alopecia (drug induced)

Last reviewed 10/2018

Several drugs may cause a generalised hair loss of no obvious pattern. The condition is better tolerated if the patient is warned beforehand. A well made wig will often improve morale.

Common causes of iatrogenic alopecia include:

  • cytotoxics - cyclosphosphamide, mercaptopurine derivatives, colchicine, adriamycin
  • antithyroid drugs - carbimazole, thiouracil
  • anticoagulants - heparin, warfarin
  • antituberculous agents - ethionamide
  • excess vitamin A and synthetic retinoids
  • oral contraceptives

In the absence of a demonstrable cause, the condition is often labelled as "idiopathic diffuse hair loss."