FRENY MENEZES
By Freny Menezes

Pharm. D

23 September 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
ambien-cause-hair-loss
Table of Contents

If you or your dear ones have experienced hair loss, you would know how distressing this condition is. Even though it's not a life-threatening problem, it can harm your self-image and quality of life. Nearly 40% of men suffer from visible hair loss by age 35. This jumps to 65% by the age of 60. Hair loss may occur due to several reasons; hormone change, effects of aging, genetics, or due to side effects from medicines. So, you may wonder if you're taking any medications that cause hair loss.

Medications usually cause two types of hair loss, i.e., telogen effluvium (loss of already-grown hair) and anagen effluvium (loss of growing hair).

In most cases, hair loss caused by medication is temporary. And although rare, hair loss triggered by medicine can be permanent. 

Let us study the relation of hair loss with one of the sedative/hypnotic drugs, Ambien.

What Is Ambien?

Zolpidem is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic agent belonging to a new class of imidazopyridines. It has a rapid onset of action and minimal residual and rebound effects. It has weak myorelaxant, anticonvulsant, anxiolytic properties.

Zolpidem decreases sleep-onset latency, improves sleep quality, increases slow-wave sleep, and does not exhibit tolerance or rebound following five weeks of continuous use of recommended dosages. Zolpidem is currently the most successful sleeping pill used worldwide.

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How Does Ambien Work?

Ambien binds to the benzodiazepine site of α1 subunit-containing GABA A receptors, increasing the frequency of chloride channel opening and resulting in the inhibition of neuronal excitation. 

Possible Side effects of Ambien

Common Side Effects

Severe Side Effects

drowsiness

shortness of breath

weakness

chest pain

feeling tiredness

irregular pulse rate

confusion

light-headedness

Nausea

weakness

 

Can Ambien Cause Hair Loss?

The literature contains no evidence-based information regarding the relationship between Ambien and hair loss. Some users claim that while taking the medication, they experienced hair loss.

Several people who took Ambien over an extended period noted side effects like accelerated hair loss, hair thinning, irritated skin on the head, and itching.

It depends on how sensitive each individual is to the particular ingredients of the medication.
Considering that Ambien is a prescription drug, one should talk to a doctor about Zolpidem's side effects before taking it. 

The hair fall caused by the medicines can affect your self-esteem. These medicines cause hair fall by interfering with the regular cycle of scalp hair growth. Different drugs cause hair loss, including blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering drugs, beta-blockers, NSAIDs, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies, and steroids.
People who take anti-anxiety medications or medicines for mood stabilization and depression may experience hair fall. This includes sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine hydrochloride (Paxil), and more.
The drug-induced hair fall is usually reversible after discontinuation of the medicine. In rare cases, alopecia may be permanent.

Studies Related To Hair Loss Caused By Ambien

Hair loss is common in Zolpidem users, especially if they are female, older than 60, and have been taking the drug for 1–6 months.

The phase IV clinical study analyzes hair loss in people taking Ambien. It was developed by eHealthMe based on FDA reports of 74,804 persons who took Ambien and experienced side effects.

Among them, 871 people (1.16%) have hair loss. 169 people reported hair loss in 2019 after having Ambien.

Do Other Drugs Cause Hair Loss?

Numerous drugs might lead to hair loss. The hair may thin or fall out in clumps.
Telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium are the two kinds of hair loss associated with drug use.

In Telogen effluvium, hair comes out in clumps. It occurs within two to four months after beginning the drug.

In Anagen effluvium, hair comes out in small amounts all over your head. Hair loss is quicker and can result in complete hair loss in some people. It is temporary, and people taking chemotherapeutic agents often experience this. It is reversible upon discontinuing the drug.

Medications That Cause Hair Loss

  • Retinoids (Acne medications containing vitamin A): Retinoids treat a variety of skin disorders, including acne and skin discoloration. Oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin, cause telogen effluvium.
    Taking more than prescribed doses often results in hair loss. It may be reversible on discontinuing the treatment.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants can cause hair loss. E.g., Bupropion, fluoxetine, paroxetine, duloxetine, venlafaxine, and sertraline.
  • Anticoagulants: There were reports of hair loss with anticoagulants. Example: Heparin, Warfarin, Rivaroxaban
  • Beta-blockers: Beta blockers can cause telogen effluvium. Propranolol, Atenolol, Metoprolol, and Timolol eye drops are examples of beta blockers that may result in hair loss.
  • Anti-thyroid medications: Hair loss due to thyroid issues can occur on its own. Anti-thyroid drugs used to treat hyperthyroidism can also cause hair loss. For example- propylthiouracil and methimazole
  • Anticonvulsants: This was more frequent with valproic acid and pregabalin.
  • Chemotherapy: It often leads to the anagen effluvium type of hair loss. It begins a few days to a few weeks later. The effects of hair loss also become apparent after one to two months. Chemotherapy medications that cause hair loss include cyclophosphamide, tamoxifen, methotrexate, and doxorubicin. The hair usually grows back 1 to 3 months after completing chemotherapy.
  • (NSAID): The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Meloxicam (Mobic) can also result in hair loss.
  • Parkinson's disease drugs: It can cause anagen effluvium. The hair loss is temporary, and the hair will regrow after stopping the treatment. E.g., Levodopa, Bromocriptine
  • Biologic DMARDs: such as adalimumab and etanercept can also result in hair loss. Retinoids are used to treat a variety of skin disorders, including acne and skin discoloration. Some persons using oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin, have been reported to develop telogen effluvium. With increasing doses, this appears to occur more frequently. It may be reversible on discontinuing the treatment.

How Is Drug-induced Hair Loss Treated?

Evaluate your prescriptions and talk to your doctor about any possible adverse effects.
Stop the causative drug if it is possible to do so. After stopping the medicine, hair shedding stops; however it may take up to six months.

Cooling the patient's head to decrease the blood flow around the hair follicles is the most effective treatment for reducing hair loss due to chemotherapy.

Other drugs that slow hair loss and encourage growth include dutasteride, finasteride, or minoxidil. These are helpful when discontinuing the offending agent does not reduce hair thinning.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Many factors, including several drugs, can contribute to hair loss. Review your medication history thoroughly to know the likely cause of hair loss.

When you start Ambien, discuss the adverse effects of the medication with your healthcare professional. In case of unusual symptoms on taking Ambien, seek immediate medical care.

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