What STDs Cause Hair Loss: The Impact of Sexual Health on Hair Growth

Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated

While many factors impact hair health, certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are known to potentially induce shedding and thinning. Prompt testing and treatment are important to rule out infections as reversible causes of unexpected hair concerns.

What STDs cause hair loss?

The two main STDs linked to hair fall are syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Less commonly, scalp involvement from herpes and hepatitis C infections may also trigger shedding.

Syphilis

This bacterial STI causes alopecia during its secondary stage between 3-6 months post infection. Diffuse hair loss emerges on the scalp, eyebrows and pubic area. Early penicillin therapy often restores full regrowth.

HIV/AIDS

The inflammatory nature of HIV can induce telogen effluvium. As it progresses to AIDS, patches of alopecia areata may appear on the scalp or nails take on a ridged "spooning" shape due to fungal infections like dermatophytosis.

Herpes

Rarely, localized lesions on the scalp from herpes virus types 1 or 2 may lead to scarring hair loss if severe. More often it presents as small bumps without permanent shedding.

Hepatitis C

Associated autoimmune reactions in some cases foster alopecia areata onset. Successful hepatitis C antiviral treatment usually halts further patch formation.

Additionally, the stress a new STI diagnosis inflicts has induced temporary telogenic shedding in some patients from hormonal shifts.

Evaluating for STDs as a cause

If hair loss coincides with risky behaviors or partners, speak to your doctor to help rule these infections in or out as a trigger through blood and panel tests.

Prompt STD screening and management helps curb further damage that may otherwise cause lasting hair thinning. Early diagnosis is important to contain the issue.

Other recommendations:

  • Practice safe sex to prevent future exposure
  • Inform partners of positive test results to allow their screening
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed by clinicians
  • Manage stress levels through activities that relax the mind and body

Once an STD cause is resolved through treatment adherence, hair usually reenters its natural growth cycle over several months with ongoing nourishment and scalp care.

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