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Does Prednisone Cause Hair Loss?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Sian Ferguson

Published 05/29/2021

Updated 04/30/2024

Prednisone is a versatile medication — but it has a few potential side effects. Does prednisone cause hair loss? It’s possible, though there’s not much evidence to confirm it.

You may have been prescribed prednisone for asthma, allergies or inflammatory conditions. For many people, prednisone is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to treating these medical issues.

But every silver lining has its cloud. And every medication has its side effects — prednisone included.

So, does prednisone make your hair fall out? And if so, why does prednisone cause hair loss?

While there are many well-documented side effects of the drug, little research examines whether prednisone hair loss is a thing. Let’s take a look at what we do know about corticosteroids and hair loss.

Prednisone is a type of steroid — not the kind that helps you bulk up your muscles but rather a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids are prescription medications used to treat inflammatory conditions.

Prednisone is prescribed for issues like:

  • Asthma

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and psoriasis

  • Cancers, including certain leukemias and lymphomas

  • Certain types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and gout

  • Certain blood disorders

  • Eczema and other skin conditions 

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) 

  • Joint pain and inflammation

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Severe allergies

Prednisone treats these conditions because it stops the immune system from causing inflammation (or swelling). Although inflammation can be a necessary immune system function, too much inflammation can be a problem.

It would appear to be a great medication if you’re suffering from any number of conditions — but what effect does it have on your hair? Can prednisone make your hair fall out, and if so, is prednisone hair loss permanent?

We’ll answer these questions, but let’s first go over prednisone’s known side effects and look at what the research says.

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When taking prednisone, there are some side effects to be aware of. 

The most common prednisone side effects include:

  • Appetite changes

  • Fluid retention

  • Headaches

  • Indigestion and nausea

  • Insomnia

  • Mood swings

  • Weakened immune system

  • Weight gain

Prednisone can also cause some serious but rare side effects, including high blood pressure. And it’s possible to be allergic to prednisone (which is ironic since it’s often used to treat allergic reactions).

But generally, adverse reactions are more common in people who take high doses of prednisone or use it for a long time.

Word to the wise: Always use prednisone exactly as prescribed, and don’t take an extra dosage. If you’re experiencing any side effects of prednisone, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice.

The short answer? Maybe. Here’s what we know.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) listings for certain formulations of prednisolone mention thinning scalp hair as one possible side effect. While scalp thinning isn’t a common side effect of prednisolone, it’s still a potential side effect — and one that you should be aware of.

You may have read a few blog posts or Reddit threads about prednisone and hair loss, but most of these are based on anecdotal evidence, not rigorous studies.

Hair loss isn’t listed as a side effect of prednisone by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The only mention of the word “hair” is a suggestion that the medication may cause “increased hair growth” (or hirsutism), which the FDA doesn’t note.

Who are we to believe? 

Well, the NLM website says the entry was updated in March 2020, and the FDA listing is from 2012.

So, time may have changed things — hair loss as a side effect might have been disproven. 

But perhaps both are more or less right. It’s possible hair loss is a rare side effect or a sign of overdose, which would technically be in a different category from side effects.

One thing’s for sure: There aren’t any rigorous studies proving a link between hair loss and prednisone.

Do Other Steroids Cause Hair Loss?

You might have heard that anabolic steroids cause hair loss. These meds are usually prescribed to treat hormone imbalances like low testosterone. They’re sometimes used by athletes, weightlifters and people with conditions that cause reduced muscle tissue to put on muscle mass.

Anabolic steroids are basically synthetic testosterone. Androgen hormones — particularly one called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — are associated with male pattern baldness. But there’s little evidence that steroids cause high levels of DHT.

So, if you’ve noticed increased hair fall-out or a thinning hairline after steroid use, it’s very possible another cause is at play.

Is Prednisone Hair Loss Permanent?

If you do happen to experience hair loss from a steroid like prednisone or another prescription drug you’re taking, it’s probably not permanent. Medication-related hair loss is usually telogen effluvium, a form of excess shedding that’s most often temporary.

When you stop taking the medication, it’ll most likely grow back. In the meantime, hair loss treatments might help — we’ll get into these below.

