Looking after your hair with joint pain can be tricky.

An even bigger hair styling obstacle can be hair loss.

It's a rare but troubling chronic disease side-effect, that is not spoken about often but can cause significant distress. 

Let's start with the cause of autoimmune disease related hair loss.

Hair loss can be an unfortunate side-effect of both autoimmune diseases as well as it's treatments.

Drugs commonly prescribed for chronic disease, such as Methotrexate, Leflunomide, or Arava, etanercept (Enbrel) or adalimumab (Humira) have potential hair loss side effects. 

It's important to speak with your rheumatologist about the side-effects of drugs prescribed to you.

Although hair loss from these medications is usually not drastic and can grow back after the medication is stopped, those with male or female pattern baldness may experience accelerated and permanent hair loss. 

Rheumatologists recommend staying on these drugs for as long as they are working to relieve your symptoms. If you are experiencing hair loss, it’s your decision on whether the positives outweigh the negatives. 

So, if you are experiencing hair loss, what can you do?

1. Healthy diet

Protein, vitamin B, iron, magnesium and folic acid are all recommended to keep your hair healthy. 

So enjoy foods rich in protein and these vitamins and minerals as the first line of defense to keep your hair healthy. No time to meal-prep this much? Maybe take a supplement.

A healthy diet won't stop medication-related hair loss, but it will aid your hair with stronger and faster regrowth as well as keeping your existing hair healthy.

2. Switch up hair products or get a hair cut

The first sign of hair loss is usually hair breakage or shedding when you brush or wash your hair. It can be alarming, but the good news is that for most people it does not get worse than this.

You may find that switching up shampoo and conditioner helps, or you may want to get a shorter hair cut. 

Your hairdresser should be able to give you advice on specialist products and suitable hairstyles.

3. Root touch-ups to fill sparse areas

For those of us with minor patches of hair loss, or looking for a thicker hair appearance, filling in your roots with a colored product is a great option. 

This is an old makeup artist trick, to make hair appear thicker and fuller.

Check out these YouTube tutorials on how to do it.

Again, your hairdresser will be able to advise.

4. Hair wraps, hats and wigs

If you find that you are losing hair to the point where you have thinning patches, you may want to look at hair wraps and wigs.

Hair wraps and wigs are fun, easy ways to protect your hair. Hair wraps are very affordable and come in a range of colors and prints. 

Wigs are more of an investment. It is a myth that wigs increase hair loss. As long as you have a good-fitting wig, follow the correct care instructions and take care of your own hair, you should not have additional hair loss caused by your wig. 

If in doubt, visit a specialist wig shop who can help you or check out the many tutorials on YouTube.