Doxycycline is an antibiotic that has been shown to reduce inflammation (even in the presence of DHT) and treat two major types of hair loss.
In this guide, I’ll introduce you to doxycycline. This will include a breakdown of the latest scientific research. In addition, you’ll learn what to expect during treatment, as well as natural methods you can use alongside it.
What is Doxycycline?
Doxycycline is an antibiotic within the tetracycline group, and it’s used for a variety of ailments.
As a broad-spectrum antibiotic, doxycycline is quite versatile in use. Some common uses include bacterial pneumonia, acne, chlamydia, syphilis, and early-stage Lyme disease.
What Types of Hair Loss Does Doxycycline Treat?
One of the lesser-known uses for doxycycline is the treatment of hair loss.
As there are a variety of hair loss types, so too are there a variety of mechanisms through which doxycycline works to treat them. Let’s take a closer look.
Scarring (Cicatricial) Alopecia
Scarring alopecia is, just as it sounds, a form of alopecia where hair loss is accompanied by scarring.
There are two forms of scarring alopecia:
- Primary. The inflammatory process involved specifically targets the hair follicle.
- Secondary. The inflammatory process involved is caused by an incidental occurrence (infections, burns, radiation, etc.) and just happens to result in damage to the hair follicle.
The cause for primary scarring alopecia varies depending on the inflammatory cells that are targeting the follicles; though, lymphocytes and neutrophils are the two most common inflammatory cells involved.
The treatment used for this form of alopecia will differ.
Where doxycycline typically comes in is when lymphocytes are causing the inflammation. In this case, doxycycline is typically prescribed as a prolonged treatment, while a topical or injectable corticosteroid may be used to kickstart the treatment.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA) is a specific form of scarring alopecia, but it’s one that may be particularly responsive to doxycycline treatment.
FFA is scarring alopecia that occurs predominantly in the frontotemporal region of the scalp. Eyebrow loss may also be present in those with FFA.
A study performed in 2010 followed 36 patients as they underwent treatment for the condition. Only four patients in the study were administered doxycycline treatment, but these were the results:
LPPAI stands for Lichen Planopilaris Activity Index, and it’s used to rate the severity of symptoms in individuals with Lichen Planopilaris (LPP) and FAA.
As pictured, patients 18, 20, 21, and 32 underwent doxycycline treatment, but only two (patients 18 and 20) saw favorable results.
For the other two patients, one did not respond at all (patient 21) and the other initially responded but results waned by the end of the study (patient 32).
Does this mean that doxycycline isn’t effective in treating FFA?
It can be, but not everyone will respond similarly to the treatment.
Androgenetic Alopecia – (Pattern Baldness)
The most common form of alopecia, Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA) is caused by a number of factors. However, the main factor is believed to be sensitivity to DHT.
DHT is a natural hormone that’s produced when 5-alpha-reductase (an enzyme) combines with testosterone. The DHT then attaches to androgen receptors at the hair follicle, and a process known as hair miniaturization takes place.
Now, the DHT itself doesn’t cause hair loss; it’s the inflammation which accompanies it.
In theory, no inflammation means no hair loss.
This is why dermatologists may recommend a course of doxycycline to AGA patients, even if it’s just to jump start the process.
Side Effects of Doxycycline Treatment
As with any medication – especially antibiotics – there can side effects.
The majority include digestive upset as antibiotics are known to kill the good bacteria lining your gut. Fortunately, a proactive course of probiotics can lessen the symptoms and restore your gut health.
In addition, you may experience sensitivity to sunlight (resulting in sunburn) and rash.
Another thing to keep in mind during treatment is that certain substances can reduce the effectiveness of doxycycline. These include:
- Calcium supplements
- Iron products
- Laxatives containing magnesium
If you’re pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, doxycycline should NOT be taken as it can affect bone development and growth. In addition, doxycycline DOES pass through breast milk, so it should not be used it you’re nursing.
Of course, speak with your doctor more fully about your questions and concerns. Only a medical professional can determine if this is the right course of treatment for you.
To be clear, I definitely do NOT recommend using doxycycline to treat pattern hair loss. You will be damaging your body in many more other ways, while only mildly (if at all) helping your hair.
