Hair loss is a common side effect of Methotrexate and other cancer and chemotherapy medications. While hair does grow back after an individual stops taking the medication, the embarrassment and depression of hair loss can be hard to deal with. Fortunately, individuals can implement a few tips to reduce hair loss and stimulate new growth.
Uses for Methotrexate
Methotrexate, also known as Trexall, Folex PFS, Rheumatrex Dose Pack and Methotrexate Sodium, is a medication that is used to interfere with the growth of certain cells in the body. In particular it can be used to target bone marrow cells, skin cells and cancer cells. Methotrexate may be prescribed to individuals with certain types of skin, head, neck, lung or breast cancer, and it may also be used to treat severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis in smaller doses.
Moderate side effects include nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, headache, dizziness, fatigue, bleeding of the gums and blurred vision. More serious side effects that warrant medical attention are shortness of breath, dry cough, diarrhea, blood in urine or stools, decreased urination, fevers, chills, body aches and flu symptoms, sore throat and headache with a severe rash or blistering, pale skin and easy bleeding and bruising, and jaundice.
Kidney or liver function can also be impaired by the use of Methotrexate, so it's important to have them tested regularly.
According to Medicine World and BreastCancer.org, hair loss is also a common side effect of Methotrexate, though side effects vary from person to person.
Dealing with Hair Loss
Hair loss is an unfortunate side effect that often occurs as a result of using Methotrexate and other cancer-targeting drugs. Hair loss happens because the drugs target all rapidly dividing cells. Cancer cells divide rapidly, but so do healthy cells, such as hair follicles. You may lose some or even all of your hair, depending on how your body reacts to the medication.
Hair loss can be shocking, embarrassing and depressing. Seek out support from family and friends to help you cope with the loss of your hair. If you're uncomfortable with the loss of your hair, wear scarves, hats, shawls or even wigs when out in public. And try to stay positive, because when you stop taking Methotrexate, your hair will grow back.
Reversing Hair Loss
While taking Methotrexate, there isn't much you can do to prevent the loss of hair. Changing medications or adjusting the dosage should only be done under a doctor's supervision. If hair loss concerns you, talk with your physician before the problem occurs, so that you can both be prepared.
A healthy diet may help with hair loss, particularly if you eat plenty of protein and stock up on vitamin B, iron and magnesium. Select foods that are rich in protein and these vitamins and minerals, or take supplements to ensure that you are getting substantial amounts. While dietary changes may not be able to prevent hair loss entirely, they will help your hair grow back faster once you stop taking Methotrexate.
Oral medications and topical creams may be able to help stimulate the growth of new hair. Rogaine is a topical cream that is available for both men and women, and it is about 30 percent effective. Propecia is an oral medication that can stimulate hair growth, but you should be aware of its possible sexual side effects.