Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss: Causes, Effects, Treatment

Iron Deficiency Hair Loss

Are you experiencing a lot of hair loss along with hair thinning? If you don’t have any underlying medical condition, you might wonder what’s causing the hair loss. Though there might be various reasons behind why you are losing hair, most often, it is related to your nutrition intake.

What is Iron Deficiency?

Iron deficiency is one of the pervasive disorders caused by poor nutrition in women[1]. Factors like gastrointestinal disorders, pregnancy, and menstrual blood loss leads to low levels of iron in the body[2]. When the haemoglobin level in the body goes below 10 mg/dL, it causes an iron deficiency condition called anaemia [3]. Iron deficiency-induced anaemia occurs when the body cannot utilize iron effectively or doesn’t have the desired iron levels. It is one of the primary reasons causing excessive hair loss among women. By following a proper diet with iron-rich foods and prescribed iron supplements, it is possible to reverse iron deficiency-induced hair loss[4].

Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss

Iron deficiency-induced anemia is the most prevalent form of blood disorders affecting millions of people every year[5]. The condition happens due to the inability of the body to produce the required level of RBCs or red blood cells. These RBCs have an iron-rich protein called haemoglobin, which carries oxygen all over the body, including the hair roots. Maintaining the right level of RBC count is essential to keep healthy hair and skin. So, when you have a low RBC count, it can gradually lead to hair loss.

A study held in 2013 states that the deficiency of iron had a vital role in inducing early-stage female pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia. One more study confirmed that low levels of iron in women without any underlying medical condition caused diffuse telogen hair loss[7]. There is a relationship between low levels of iron and hair loss. Iron helps maintain the hair follicle’s health.

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    Diagnosis and Evaluation

    Diagnosis Evaluation Iron Deficiency
    Diagnosing iron deficiency is easy, as one needs to take a few tests to know iron levels.

    Haemoglobin Concentration Test

    The haemoglobin concentration test helps determine the levels of haemoglobin in the body. If this test shows a low level of haemoglobin, then it indicates you have anaemia. If it is higher than usual, it can cause a blood disorder called polycythemia vera.

    Serum Ferritin Concentration Test

    This test determines the level of iron deficiency in the body. Sometimes, the levels of serum ferritin might be higher among people having certain infections or inflammatory conditions[8].

    Other Tests

    To rule out the above said doubts, it is essential to take a few tests. The tests are transferrin saturation & concentration, erythrocyte zinc protoporphyrin concentration, and serum iron concentration to rule out iron deficiency[9].

    Ideal Level to Beat Iron Deficiency for Hair Growth

    The ideal range of serum ferritin levels ranges between 10 and 120 ng/ml for females in the age range of 18 years to 39 years[10]. For women who are above 40 years, it is essential to maintain an iron level range of 12 to 263 ng/ml. If the serum ferritin level is below 30 ng/ml or equal, it will lead to severe hair loss and even early-stage female pattern baldness[11].

    Treating Iron Deficiency-Related Hair Loss

    If you have iron deficiency, it’s time to consult the dermatologist for further treatment to correct the hair loss and maintain iron levels. The treatment module for iron deficiency and hair loss might include a combination of one or more treatments.

    Platelet-rich Plasma or PRP Treatment

    This PRP treatment is one of the most effective methods for inducing hair regrowth[12]. This non-invasive procedure is an ideal treatment method to correct hair loss among men and women. During this procedure, a few ml of blood is extracted from the body to generate protein-loaded plasma with the help of a centrifugal process. This plasma is injected with fine needles in the scalp’s top layer facing severe hair loss.

    As the plasma is loaded with platelets, it provides much-needed nutrition to the hair follicles. This treatment is suitable for treating iron deficiency in hair follicles, as it restores it in bald patches. After attending a few sessions of PRP treatment, you will see visible hair growth at the site with a uniform pattern. As this treatment has no severe side effects, it is an excellent choice for hair loss caused by iron deficiency.

    Biotin Treatment

    This hair loss treatment is practical for people dealing with damaged and dry hair issues. Biotin, a type of vitamin B, is known for its water solubility nature[13]. A biotin solution will be injected into the hair shaft to strengthen it and enhance overall health. Usually, the dermatologist will prescribe iron supplements and biotin treatment for rectifying iron deficiency, correct hair loss, and induce hair regrowth.

    Invasive Procedures

    If you are facing early-stage female pattern baldness or extreme hair loss, then it is essential to choose a surgical approach, as suggested by the dermatologist. Hair transplant surgeries like Follicular Unit Extraction, FUE, and strip harvesting will help regain those lost strands. These procedures are performed by removing the hair follicles from a donor site on your head and placed on the bald spots.

    Iron Supplements

    It is essential to correct iron deficiency, which is why the doctor will suggest iron supplements that replenish body’s lost iron. Based on the level of haemoglobin, the doctor might prescribe supplements with folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

    Hair Regrowth Medications

    Sometimes the doctor would also suggest to use a combination of hair regrowth medicines along with hair treatments and supplements. FDA-approved products like Rogaine or topical minoxidil[14] or Propecia[15] or oral finasteride will be prescribed for improving hair regrowth and reducing hair loss progression.

    Lifestyle Factors and Prevention

    Apart from getting a hair regrowth treatment to rectify the effect of iron deficiency, you can also prevent it from developing. Make subtle changes to the lifestyle and diet by following these tips.

    • Consume a balanced diet with iron-rich foods like nuts, seeds, pulses, red meat, oysters, legumes, citrus fruits, and leafy vegetables
    • Do not use chemical-based hair styling products to prevent hair damage
    • Exercise regularly to oxygenate blood regularly, as it helps improve hair regrowth by improving haemoglobin levels
    • Take supplements regularly to correct anaemia. Avoid self-medication
    • Avoid tea and coffee, as it can hinder the body’s iron absorption ability
    • Eat soaked raisins every day to prevent anaemia
    • Drink more water to avoid dehydration
    • Do not use heat-based tools like hair straighteners and hair dryers to prevent hair loss

    Wrapping Up

    Iron is a significant mineral contributing to hair growth. This mineral circulates oxygen to the hair follicles to kindle hair growth. Signs like swollen tongue, fatigue, brittle nails, headaches, hair loss, and weakness indicate that the body doesn’t have enough iron. If you are experiencing severe hair loss, visit specialists at Kolors Healthcare. The doctor will suggest the required tests for identifying the cause to prescribe the right treatment combination. Say goodbye to iron deficiency by eating iron-rich foods, taking supplements, and exercising daily. Even though hair loss can be worrying, if iron deficiency is the culprit, stay assured it is easily treatable.


    1. Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand –
    2. Department of Dermatology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA –
    3. –
    4. –
    5. Official journal of ASH –
    6. Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea –
    7. Department of Dermatology, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Razi Hospital, Tehran, Iran –
    8. Central Laboratory, Departments of Clinical Chemistry and Hematology, University Hospital of Turku, Turku, Finland –
    9. Department of Dermatology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA –
    10. Health Encyclopedia –
    11. Department of Dermatology, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Razi Hospital, Tehran, Iran. –
    12. Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto School of Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada –
    13. Genetics Division, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, and Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Hollywood, Florida –
    14. Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Hollywood, Florida –
    15. Patrick C. Walsh M.D. –


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