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A Hair-Raising Experience

I have never had an easy time with my hair, but 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, for instance, 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.

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 hair stylist 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 hair dryer and/or 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 hood or 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 and comfortable and healthy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • mcadwell
    2 years ago

    Just about 10 minutes ago my son figured out an inexpensive way for me to use my hair dryer (cuz my shoulders no longer like me using it!)

    If you google “over cabinet door hook” you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

    I already had one of these hooks and he hung it over the top of my medicine cabinet door then hung my hair dryer on the hook part (the hair dryer came with an attached hanging loop)

    Yay, I can now just hang up the hair dryer (albeit, it’s upside down) and dry my hair!

  • Kcjen
    3 years ago

    Losing a LOT of my hair due to Methotrexate was a devastating development within 60 days of my RA diagnosis.. I could hardly believe that I was being victimized in yet another way by this disease. It’s been almost ten years, and I now wear a wig. It’s pretty, but it’s hot, nice ones are expensive, and it’s a hassle, but at least I kind of look like my former self. I’m not nearly as sensitive as I used to be. Now when people say “oh your hair is pretty. Is it yours?” I say “why yes it is.” and in my head I finish the sentence with “I paid for it!!” Strangely other women seem to be the most catty and ugly about hair loss and replacement. Most men don’t care or even notice. I know with all the other issues RA brings this may sound shallow, but for me this was incredibly hurtful!

  • Erin Rush moderator
    3 years ago

    I don’t think it’s shallow at all! Sometimes, it’s that one last straw that just breaks the camel’s back, if that makes sense. I am sorry you lost your hair, but I am glad you have hair to be proud of, even if it is hot and a hassle at times. Thank you for sharing with the community. We are glad to have you here! Best, Erin, Team Member.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 years ago

    I had the luxury of cutting mine off. Or as my wife says, I resigned from the hair movement. I do so understand what you saying. It is so tough especially for women, who we often place more emphasis on looks than personality and intelligence.

    By the way when we do that we miss the true beautiful essence of the person.

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