Can Food Allergies Cause Your Hair Loss?

Young woman with hair loss.

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Hair loss is associated with food allergies, although food allergies are among the least common causes of hair loss. If you are allergic to one or more types of food, you may develop nutritional deficiencies that can lead to thinning hair. And people who have food allergies have an increased predisposition to alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition characterized by patchy bald spots.

Normal Hair Loss

It is normal for a person to lose 60 to 100 strands of hair a day, and most people may not even notice this amount of hair loss.

Male pattern baldness and a receding hairline are both fairly common, especially for men. Women can develop thinning hair, particularly in the premenopausal years. You might not be surprised when you experience these issues, especially if you have a family history of hair loss.

However, when hair loss is unexpected or occurs rapidly, it can be concerning.

Share any concerns about hair loss with your doctor to be certain of its cause and the appropriate treatment.

Food Allergies and Hair Loss

Food allergies are linked with hair loss for a number of reasons, although the association is not especially strong. So it is not a good idea to simply accept that your hair loss is caused by a food allergy. It is best to talk to your doctor about your thinning hair or bald spots because there is likely to be another cause besides your food allergy.

Nutritional Deficiency

If you are avoiding certain foods due to a food allergy, you may experience thinning hair due to nutritional deficiencies.

Milk is often fortified with vitamin D, so you can become deficient in vitamin D if you have a dairy allergy. And when you aren't sure what you are allergic to, you might cut down on several foods as a way to prevent your allergy flare ups—which can result in a number of nutritional deficiencies.

A lack of vitamin D, selenium, iron, niacin, zinc, fat, or protein can cause hair loss.

If you have food allergies, be sure to talk to your doctor about your recommended vitamin supplementation. But don't overcompensate by taking excessive vitamins because vitamin overdose can cause health problems, and may even lead to hair loss. For example, an excess of vitamin A or selenium may be associated with hair loss.

Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissue. Food allergies are not autoimmune diseases, but they are similarly characterized by a hyperactive immune response. Food allergies are associated with a number of autoimmune diseases, including alopecia areata.

If you have alopecia areata, you may develop round or oval patches of hair loss anywhere on your body, and it most commonly affects the scalp. This is believed to be caused by inflammation of the hair follicles.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is often mistaken for a food allergy because the symptoms are similar to those of a food allergy— including stomach upset and skin rashes. However, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, and it has been linked with hair loss.

Sometimes, people who have celiac disease experience nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption. And frequent stomach upsets can lead people with celiac disease to avoid eating foods that trigger an upset stomach—or to reduce food intake in general. Additionally, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease and people who have an autoimmune disease are at an increased risk of having more than one autoimmune disease—so you might have both celiac disease and alopecia areata.

To complicate matters even more, you may have celiac disease and food allergies, a combination that further increases the risk of hair loss.

A Word From Verywell

There are many types and causes of hair loss. While your hair loss might be associated with a food allergy, it might be caused by something else, such as a medical condition. Be sure to discuss your hair loss with your doctor. It is better to err on the side of caution.

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