Do eating disorders cause hair loss?

Do eating disorders cause hair loss?

An eating disorder is a serious mental disorder. Eating and associated behavioral patterns are changed in each type of eating disorder. Most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and few more. They can cause serious health complications. Furthermore, one of the common symptoms is hair loss. Read this article better to understand each aspect of eating disorder hair loss. 

Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are complex physical and mental illnesses that adversely affect the person’s life. Furthermore, Healthy associations with diet, physical workout, and body structure are also affected by eating disorders. Moreover, affected persons get involved in unhealthy eating behaviors. Some persons do overeating, while some restrict their food intake by overestimating their body weight. Additionally, trauma and emotional instability can also result in this condition.

Furthermore, age is not specified for the persons to get affected with eating disorders. Usually, teenagers suffer from eating disorder hair loss.  If eating disorders are left untreated, then they can cause severe problems in the body. However, if treated with care, affected persons can easily recover.

Hairs: Vital body structure

Hairs are important body structures that play a significant role in human life. They not only enhance your personality but also provide you with protection. Additionally, hairs are also effective in the regulation of body temperature. So, just like other body organs, your hair also needs absolute nutrition to stay healthy and consistently long.

Additionally, the hair growth cycle gets disturbed in different eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia, and binge eating disorder. Among different symptoms, eating disorder hair loss is the most common. Experiencing hair loss is extremely disturbing as it not only affects your mood but also negatively transforms your personality. Therefore, the person feels less confident and starts feeling stressed or anxious.

Types of Eating Disorders
There are different types of eating disorders, which are as follows:

Anorexia Nervosa

Mostly, young females suffer from anorexia nervosa and get obsessed over their weight. Moreover, the ratio of anorexia nervosa in females is comparatively greater than in males. Furthermore, they don’t consider their weight normal and stop eating. Therefore, their body weight starts decreasing to a greater extent, and they move towards eating disorder hair loss.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Major symptoms of Anorexia nervosa include:

  • Sudden fear of gaining weight
  • Reduced eating patterns
  • Sudden drop in weight despite being underweight
  • Starvation and excessive exercise

Anorexia Nervosa and Hair loss

If the anorexic girl only relies on a low-calorie diet, then it affects the different organs and body structures, including hair. Moreover, in the absence of essential nutrients, hair follicles lose their strength and become weak and brittle. The starvation period ultimately leads to hair thinning and eating disorder hair loss. 

Anorexia and the Immune System

Anorexia nervosa can also affect the immune system, which can directly cause hair loss. Furthermore, restricted food alters the function of the body’s immune cells. Additionally, autoimmune cells attack the hair follicles, which results in various severe conditions, including male pattern baldness, alopecia areata, and general alopecia.

Symptoms of Anorexic Hair loss

The first noticeable symptom that occurs in hair loss is the thinning of hair. Visible hairlines develop on the head of anorexic patients. In severe cases, eating disorder hair loss also occurs on the eyelashes in females.

Lanugo hair in Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa can also change the normal hair patterns. Therefore, extra fine and soft hairs develop all over the body and face. This condition is termed as Lanugo. The pattern of frizzy and downy hairs can also develop during the pregnancy and can affect the developing fetus.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is also a serious eating disorder that involves secret binging and overeating beyond the fullness. Excessive overeating can lead to vomiting, which can result in dehydration and loss of essential nutrients. Furthermore, the binging cycle occurs at multiple times of day. This condition can result in being overweight and eating disorder hair loss.

Symptoms of bulimia Nervosa

Following are the few common symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa:

  • Excessive fasting
  • Weight above the normal range
  • Repeated eating patterns
  • Misuse of laxatives
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Lack of body energy

Bulimia Nervosa and Hair Loss

Likewise, Bulimia nervosa can also cause eating disorder hair loss. Bulimia affects the body’s integumentary system, which comprises the dermis, epidermis, associated glands, hairs, skin, and nails. Moreover, the elevated rate of purging episodes can result in dehydration. Additionally, severe water deficiency can affect the hair cells, which ultimately leads to hair loss. Along with hair, dehydration can also affect the nails and skin. In most people, hair loss does not occur during the bulimia nervosa. However, hair loss starts after their recovery.

Anagen and Hair loss

Anagen is the active phase of hair growth and development. Dehydration automatically inhibits this phase and the development of new hairs. This causes the frequent hair shedding that causes the hair loss.

