Fatigue is a common symptom that can be transient or chronic. In medicine, we distinguish between normal fatigue, which disappears with rest, and pathological fatigue, which is a symptom or a disease in its own right. It is often associated with physical consequences, including hair loss. Let's explore if this is the case in this article.
Fatigue: A cause of hair loss?
Fatigue is a common symptom that can become abnormal when it persists despite sleep or rest. It can be temporary or reactive in connection with a chronic illness. Chronic fatigue is a common reason for medical consultation: between 10 and 25% of people would discuss it with their general practitioner. It is often associated with side effects such as hair loss.
Amongst hair, 90% are in the anagen phase and require essential elements such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals to effectively produce healthy hair. Often cited as a cause of hair loss, fatigue is more likely a sign of vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or a chronic illness which could be responsible for hair fall. Indeed, micronutrients are major components of the normal hair follicle cycle, playing a role in the cellular renewal of the matrix cells of the follicular bulb that divide rapidly.
Biotin: Chronic fatigue is a symptom of a biotin deficiency. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in the production of keratin, which is essential for healthy hair growth. A deficiency in biotin could lead to hair loss. Clinical studies have also shown an improvement in eight patients suffering from alopecia who took a biotin supplement.
Calcium : A deficiency in calcium can hinder the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Fatigue is often a symptom of a deficiency in this mineral. The daily intake of calcium plays a significant role in hair health and its continuous and healthy growth as it is an essential mineral for the proper functioning of the body. A deficiency in calcium can be caused by a deficiency in vitamin D. Mutations in the VDR gene (vitamin D receptors) in some patients resulted in total alopecia of the scalp.
Iron : The most common nutritional deficiency worldwide is iron deficiency. Clinical study results show a link between this iron deficiency and hair loss. However, the association of hair loss with a low serum ferritin level has been debated for many years because the mode of action of iron on the hair life cycle is not yet known.
Fatigue can also be linked to psychological events such as stress which disrupts the life cycle of the hair by hastening the transition to the telogen phase promoting hair loss. Keep in mind that generally, fatigue does not in itself cause hair loss. However, it can be a symptom of a micronutrient deficiency, a chronic illness or a psychological event which are themselves responsible for side effects such as hair loss.
ALMOHANNA H. M. & al. The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: A review. Dermatology and Therapy (2019).