A Hair-Raising Experience

Last updated: March 2022

I have never had an easy time with my hair, but rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has made it even more of a challenge.

From the time I was a little girl, I have had to contend with fine, thin, very straight, wispy hair. I have done long, short and in-between lengths and, to this day, have not ever been entirely satisfied with whatever style I happen to have.

I know I am not alone in this regard but, oh how I envy those who have hair that is manageable and styled in an attractive way!

How RA treatment affects hair health

Since having RA, taking care of my hair has taken on new meaning as the difficulty with my hair became even more pronounced. That may sound strange, but let me explain.

Certain medications like methotrexate can cause hair loss. How discouraging to not only be in pain but have to deal with hair falling out along with the other dire effects of RA!

The use of other medications, like prednisone or other corticosteroids, can cause hair to be brittle and to break or split at the ends. RA in general, as a chronic disease, can make our skin and hair dry and dull.

4 hair care tips for RA

Folic acid

So what to do? Well to counter the hair loss, folic acid supplements are recommended and they have worked for me for over 15 years. That is not the case for everyone and so for those for whom this does not work, talking with your physician about other medication options may be the solution.

Regular haircuts and good product

As to the brittleness, I discovered that frequent haircuts helped with this. I get my hair cut at least monthly and that helps to keep it healthy. In that same vein, I tend to keep my hair fairly short as it is easier to keep it healthy and when there is less hair to deal with. 

The dullness and dryness can be countered to some extent with good hair products. I really rely on my hairstylist for this. She is well aware of the medications I take and has offered invaluable advice as to care and products for my hair. If you like hair color, and I am a big fan, making sure to use one that is not too harsh is another important tip.

Low to medium settings for hair tools

Being careful with hair tools is important as well. If you use a hairdryer, curling iron, or flatiron, keeping the temperature at a low to medium setting will reduce that breakage that we often have to contend with thanks to RA. 

My stylist recommended a hot air curling brush, combining the curling and drying into one operation, thus reducing the damaging effects of using both a dryer and a curling tool.

Protect hair from the weather

When out in the sun or wind, protecting your hair, especially if you color it, is very important. I wear a hat in the summer on the beach and a hood or a winter hat in the winter. What was news to me was that the wind and dryness of winter can be just as bad for your hair as the sun in the summer.

If we are careful and treat our hair with the same care as the rest of our bodies, we can enjoy styling our hair in a way that will keep us feeling confident, comfortable, and healthy.

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