What Medications Cause Curly Hair? Understanding Hair Changes

Medically reviewed by Dr. Bilal Khan M.B.B.S.
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated

While genetics play a significant role in determining your hair's natural texture, certain medications can also cause changes in hair texture, including making it curly. In this article, we will explore what medications can cause curly hair, understand the reasons behind these changes, and provide tips on managing and caring for your curly hair.

What medications cause curly hair

Several medications have been reported to cause hair texture changes, including curliness. Some of these medications include:

  • Retinoids: Used in acne and wrinkle treatments, retinoids have been associated with causing hair to become curlier after two months to a year of use1.
  • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil): Although not listed in the prescribing information, some people have reported curling of hair when taking this medication2.
  • Other medications: Hair texture changes can also be caused by various medications, including contraceptives, antidepressants, and ibuprofen5.

Why do some medications cause curly hair?

Changes in hair texture can be attributed to medications affecting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or other factors that influence hair growth and development. However, the exact mechanisms through which medications cause curly hair remain unclear, and further research is needed to fully understand this phenomenon4.

Managing and caring for curly hair

If you notice that your hair has become curlier as a result of medication, there are several ways to manage and care for your new hair texture:

  • Choose the right shampoo and conditioner: Look for products specifically designed for curly hair, containing natural or essential oils like coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, and avocado oil10.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Steer clear of products containing sulfates, silicones, and parabens, which can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause dryness and frizz.
  • Use gentle styling techniques: Avoid using heat styling tools, as they can damage the hair and cause breakage. Instead, opt for gentle methods like air drying and using a wide-tooth comb to detangle your curls.
  • Moisturize: Keep your hair well-hydrated by using leave-in conditioners and deep conditioning treatments specifically designed for curly hair.
  • Trim regularly: Schedule regular trims to remove split ends and maintain healthy hair growth.

Consulting your doctor

If you notice significant changes in your hair texture, it is crucial to consult your doctor. They can determine if the change is a side effect of a medication you are taking, help you understand the potential reasons behind the change, and suggest possible solutions or alternative medications if necessary4.

In conclusion, while several medications can cause curly hair, it is essential to understand the potential reasons behind these changes and take the necessary steps to manage and care for your hair. If you believe that your hair texture change is a result of a medication you are taking, consult your doctor for guidance and support.

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Dr. Bilal Khan M.B.B.S. graduated from the Jinnah Sindh University in Karachi. He'll take the official medical licensing program in the US (USMLE) in September 2023. Bilal has a passion for research and has extensively fact-check and medically review articles under his name to make sure you have the most accurate information.