Reporting Paula Ebben
BOSTON (CBS) – For many women their hair is an important part of their identity so suffering unexpected hair loss can be devastating, especially when it is triggered by a common prescription medication. Some women even find themselves choosing their hair over their health.
Every day, wig store owner Flora Shepelsky sees how hair loss can destroy a woman’s self-esteem. “When they come in the first thing is tears. No one wants to come into a wig store,” she said.
One woman, who did not want to be identified, was in the shop looking for a wig to cover the hair weave that is no longer enough to hide her hair loss. She and several other women in the shop blame prescription drugs for their hair loss.
“I would have done anything to get my hair back,” she said. The woman even stopped taking her medication. “But then my health was suffering,” she said.
She was forced to go back on the drugs.
We’re not talking about powerful drugs like chemotherapy and other medications known to cause hair loss. These are common medications that millions of people take every for all kinds of health problems, drugs like antibiotics, antidepressants, blood pressure and cholesterol medications.
“There’s nothing that has no side effect,” one of the women in the wig shop said. “Everything that you take they can fix one thing and something else goes wrong.”
Mary Speciale says her hair began to fall out following hip surgery 18 months ago. “I took some of the medications post-operatively and no one told me that they could cause hair loss,” she said.
But doctors said they are not sure if it was the surgery or the medicine that caused the hair loss.
“We don’t know if it’s due to the surgery itself or due to medication she got for anesthesia. Sometimes they’re given medications during surgery, so it’s very difficult to pinpoint,” explained Dr. Richard Mizuguchi, the director of The Hair Loss and Restoration Institute.
Specialists said that they will work with primary care physicians to help change patients to medications that do not cause hair loss. They also explained that only a small portion of the population suffer from this type of hair loss.