment for cancer
  • valproic acid, an anticonvulsant drug that treats seizures and bipolar disorder

Genetic conditions

Although less common, certain genetic conditions can lead to eyebrow hair loss. Conditions include:

  • Ectodermal dysplasias: This is a group of conditions affecting the skin, hair, nails, and teeth. They can also cause sparse or missing hair in the eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body parts.
  • Netherton syndrome: This condition affects the skin, hair, and immune system. It can cause fragile and easily broken hair, or “bamboo hair.” This condition tends to be present from birth.

Other causes

Less common reasons for eyebrow hair loss include:

  • radiation
  • amyloidosis
  • sarcoidosis
  • chemical burns
  • trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder
  • basal cell carcinoma
  • folliculotropic mycosis fungoides
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • syphilis
  • leprosy

Treatments and remedies

The first step for dealing with eyebrow hair loss is to consult a doctor to identify the cause of the hair loss. The following sections discuss common treatments for eyebrow hair loss.

Topical bimatoprost 0.03%

With Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for helping with eyelash regrowth, bimatoprost is a topical treatment that people apply directly to the eyelashes. Several studies have found that applying bimatoprost once per day can bring very promising results.

One case study describes a woman who achieved “excellent and sustained growth of her eyebrows” after applying bimatoprost 0.03% solution every day.

Side effects of bimatoprost 0.03% can include:

  • contact dermatitis
  • skin hyperpigmentation
  • itchy skin

Corticosteroids

Applying steroid creams or ointments can slow hair loss. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), studies have shown an improved regrowth of 25% when using strong topical corticosteroids.

People can also get corticosteroid injections to stimulate hair growth. Doctors often administer these injections to help treat alopecia areata. The NAAF say that people generally see hair growth within 4 weeks of this treatment.

Minoxidil

People often use minoxidil and corticosteroids together to treat alopecia areata.

When a person applies a 5% minoxidil solution topically twice per day, it is minimally effective. It may help to combine with corticosteroids to produce better results.

Hair transplant or microblading

Another option is hair transplanting or microblading. This does not enable the regrowth of hair, but it can give the eyebrows a fuller appearance.

Diagnosis

researcher analyzing blood test tube
A doctor may order a blood test for T3 and T4 thyroid hormone levels.

Doctors can use a range of tests to determine why a person is experiencing eyebrow hair loss.

They will first ask about symptoms, symptom duration, and any family history of hair loss conditions. They may also ask about diet and additional factors.

A trichoscopy, during which a doctor will closely examine the eyebrow hair, helps diagnose alopecia areata and frontal fibrosing alopecia. The exact shape of the hairs can help a doctor determine whether a person has alopecia. In frontal fibrosing alopecia, there may also be white patches.

They may also use a blood test for T3 and T4 thyroid hormone levels, which will show any hormonal imbalances that could be causing eyebrow loss.

When to see a doctor

People may wish to see a doctor if they notice sudden or unexplained hair loss in their eyebrows or elsewhere on the body.

They can diagnose the cause of the hair loss, test for potential health conditions such as hormonal imbalances, and offer advice about the best treatments for hair regrowth.

Summary

There are many possible causes of eyebrow hair loss. It may be linked to hormonal imbalances, skin conditions, nutritional deficiencies, or medications.

Addressing the cause of the hair loss can, in many cases, allow a person to regrow the hair. Topical treatments and cosmetic procedures can also help restore hair growth.

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