|Thinning Eyebrows? Causes and Remedies|
|Written by Dr Jenny Schmidt-White|
It’s not only age that causes your eyebrows to thin.
Thinning eyebrows is a condition medically termed superciliary madarosis, derived from the Greek word madaros for “bald.” Loss of eyebrow hair can be distressing due to the cosmetic importance of eyebrows, and is a relatively common concern. Determining the cause of thinning eyebrows is integral to treatment as it can be a symptom of an underlying hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiency, allergy, autoimmune disorder or a response to medications. Thinning may appear on one eyebrow or both, in patches or uniformly.
Hypothyroidism may include the loss or thinning of the lateral third of the eyebrows, known as Queen Anne’s sign or the sign of Hertoghe. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, low mood, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, and feeling intolerant to cold. Screening for hypothyroidism includes symptom consideration and a blood test for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels. Naturopathic treatment includes nutritional and supplemental advice to support thyroid hormone production and often bio-identical hormone replacement. Nutrients that support thyroid hormone production include iodine, tyrosine, zinc and selenium, which are gained from a diet rich in seaweed, protein, nuts and seeds.
Deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamins A, E, D, iron, B vitamins and L-lysine may cause thinning eyebrows as well as thinning and weak hair. Fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and D all help to stimulate and support healthy hair growth and are found in spinach, carrots, bell peppers, kale, sunflower seeds, almonds, fish and eggs. Iron deficiency is diagnosed by measuring blood levels of ferritin and may be accompanied by frequent infections, brittle or spoon-shaped nails and decreased exercise ability. Sources of iron include meats, legumes, beans and whole grains. B vitamins are essential for metabolic functions in the body, and help the body cope with stress that can lead to hair loss. B vitamins are found in whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and legumes. L-lysine is an essential amino acid that appears to slow hair loss. Food sources include legumes, meat, fish, eggs, cheese and nuts. Therapeutic supplementation with the above vitamins requires consultation with a naturopathic doctor due to the potential for toxicity.
Atopic dermatitis, commonly referred to as eczema, can be found anywhere on the body, including on the skin underneath the eyebrows. It involves red, itchy patches that can become inflamed and lead to thinning hair over the patches. Eczema can be due to topical irritants or, more commonly, food sensitivities. Diagnosing food sensitivities and avoiding these foods often helps eliminate eczema. Temporary relief can be found through topical creams containing chickweed and marshmallow root.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the body mistakenly attacks its own hair follicles, causing patchy or extensive hair loss that can include eyebrow hair, but most commonly presents as scalp hair loss. Naturopathic treatments include acupuncture, topical treatments with essential oils of thyme, lavender and rosemary, and nutritional support including B vitamins, and Vitamin D.
Many drugs used in chemotherapy cause hair loss on the head, face and body, which usually occurs two to three weeks after starting the treatments and re-grows weeks or months after completion of treatment. Chemotherapy drugs that cause hair loss include adriamycin, carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, etoposide, ifosfamide, taxol and vincristene. Because the hair re-grows after the treatment is complete, it is usually not necessary to provide separate treatment for the hair loss.
Advancing age causes hair to thin in general. For women, aging means a drop in hormones like estrogen and an increased susceptibility to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) found in hair follicles, which shortens the hair growth cycle, resulting in thinner hair. Nutritional support to decrease inflammation and support healthy estrogen metabolism in the body supports normal hair cycles. Calcium-D-glucarate, sulforaphane (broccoli extract) and indole-3-carbinol are the main nutrients required for estrogen metabolism.
Determining the underlying cause of thinning eyebrows helps to target the treatment. Consult with your health provider to determine the best treatment approach for you.