STDs & Hair loss
Contracting a sexually transmitted disease is often a cause of shame, especially amongst young people. It’s not just about the infection itself, but also the fear of being ridiculed and ostracised by those around you as rumours begin to spread.
Having an STD, however, is a much more common occurrence than many people in the media seem to be believe. In 2018, Public Health England revealed that during the previous year, there were 140,000 individuals aged between 15 and 24 that contracted either gonorrhoea or chlamydia – that’s one diagnosis every four minutes.
Luckily, many of these diseases can be easily treated, with symptoms beginning to dissipate over time. Unfortunately, a large amount of those who have contracted an STD have also found themselves losing their hair as a result of their infection. But is there anything you can do to recover from hair loss due to STDs?
While infections such as HIV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and herpes have treatments that often cause temporary hair loss due to STDs, syphilis is capable of causing hair loss as a direct symptom. This normally occurs during the secondary stage of syphilis and can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin.
How do I know I am experiencing hair loss due to STDs?
While gonorrhoea and herpes are likely exhibit symptoms such as sores and fatigue, these infections are not known to directly cause hair loss. Chlamydia is another example of an STD that isn’t known to cause hair loss – however, a common treatment for chlamydia is the drug azithromycin, a macrolide antibiotic that works by killing the bacteria that cause the condition by depleting both your vitamin B and haemoglobin – occasionally leading to hair loss.
Many people who are living with HIV mistakenly believe that the virus is causing their hair loss. In reality, the lab tests have shown that it is more likely to be due to aging as HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was at the end of the 20th century.
Older HIV drugs were known to cause hair loss as a side-effect, but most modern treatments have very few adverse effects.
Of course, while many people who contract any of the above diseases may find themselves upset with their temporary hair loss, they should ensure that the aesthetics of their hair is a secondary concern to the treatment of the disease itself. Failure to treat these infections can, over time, become more serious and could ultimately cause a patient to become infertile along with numerous other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease.
What about the STD syphilis and hair loss?
Unlike other STDs, syphilis has been known to cause hair loss in patients. But how?
Syphilis is cause by the bacteria treponema pallidum and leads to the appearance of painless sores around the area of infection – usually in the groin, the rectum or mouth – and in the first of the four distinct stages of infection. This primary phase – if diagnosed quickly – can easily be prevented from progressing by using a short course of anti-biotics.
If these primary symptoms are missed, then the infection can progress into secondary syphilis which is likely to lead to more noticeable developments such as swollen lymph nodes, reddish brown rashes, fevers – and hair loss.
Can my syphilis hair loss be treated?
If an individual is diagnosed with secondary syphilis then treatment can be provided. And although hair loss may have occurred, it will grow back once your body’s immune system has returned to 100%. It is worth noting however, that in some cases hair will not begin to grow back until the patient has lost all of their previous hair.
Is there anything else I should be aware of regarding syphilis?
While both the primary and secondary stage of syphilis will see symptoms disappear on their own, the underlying condition can continue – and if left untreated to progress into the latent stage, during which the patient is no longer contagious, but can begin to affect the heart, brain, nervous system and bones, weakening them and occasionally pushing the individual into the tertiary stage – or neurosyphilis.
Luckily, not all patients – even without treatment – proceed into the final stage of neurosyphilis, but those who do will undoubtedly have found themselves ill enough to be formerly diagnosed.
Neurosyphilis can lead to issues with the limbic system and nervous system, causing involuntary muscle spasms that can have a huge negative effect on everyday activities. It is also likely to reduce the transition of electrical signals within the nervous system causing widespread numbness, and even blindness as the nerves behind the eyes begin to deteriorate. At this point, the affect on the nervous system can be so great that it interferes with brain function, often causing early onset dementia and often death.
So, what can I do to avoid hair loss due to STDs?
Knowing how to avoid STDs and putting it into practice appears to be a issue that affect numerous people – especially when alcohol and other mind-altering drugs are involved.
While transmission of STDs is more common amongst men who sleep with other men, it is still important for heterosexual couples to take STDs just as seriously. Luckily, the medical world has now advanced to the point where there is an option of using a pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment such as Truvada, which has successfully lowered HIV infection rates across both the US and the UK during trials.
Obviously, the easiest way to avoid infection is to abstain entirely from sex, a decision the majority of the public would rather avoid. It is therefore always recommended to use condoms, or other forms of contraception when engaging with a sexual partner.
If you are worried that you are suffering from hair loss due to an STD, the Hair Growth Studio are a hair clinic in Manchester that can provide you with support and advice. However, the diagnosis and treatment of an STD is a serious matter that must be handled by a doctor. If, once treatment has been successful, you wish to discuss the hair loss you may have encountered, please book a consultation with the Hair Growth Studio and enjoy personally-tailored advice from an expert.