Learn more about temporary hair loss in our blog.

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In some situations, prednisone may actually be used as a treatment for hair loss

Studies like this one from 2009 cite intravenous (injected into a vein) prednisone use as a treatment for a type of hair loss called alopecia areata

A 2020 study notes that corticosteroids, including prednisone, might even be effective at treating alopecia areata in children.

Why would this treatment be good for hair loss? Well, because alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. With alopecia areata, your immune system attacks and damages your hair follicles, disrupting the hair growth cycle, often to the point of preventing hair growth.

Since corticosteroids are used to treat autoimmune conditions, it makes sense that prednisone could treat alopecia areata.

Learn more in our guide to corticosteroid injections for hair loss.

As mentioned, prednisone is actually an effective treatment for some kinds of hair loss.

But if you’re experiencing hair loss and think it may be due to prednisone, the first thing to do is contact your healthcare provider. They can investigate the cause of your hair loss and recommend whether or not to stop treatment. 

If the hair loss is noticeable, you might want to talk to your provider about potential treatments to return some luster to your hair. 

Effective, science-backed treatment options for hair loss include: 

Want to avoid thinning or dull hair? You could also try the following:

Remember, though, that hair loss could be a symptom of another health issue. So it’s a really good idea to speak with a healthcare professional if you notice thinning hair, bald patches or increased hair fall-out. 

Hair loss treatments, delivered

So, does prednisone cause hair loss? Probably not — at least, based on the current research.

The relationship between corticosteroids and hair loss is complicated, but here’s the TL;DR:

  • Prednisone hair loss isn’t a proven side effect. However, the FDA notes that some formulations of the medication may cause hair thinning. 

  • Prednisone can actually treat some forms of hair loss. Corticosteroids may be effective for treating alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that damages hair follicles.

  • You’re wise to chat with a medical professional. If you have noticeable hair loss — whether you think it’s caused by prednisone or something else — it’s always best to consult a professional.

If you’re concerned about hair thinning or balding, check out our guide to hair loss for more resources.

Need expert advice? Connect with a healthcare professional online through Hims. They can assess your hair loss and come up with a treatment plan.

14 Sources

  1. Rafi, A. W., & Katz, R. M. (2011). Pilot Study of 15 Patients Receiving a New Treatment Regimen for Androgenic Alopecia: The Effects of Atopy on AGA. ISRN dermatology, 2011, 241953.
  2. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug design, development and therapy, 13, 2777–2786. . Retrieved from
  3. Hair loss: Diagnosis and treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2021, from
  4. Do you have hair loss or hair shedding? (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from
  5. Burg, D., Yamamoto, M., Namekata, M., Haklani, J., Koike, K., & Halasz, M. (2017). Promotion of anagen, increased hair density and reduction of hair fall in a clinical setting following identification of FGF5-inhibiting compounds via a novel 2-stage process. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 10, 71–85.
  6. Hair loss types: Alopecia areata overview. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from
  7. HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION: Orapred ODT® (prednisolone sodium phosphate orally disintegrating tablets). (n.d.).
  8. Prednisone: Medlineplus drug information. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2021, from
  9. Efentaki, P., Altenburg, A., Haerting, J., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2009). Medium-dose prednisolone pulse therapy in alopecia areata. Dermato-endocrinology, 1(6), 310–313.
  10. Olsen, E. A., Carson, S. C., & Turney, E. A. (1992). Systemic steroids with or without 2% topical minoxidil in the treatment of alopecia areata. Archives of dermatology, 128(11), 1467–1473.
  11. Puckett Y, Gabbar A, Bokhari AA. Prednisone. [Updated 2021 Apr 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:
  12. Fernando T, Goldman, RD. (2020). Corticosteroids for alopecia areata in children. Canadian Family Physician July 2020, 66 (7) 499-501.
  13. Bond P, Smit DL, de Ronde W. (2022). Anabolic–androgenic steroids: How do they work and what are the risks? Frontiers in Endocrinology, Volume 13.
  14. Asghar, F., Shamim, N., Farooque, U., Sheikh, H., & Aqeel, R. (2020). Telogen Effluvium: A Review of the Literature. Cureus.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 





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