Anorexia Hair Growth: The Causes of Hair Loss and Treatment for Hair Re-Growth

Hair loss, hair thinning, brittle fingernails, and flaky skin are all common side effects of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Even though hair loss is not the most dangerous side effect of anorexia, the subsequent change in appearance and body image is often one of the most distressing outcomes for people with an eating disorder.

What Causes Hair Loss?

People with anorexia nervosa typically experience an obsessive desire to become thinner and lose weight. This preoccupation with extreme weight loss often leads to the development of one or more eating disorders, including severe caloric restriction, binge-eating and purging, excessive fasting, and acute over-exercising. In addition to physical side effects, people with anorexia can also experience debilitating emotional and cognitive side effects, including distorted body image, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and depression.

Unsurprisingly, living with an eating disorder can seriously disrupt your body’s essential and non-essential functions. In this case, people who’ve had anorexia for a long time will often show signs of general malnourishment, severe weight loss, and dangerous nutrient deficiencies. While in a state of depleted protein and nutrient conservation, your body will automatically neglect a wide range of non-essential bodily functions, including nail growth, skin repair, and hair growth, in order to maintain your body’s essential organ and tissue functions.

Hair loss due to anorexia first starts when your body is no longer able to efficiently produce keratin, a fibrous structural protein found in hair follicles. The rate of hair loss and hair regrowth in people with anorexia will depend on several different factors, including their level of malnourishment, age, gender, and genetic makeup. As a general rule of thumb, people who’ve suffered from anorexia usually experience a return to regular hair growth after six months of nutritional stabilization.

Treating Hair Loss for People with Anorexia

Hair loss among people with anorexia rarely occurs independently of other symptoms. Light-headedness, dehydration, chronic fatigue, and intolerance to cold are some of the more serious side effects of anorexia nervosa. If you know a family member or friend who is experiencing these symptoms in addition to hair loss, we implore you to reach out and express loving concern and non-judgemental support.

For more information about professional eating disorder treatment, we recommend getting in touch with the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), a non-profit organization dedicated to eating disorder prevention, treatment, and awareness. For urgent assistance, contact the emergency services or call the NEDA Helpline.

Sources: ED Catalogue, Psychology Today,The Guardian

Photo: Pexels

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