What is biotin deficiency? How common is it? Does biotin deficiency cause hair loss and skin rash? Here is a guide on the symptoms of biotin deficiency in infants as well as adults. We will also explore the possible treatments for people suffering or showing symptoms of inadequate biotin in their bodies.
Although biotin deficiency is uncommon, it may occur in people who drink alcohol excessively or consume a great deal of raw egg white (which contains a protein that blocks the absorption of biotin). Genetic disorder of biotin deficiency, infant seborrheic dermatitis, and surgical removal of the stomach may also increase your need for biotin.
Biotin deficiency is mostly found in infants because they lack the intestinal bacteria that manufacture it naturally. The problem may also arise in those people who are taking anti-bacterial medication as these may kill biotin-producing bacteria in the intestines.
What is biotin deficiency? Biotin deficiency is a rare nutritional disorder caused by lack of water soluble vitamin B7, also known as biotin. It can be very serious or fatal if allowed to progress untreated. It is very uncommon to be deficient because the daily dietary requirement is very low and many foods provide adequate amounts of it.
However, studies show that consuming raw egg white for a long time can result in biotin deficiency. Raw egg white contains a protein called Avidin that binds strongly on biotin making its absorption poor. When cooked, Avidin is partially denatured and its binding properties are reduced. Biotin deficiency is rarely caused by malnutrition but may be caused by malabsorption disorders such as Coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease or Cystic fibrosis.
How Is Biotin Deficiency Test Done?
Biotin deficiency test is rarely needed as diagnosis is primarily based on clinical findings. Biotin can be found in blood and urine of healthy persons. The following tests can be carried out in case of uncertainty in clinical findings. Urine Ketone levels, Serum (blood) Ammonia Levels, and Quantitative Plasma Amino Acid levels.
Biotin Deficiency Face & Rash
What symptoms of biotin deficiency appear on the face? A person deficient of biotin may show some signs including a scaly red rash around the eyes, nose and mouth. This face rash is also termed “Biotin Deficient Facies”. Some people will experience irregular fat distribution around the face.
Biotin deficiency rash: The skin is usually the first to show when one is biotin deficient. Due to improper fat metabolism, one can develop acne, dry itchy skin, erythematous rash on the face and body.
Biotin Deficiency in Infants or Newborns
Biotinidase deficiency is a newborn inherited metabolic disorder of Biotin, which can be detected in newborn screening. Children born with this deficiency appear normal at birth. Symptoms may appear any time below 10 years of age. These include
- Skin rashes
- Breathing problems
- Delayed developmental milestones
- Hair loss or alopecia
Other uncommon signs include diarrhea and or vomiting, fungal infections and feeding problems.
Hair Loss & Thinning
Hair loss caused by biotin deficiency can be reversed. One of the most obvious symptoms of biotin deficiency is hair loss. This may progress from fine brittle hairs, thinning and eventually hair loss, which can lead to alopecia also called baldness.
Biotin deficiency disease: The disease is not common but can be found in infants, people who take large amounts of alcohol and those who eat raw eggs for a long period. Symptoms manifest generally on skin, hair, nails and weight loss due to an altered metabolic system.
Some authoritative health sources find some symptoms related to urinary excretion apart from the common symptoms on hair and skin. Medscape notes that its deficiency “may result in urinary excretion of organic acids and changes in skin and hair.”
Biotin Deficiency Treatment
There are very simple treatments for inadequate supply of biotin in the body. Some of these can be applied at home with dietary supplements and regimen. The specific treatment is sometimes done according to the symptoms. For example, people who are found to suffer from symptoms such as stunted hair growth or hair loss due to lack of enough biotin vitamins may have to include it in their diets as a form of treatment.
However, some of the treatments may require a doctor’s supervision, especially if the treatment is being administered to newborns. Care has to be taken when administering such treatments even though the medication for this deficiency is not necessarily prescribed (in adults with deficiency symptoms.)
Note that biotin from food sources is considered as a home remedy for problems, mostly beauty, including the following:
- Thinning hair
- Brittle nails
- Growing hair and nails long
- Dry skin
Studies have shown that biotin deficiency treatments in pregnant women can be done without fear of any side effects on the fetus. According to a study published on Thelancet.com about Prenatal Treatment of Biotin-Responsive Multiple Carboxylase Deficiency, “Growth and development of the baby have been normal to age 11/4 years on oral biotin… Prenatal treatment was effective in our patient, and there was no apparent toxicity to mother or baby from biotin supplementation during the last 16 weeks of pregnancy.”
Biotin can be found in small amounts in many foods. Ensuring that your diet includes legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables on a daily basis is the best easiest way to prevent Biotin deficiency. In newborns with Biotinidase deficiency, an intramuscular injection of 150 micrograms of biotin is enough to treat the deficiency. Symptoms should begin to resolve in 3-4 days.
Biotin treatment is recommended in people with biotin activity less than 10%. Oral treatment is also available and can help in both clinical symptoms and metabolic imbalances. Outcome of treatment depends on time of diagnosis.
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