Common signs of Eating Disorder Hair Loss

If we talk about the hairs, then major symptoms that appear due to eating disorders are as follows:

  • Excessive hair in the drain after a shower
  • Thin patches on different sections of the hair
  • Seeing more hairs in the brush
  • More often, the breaking of hairs
  • Bald patches

What causes Hair Loss due to Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders cause several undesired changes in the body, which cause hair loss.

Deficiency of Hair Protein

The important structural and functional protein that is present in the hairs is keratin. If the hairs are protein deficient, they start damaging and affect overall hair growth.

Telogen effluvium

It’s not compulsory that a deficiency in a complete diet can only cause eating disorder hair loss. In most cases, a restricted diet can do the same. This condition is known as the telogen effluvium. Due to the absence of some essential nutrients, hair shedding can occur. The body considers this situation as a shock. Moreover, this condition usually occurs after three to four months of abnormal eating patterns. Furthermore, persistent shock situations can induce hair loss.

Nutrient Deficiency

Different types of nutrients contribute to various important body functions. Specific phobia, panic disorders, adjustment disorders, mood disorders, and bipolar disorders can also be caused by nutrient deficiency.

Iron Deficiency and Hair loss

Iron is involved in the formation of red blood cells that transport the oxygen. Deficiency of iron can cause anemia, which involves disrupted hair growth. Ultimately, iron deficiency can cause eating disorder hair loss.

Vitamin D and Hair Loss

Vitamin D is essential in regulating the immune system. However, Vitamin D deficiency can cause several autoimmune diseases, such as alopecia areata. Furthermore, this condition involves the formation of circular patches on the scalp and associated baldness. In the same way, vitamin D participates in the development of hair follicles. A deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to stunted hair growth and eating disorder hair loss.

The deficiency of some essential nutrients that can cause hair loss includes:

  • Vitamin A, E, D, B3
  • Zinc
  • Biotin
  • Folic Acid
  • Fatty Acids
  • Selenium
  • Proteins
  • Biotin

Poor Blood Circulation

Every organ of your body requires an effective supply of oxygen to perform its function. However, eating disorders can affect them and cause serious complications. The heart is the major pumping organ that transports blood in different body parts. Furthermore, eating disorders weaken the heart muscles and affect the pumping ability. This ultimately leads to poor blood circulation to the hair follicles. Due to a deficiency of adequate nutrients and oxygen, hairs become brittle and thin and start shedding. This condition can also cause the abnormal growth of new hairs. Ultimately, you will experience the eating disorder hair loss.

Switching to the Body’s Survival Mode

When the person does not take the vital nutrients, then the body turns to survival mode. This phase only prioritizes the essential body functions. All the accessory structures get deactivated to some extent. Hairs are also accessory structures, so in case of nutrient deficiency, their growth process is restricted, which then initiates the eating disorder hair loss. 

Hormonal Issues

Abnormal functioning of several hormones can also cause hair loss. Due to the influence of underactive thyroid glands, sufficient thyroid hormones are not produced. This condition is known as hyperthyroidism, which can cause hair loss, especially in the alopecia areata.

A deficiency of insulin hormones and the release of various stress hormones can also cause hair shedding and eating disorder hair loss. 

Treatment of Eating Disorders and Hair loss

Eating disorder hair loss recovery is quite easy. You just have to follow a few basic principles to live a healthy life without experiencing any eating disorder or hair loss.

Effective Nutrition

The best possible way to treat eating disorder hair loss is proper nutrition. Intake of all required nutrients will bring back healthy, shiny, and thick hairs.

Treatment of Anorexia

If you want to recover from Anorexia Nervosa, you should follow some basic rules such as:

  • Stop counting the calories and use the high-calorie diet
  • Remove your weight gain fears
  • Break your food rules

Medical Care

Severe cases of anorexia require immediate medical care. If the patient cannot take the food through the mouth, then the nasogastric tube is used. This tube is placed in the nose and transfers the food from the nose to the stomach. So medical care is extremely significant in treating eating disorder hair loss.

Treatment of Bulimia Nervosa

Various studies have reported that approximately 50% of patients can easily recover from bulimia nervosa. However, 30% exhibit partial recovery, while 20% continue to show the disease symptoms including eating disorder hair loss.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

A specialized type of antidepressant used to treat the Bulimia nervosa.Furthermore, it helps in the regulating the frequency of overeating. However, the long-term effects of this antidepressant are not known.


For less severe conditions, medications are not suggested. However, as this condition is linked to mental health, antidepressants can work.


To suppress the eating disorder hair loss, you can take various organic supplements. A variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat are the best sources of multiple supplements. By regular intake of supplements, you can enjoy shiny and healthy hair.

