Selenium Hair Loss: Does Selenium Cause Hair Loss?

“Everything in moderation” may be a tired phrase, but it has certain generational values that apply today. It’s never a good idea to have too much stress, drink too much alcohol or eat too much sugar. 

The same advice, unsurprisingly, applies to essential elements and supplements. 

A lot of things that are good for your body are bad in excess—even including water—and selenium is just one of them. 

But unlike some things (morphine) that might kill you when overdone, selenium can cause more subtle issues which may take time to show up. 

Whether you’re newly taking selenium and wondering about potential problems like selenium sulfide hair loss, or suspicious you might have overdone it already, read on for all you need to know.

What Is Selenium?

Selenium is a trace element you need, and is part of your essential functions. It plays an important role in reproduction, DNA synthesis and thyroid hormone metabolism, and it helps arm your body against oxidative damage and infection.

Your recommended intake of selenium, though, is pretty small. Adult men, for instance, should take around 55 mcg (micrograms) per day. 

For context, infants need about 15 mcg, and women who are pregnant or lactating need between 60 and 70 mcgs on average.

Selenium can be purchased as a supplement, but it’s typically found in foods with high protein content: meats, cereals, grains, eggs, poultry, fish and dairy products are all rich sources of selenium.

You can be deficient in selenium, too—which can make you vulnerable to certain diseases, and it can also affect your fertility, exacerbate iodine deficiency, and potentially play a role in osteoarthritis development. 

Selenium  is also thought to play a role in preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, thyroid issues and cognitive decline, so a deficiency isn’t your best bet. 

It’s an important trace element that you need for normal healthy function and longevity. Problems can arise, though, if you  consume too much, or take more than the recommended dose.

Dangers of Excess Selenium 

While a single daily overshoot of your recommended selenium levels probably won’t cause a lot of problems, chronically high levels can mess with your system.

According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, selenium overdose over time can cause issues and symptoms like bad breath, metallic taste in the mouth, nail brittleness, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, fatigue and irritability. 

You might also experience nervous system abnormalities, or issues like mottled teeth.

And then there’s the selenium and hair loss problem. 

Selenium and Hair Loss

Selenium can indeed cause hair loss and hair brittleness—two major issues for your mop.

According to a 2018 article, excessive selenium can actually both modify the hair’s structure as well as impair the hair cycle, causing a condition called telogen effluvium.

Telogen effluvium isn’t a complicated condition, but it requires some background to understand. Essentially, each hair on your head is currently in one of three phases associated with its growth cycle.

The primary phase is called the anagen phase, which is where 90 percent of your hair will be at any given time. 

This is when it’s growing and producing more length. After that comes the catagen phase, which is sort of a wind-down for each follicle. This lasts just a few weeks, before the telogen phase begins. 

The telogen phase is a sort of rest for your hair follicle; 10 percent of your follicles at any given time should be in this phase. 

Telogen effluvium is essentially a state in which more than the normal proportion of your hair is in the telogen phase, and won’t return to the anagen phase. 

Visually, it looks like even thinning across your entire scalp, making your hair look sparse. 

Telogen effluvium is  typically associated with stressors like weight gain, surgery, major stress or anxiety, or an overburdensome load of a trace element like selenium. 

The condition is also thought to be common for people recently experiencing high fever, or childbirth.

The great irony here is that selenium has been linked to decreased hair loss in chemotherapy patients. 

It has also been widely used in the form of selenium sulfide to treat scalp conditions like dandruff.

It’s official. Hims is a hit.

Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!  

Bryan, 28

Verified review

After 7 months, I have experienced incredible results and my hair is back.

Tony, 32

Verified review

Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.

Ryan, 29

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Parbhu, 28

Verified review

It has helped boost my confidence as well as give me a full head of hair to play with. I am so pleased.

Michael, 33

Verified review

I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!

Jesse, 36

Verified review

4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.

Giovanny, 23

Verified review

Hims allowed me to walk down the aisle confident and looking great.

Alexander, 32

Verified review

I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.

Brian, 48

Verified review

The results speak for themselves and I recommend it to all of my friends.

Al, 54

Verified review

I notice a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.

Seth, 27

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Milton, 36

Verified review

Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger.

Mike, 34

Verified review

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription-based products. Customers were compensated for their testimonials. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary.

Will Growth Return After Selenium and Hair Loss? 

The good news is that telogen effluvium is almost always a fully reversible condition. 

In most cases, after the trauma has passed from whatever brought on the hair loss, the hair will return within a few months as the cycles begin again for the affected follicles.

But there’s a caveat here—stronger cases of hair loss due to selenium exposure have been reported. 

In one case, a selenium alloy associated with copy machines was found to have caused more severe hair loss for a worker who constructed the machines for six months. 

The selenium exposure was likely high due to the machine worker’s profession, and the alloy was likely different from what you’d find in foods and supplements. (Note: the  full report was not available to us for this research).

There don’t seem to be similar cases reported, but if you work with copiers daily, an extra blood test to be on the safe side is never a bad idea. 

With this exception aside, selenium sulfide hair loss is likely to reverse course once you’ve lowered your selenium levels back to a safe quantity.

Treatment Options For Hair Loss

First, stop taking selenium immediately if you suspect you’ve run into the trap of excessive doses and resulting hair loss. Next, contact your healthcare provider for treatment advice.  

If you are indeed suffering from telogen effluvium, your hair will begin to grow back on its own, but you might consider speeding up the process with effective and proven hair loss treatment options. 

A few products that are effective at regrowing hair according to the American Academy of Dermatology, including minoxidil and finasteride.

Minoxidil is an effective medication for stimulating hair regrowth—studies have shown that it can increase thickness and raise hair count up to 18 percent over a 48 week period.

Likewise, finasteride is a hair growth medication which works as a hormone blocker that targets male pattern baldness-causing DHT. 

Finasteride can reduce DHT levels by as much as 70 percent when taken daily. That can slow or stop the progress of male pattern baldness

Talk to a healthcare professional to see if either might help you.

Shop by treatment options

No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.

No-pill option

Hair Hybrids by Hims

The Combination Hair Loss Spray

From £26/month

This spray treatment combines two active ingredients used for treating hair loss and hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

No-pill option

Hair Hybrids by Hims

The Combination Hair Loss Serum

From £26/month

This serum treatment combines two active ingredients used for treating hair loss and hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

Generic Treatment

Finasteride & Minoxidil Combo Kit

From £30/month

This combo kit includes two treatments. The once-daily tablet is clinically proven to stop hair loss. The alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

Generic Treatment


From £23/month

This once-daily tablet is clinically proven to stop hair loss.

Important Safety Information

Hair Hybrids by Hims

Alcohol-free Minoxidil Serum

From £21/month

This alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth

Important Safety Information

Selenium Sulfide Hair Loss Can Be Avoided

Selenium is a great example of the good-and-bad balance for everything out there in the world of supplements. 

Cancer-prevention benefits are great, hair loss and nail injuries not so much. 

The appropriate next step, as always, is to talk to a healthcare professional about something like selenium supplements before starting to take one. 

If you are indeed seeing signs of hair loss, consult a healthcare professional for that as well. 

They’ll be able to help you diagnose the problem (selenium-related or otherwise) and follow their recommendations. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

Hair loss treatment for a long term solution

Clinically approved options available

Thousands of happy customers

Get started