Can Food Allergies Cause Hair Loss?

Young woman with hair loss.

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Although food allergies are among the least common causes of hair loss, these conditions can lead to nutritional deficiencies that are associated with thinning hair. This can occur whether you are allergic to one or more types of food. People who have food allergies also have an increased predisposition to alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition characterized by patchy bald spots.

How Food Allergies and Hair Loss Are Connected

Food allergies are linked with hair loss for a number of reasons, although the association is not especially strong.

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 it 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 flares—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— 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.

Immune Response

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 also associated with a number of autoimmune diseases, including alopecia areata. With this condition, you may develop round or oval patches of hair loss anywhere on your body, though it most commonly affects the scalp. This is believed to be caused by inflammation of the hair follicles.

Considering Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is often mistaken for a food allergy because the two share similar symptoms, including stomach upset and skin rashes. Unlike food allergy, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. But it, too, 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, people who have an autoimmune disease like celiac are at an increased risk of having more than one autoimmune disease—including 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.

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. However, when hair loss is unexpected or occurs rapidly, it's best to be evaluated by your doctor.

A Word From Verywell

Male pattern baldness and a receding hairline are both fairly common, especially for men. Women can develop thinning hair, particularly in the premenopausal years. Whether you chalk your thinning hair or bald spots up to normal aging, a food allergy, or something else, it's best to mention it to your doctor. There are other possible causes, which should also be considered.

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Article Sources

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