Avoid Crash Diet

It is better to avoid the crash diet for better hair growth. A crash diet is used to achieve a goal regarding body weight. Crash diets usually involve low-calorie diets or detox diets.


Psychotherapy is also the best way to treat eating disorder hair loss. You can choose any type of therapy based on your preferences.

Individual Therapy

In this therapy, professionals guide accurate eating patterns and behaviors to prevent weight loss. In addition, patients can learn the strategies to avoid the reduced eating mode.

Family Based Therapy

Teenagers suffering from anorexia can not make the best decision to choose the food, So in family-based therapy, parents can communicate with their children and can guide them regarding the food selection.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) 

This therapy is specifically involved in multiple diagnoses and can effectively treat various eating disorder hair loss. With the help of this therapy, emotions, and stress management are easy.

PRP therapy

This is a three-step medical treatment that promotes the effective development of hair. First, the blood is drawn, processed, and then injected back into the scalp. PRP injections are considered the best in stimulating hair growth. Additionally, they transfer various growth-promoting factors to the scalp, including tissue regenerators and anti-inflammatory components.

Talk with Professionals

If you are unaware of what to do to avoid eating disorder hair loss, you can consult professional diet experts. Moreover, you can also share your current health issues with them to find the best solution. After getting the proper knowledge, you will be able to make some healthy habits to improve your health.

Lifestyle Changes

Other than medications and treatment, certain lifestyle changes can also treat eating disorders and hair loss.

Extracurricular Activities

Meditation or different physical workouts are extremely good for the sound body and health. Moreover, make a regular workout schedule and stay away from eating disorder hair loss. 

Avoid Stress

Anxiety and depression release various stress hormones in the body, including cortisol. Stress hormones have a direct link with the thinning of the hair and eating disorder hair loss. So it is necessary to avoid stress and remain happy to enjoy long and healthy hair.

Use of Organic Hair Products

Different synthetic products have various dangerous chemicals. So, if you want to keep your hair shiny, avoid using different hair styling products. Protect your hair from straighteners, curling roads, and blow-dry machines. Moreover, instead of exposing your hair to intense heat, use organic hair products. You can also use the special hair serums to protect your hair and continue its proper growth and development.

Oiling and Massaging

If you feel that your hair is dry and getting weak, then you should massage your hair with organic oils. Furthermore, massage promotes better blood flow to the hair cells and tissues, which promotes the best hair growth. You can use olive oil, almond oil, coconut, jojoba argon oil, etc to prevent the eating disorder hair loss.

Adequate Sleep

Getting sufficient sleep is very important for your body and even your hair. Sleep deprivation is simply a form of stress. Moreover, Make sure to sleep for six to seven hours to make your hair healthy and prevent eating disorder and hair loss.

Last Thoughts

Eating disorders can adversely affect the body. Anorexia Nervosa and bulimia nervosa can harm your both physical and physiological body condition. They have a strong relationship with hair loss. Furthermore, these dating disorders can lead to nutrient deficiency, poor blood circulation, and hormonal imbalances. All these undesired changes can cause eating disorder hair loss.  However, by adopting a healthy lifestyle condition, you can treat eating disorder and hair loss. If you are suffering from any eating disorder or hair loss, then get the best assistance from Renewed Mental Health group experts. So stay healthy with the perfect hair glam.

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Brittlin Fagundes

Associate Marriage and Family Therapist

Brittlin Fagundes is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at Renewed Mental Health Group. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University. Brittlin then returned to her hometown of San Diego, California, where she received her Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling from Point Loma Nazarene University.

In her spare time, Brittlin enjoys being outdoors, spending time with her family and friends, playing and watching sports, and listening to music. Brittlin finds these activities very therapeutic, as they allow her to clear her mind and reflect and provide her pure happiness. Brittlin works with her clients to find their hobbies and interests, which can be great coping and grounding skills for needy individuals.

Brittlin has experience with various ages and populations- children, adolescents, adults and elderly, groups, LGBTQ+ individuals and families of all different socioeconomic statuses. In addition, Brittlin has worked with various diagnoses such as anxiety, depression, addiction, Bipolar Disorder, schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Brittlin takes pride in her ability to have a personable relationship with her clients, as she finds it vital for them to feel comfortable in her presence.

Brittlin understands that everyone carries a unique story with extraordinary hardships and stressors. She is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment where her clients can overcome obstacles and work toward positive change. Brittlin believes therapy should be a collaborative process that fosters personal growth and healing. Overall, Brittlin strives to use various therapeutic techniques to empower her clients to overcome their obstacles, working towards self- discovery.