Luckily, there are far more effective proven and natural methods that you can use to regrow your hair.
That’s what this website is all about.
In fact myself, and many other people have managed to completely stop our hair loss (even though doctors told us it was ‘genetics’ and inevitable to lose our hair.
Natural Alternatives to Doxycycline Treatment
Whether you’d like to go the all-natural route, or you’d like to combine the doxycycline treatment with other hair growth methods, take a look at the alternative options below.
1. Use All-Natural Shampoos
No matter the exact cause of your hair loss, an underlying issue is likely to be related to the general health and well being of your scalp and hair follicles.
Through the use of shop-bought shampoos, conditioners, and other hair products, you’re harming your scalp’s natural pH by adding chemicals and preservatives into the mix.
You can fix this, however, by making your own shampoos at home.
Here is one of my favorite shampoos. Not only does it work well to cleanse and soothe the scalp, but it’s also super simple.
- Liquid castile soap (1/2 cup)
- Maple syrup (2 tablespoons)
- Carrot seed essential oil (5-10 drops)
- Castor oil (10 drops)
Combine the above ingredients in the bottle of your choice and mix well. Pour over your wet hair, and lather. Massage the mixture into your scalp for 2-3 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
As mentioned above, you want to balance the scalp’s pH while also cleansing. The four ingredients included in this recipe do just that.
The liquid castile soap is used as a gentle cleanser, breaking down buildup. The carrot seed oil has antifungal properties while also stimulating the scalp. In addition, the maple syrup and castor oil both soothe the scalp.
2. Eat an Alkaline Diet
As I just discussed scalp pH above, I’d also like you to consider how your blood stream’s pH plays a role in scalp health.
In simplest terms, the foods you eat are either alkaline or acidic (some more than others). Enzymes, such as 5-alpha-reductase, function best in acidic environments. However, this can trigger further production of DHT which is not good for those with AGA.
To combat this issue, I recommend you eat a mostly alkaline diet.
This is a lot easier said than done, I know. However, it can make a huge difference in the health of your scalp and hair (not to mention, you’ll feel better, too!).
To start, I first recommend cutting down/out acidic food groups. These include:
- Fizzy beverages
- Sugary grains
- Red meat
Then, I recommend you start everyday with a morning smoothie. Here’s my go-to recipe:
- Mixed frozen berries (a cupful)
- 1 banana (the more ripe the sweeter)
- Hemp protein + pea protein (2 heaped tablespoons)
- Coconut oil (a heaped teaspoon chunk)
- Almond butter (a heaped teaspoon)
- Fo-ti (one powdered capsule)
- Niacin (one powdered capsule)
- Probiotic (one powdered capsule)
- Mixed essential oils (3 teaspoons)
- Green tea powder (half a teaspoon)
- Mixed greens powder (a tablespoon)
- Coconut water or almond milk (to desired consistency)
It’s a lot of ingredients, yes. However, it’s an overall alkaline blend that will give you a healthy start.
3. Reduce Stress
Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely avoid all external stressors. However, you can do a few things to lower their effect on you, and leave you in a healthier and happier state of mind.
Meditation & Guided Breathing
Both of these practices are closely linked, and both require awareness of the self and release of tension.
But the greatest thing?
Both practices can be performed anywhere, anytime.
To get started, here’s an abdominal breathing exercise I recommend to beginners:
Place one hand on your chest, and one on your abdomen. It’s easiest to do this while lying flat, but if not possible you can do it standing or sitting.
Take a deep breath through your nose, and feel your diaphragm (not your chest) fill to capacity. This means your stomach should fill and lift your hand slightly, but your chest should remain still.
The goal is to complete six to 10 deep breaths per minute in a ten minute period (so 60 to 100 breaths total).
Use this technique prior to a stressful task or event, or just as a relaxation method upon waking or before going to bed.
While using natural treatment methods to fight hair loss is an admirable goal, it may not always be possible when facing certain kinds of hair loss (such as scarring alopecia).
However, you can utilize natural methods alongside doxycycline treatment (under the guidance of your doctor) for improved results.