Background: Little is known about the prevalence, causes, and management of hair loss in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Despite the fact that there are relatively few case reports describing hair loss in IBD, anecdotally, it is a common clinical problem. Hair loss is associated with both acute and chronic illness, with nutritional deficiencies, and with adverse drug reactions, all of which are relevant to IBD.
Methods: A literature search was performed using PubMed from 1966 to July 2012 to identify all articles describing cases of and/or the cause of hair loss in patients with IBD.
Results: There is relatively little data describing the prevalence, cause, or course of hair loss in people with IBD. Because there are many potential reasons for hair loss in people with IBD, identifying the cause is not always possible. Telogen effluvium associated with acute or chronic flares of IBD is probably the commonest cause of disease-related hair loss, although the prevalence of this is unknown. Other causes include drug side effects and nutritional deficiencies. More recently shared genetic risk factors with alopecia areata and IBD have been identified.
Conclusions: The potential causes of hair loss in IBD are protean, although its prevalence is unknown. A practical guide to assessing and managing patients with hair loss in IBD is presented.