Carissa Mendez-Munder

Associate Clinical Social Worker

Carissa Mendez-Munder is a Mental Health Therapist at Renewed mental Health group. Carissa is a Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Carissa graduated with her master’s in clinical social work from Baylor University.

Carissa’s education and work experience have allowed her to work with a diverse clientele ranging from 4 to 100 years old and across all economic and cultural backgrounds. Carissa has offered individual, group, and family counseling in both English and Spanish for these diverse caseloads. Carissa has provided counseling, emotional and communication skills groups, and grief and anger management groups at the elementary, middle, and high school ages. Carissa works most commonly with diagnoses of Anxiety, Depression, Anger management, life-stage struggles, adjustment disorders, ADHD, family conflict (including non-traditional family arrangements, LGBTQIA+ youth), prolonged grief, and PTSD.

Carissa’s experience has given her more perspective on how external influences, systems, and traumatic experiences in a person’s life can affect their overall health and well-being. Carissa works with her clients using a strengths-based perspective and person-centered approaches to counseling to sharpen tools, skills, and any other client strengths. Carissa works to create a “toolkit” with her clients to better work with these external influences. Carissa believes that every person can change and has the tools to do so. Her role as a therapist is to draw attention to these tools and strengths and help the client find their motivations. Carissa believes in a person’s inherent worth and dignity and their right to live a fulfilling life. Carissa takes pride in seeing her clients achieve their therapy goals and grow their confidence and self-determination. Carissa offers a safe space for her clients for in-person or telehealth sessions and is currently accepting new patients.

Taryn A. Joyce


Taryn is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner with 6+ years of experience in mental health care. Taryn earned her Masters’ of Science in Nursing degree from California State University, Long Beach. Taryn specializes in ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression/mood disorders, schizophrenia, PTSD, and personality disorders. Taryn utilizes a patient-centered approach emphasizing collaboration and empowerment, ensuring each individual receives personalized care tailored to their unique needs.

Taryn has years of experience in inpatient and outpatient mental health settings, most recently in the community mental health setting, serving clients from various backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, genders, and socioeconomic statuses. As a committed advocate, Taryn brings a blend of expertise in psychiatric nursing, evidence-based interventions, and a compassionate approach to foster positive outcomes. Taryn looks forward to partnering with you on your journey to mental wellness.

Alice Kim


Alice Kim is a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Alice has many years of experience in psychiatry in acute inpatient and outpatient settings.

She believes that mental health is essential but is often a forgotten or invisible part of healthcare.She wants to be an advocate and caregiver for the vulnerable population in a compassionate, empathetic, and nonjudgmental approach.

Alice has made it her life’s passion to utilize her skills to help others aware of their illness and offer patients and their families quality care, support, and guidance during a time of difficulty.

Alice Kim 은 이사회 인증을 받은 정신과 정신 건강 간호사 실무자입니다.

앨리스는 급성기 입원환자 및 외래에서 수년간 정신과에서 근무한 경험이 있다.

그녀는 정신 건강은 필수적이지만, 종종 의료에서 잊혀지거나 보이지 않는 부분이라고 믿는다. 그녀는 연민적이고, 공감적이며, 비판적이지 않은 접근으로 취약한 사람들을 옹호하고 돌보는 사람이 되기를 원한다. Alice는 자신의 기술을 활용하여 다른 사람들이 자신의 질병을 인지하도록 돕고, 환자와 가족의 간병, 지원 및 어려운 시기에 안내를 제공하는 것을 자신의 삶의 열정으로 삼았습니다.

Alice는 2개 국어를 구사하며 한국어에 능통하기 때문에 한국어로 말하는 환자에게 도움이 될 수 있는데, 이는 혼란을 없애고 환자 만족을 제공하며 양질의 의료 서비스를 제공하는 데 도움이 되기 때문입니다.

Cristian Cuevas


Cristian Cuevas, PMHNP-BC, is a highly skilled board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with over seven years of experience in inpatient psychiatry and mental health.

A California State University Long Beach graduate, Cristian also earned recognition as a board-certified psychiatric mental health registered nurse. With a wealth of expertise in adult psychiatric care across the lifespan, Cristian has successfully diagnosed and treated a diverse range of mental health disorders.

Additionally, his specialized experience in child and adolescent inpatient populations further enhances his ability to provide comprehensive and compassionate mental health care.