Why is My Hair Falling Out: 15 Reasons & Treatments
- Genetic conditions
- Hormonal changes
- Thyroid problems
- Telogen effluvium
- Anagen effluvium
- Traction alopecia
- Alopecia Areata
- Aggressive hairstyles
- Dramatic weight loss
- Other issues
- Treatment options
Losing your hair can be a stressful thing to experience. Not only can it ruin your confidence, but you might be worried there’s some serious health problem developing.
But hair loss is a perfectly normal thing we all face. It’s common to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands every day. Hair follows a strict growth cycle schedule, which sees follicles grow, shed, and lose hair constantly.
Problems arise if you start to lose more hair than you’re growing back. And over time, you might develop several obvious warning signs, like a bald spot on the crown or receding hair, that cause you to ask worrying questions.
Why is my hair falling out? Do I have a health problem? Is there anything I can do to stop it?
We’re here to help you find those answers. This article will explore the most common causes of hair loss that you might be experiencing. We’ll explain what their root cause is and highlight potential treatment options you might consider.
1. Androgenetic alopecia
Genetics can be one of the leading causes of hair loss worldwide, where certain genes predispose you to hair loss. If someone in your family has experienced hair loss, this increases your chances of developing a hereditary hair loss condition.
In men, the most common condition is androgenetic hair loss, also known as male pattern baldness. Early signs of this type of hair loss include thinning and fine hair, a receding hairline, and excessive hair loss.
In women, the condition is known as female pattern hair loss. Although not as severe as the male counterpart, this condition can still dramatically affect women, who will see an overall thinning of the hair, concentrating on the top and crown of the scalp.
While there is no cure for male pattern baldness, there are treatments available that can slow and stop its progression.
2. Hormonal Fluctuations
Hormones are incredibly important chemicals our body produces and uses to perform various functions. But as we grow older, certain life stages we reach can lead to hormonal imbalances.
These imbalances, especially when hormones like DHT are concerned, can lead to shrunken hair follicles, hair thinning, and premature hair loss.
So what triggers these types of hair loss? For women, giving birth, and taking birth control pills, as well as menopause, can alter hormones in the system. This often leads to developing conditions such as frontal fibrosing alopecia. For men, these changes can be triggered with age.
3. Thyroid Issues
Your thyroid is one of the most important glands in the body, responsible for producing hormones that regulate your heart rate and body temperature. If you suffer from thyroid disorders, this can result in hair loss.
Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid over-produces hormones, while hypothyroidism is when there’s too little. Both can trigger hair loss conditions and can be treated with medications. Once you regulate your hormone production again, your hair will begin to regrow.
Certain medications may list hair loss as a side effect of treatment. This kind of hair loss is often temporary, and once your course of treatment ends, your hair will gradually grow back.
Medications that often have this side effect include:
- Some oral contraceptives
- Thyroid-related medications
- Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
- Anticonvulsants (seizure medication)
That said, every patient experiences medication differently, and you are not guaranteed to lose hair in the same manner as someone else. If worried, consult with your doctor, as they may have an alternative recommendation that can help alleviate symptoms. Never stop taking the medication without their advice.
5. High Stress Levels
Stress is something we all experience at some point in our lives. But if you experience it for prolonged periods, stress can affect the quality and quantity of your hair.
It’s a vicious cycle – high stress levels can trigger hair loss, intensifying our original stress levels. But there are ways of breaking this cycle.
The following methods are a common way for many people to reduce stress levels and improve their lifestyle:
- Exercising each day, e.g., going for a short walk
- Practice mindfulness, including meditation and yoga
- Improve your diet by eating more vegetables and fruits
You should also try to avoid stressful situations whenever possible. Research has shown that 79% of people in the UK attributed high stress to the workplace.
Following this statistic, taking some personal time away from work can help alleviate stress levels.
If you cannot manage and reduce your stress and feel it is impacting your health and your hair, consult your doctor.
Lupus is an autoimmune condition that can cause joint pain, rashes, fatigue, and hair loss. Your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in your body, including hair follicles.
As such, lupus may trigger patchy hair loss and skin lesions to develop across your scalp. Certain medications used to treat the condition can also contribute to hair problems.
7. Nutrition Deficiencies
Like any other body part, your hair requires a certain level of nutrition to grow to its potential. If it lacks specific vitamins or minerals, then it will grow short and thin and may fall out earlier than expected.
Examine your diet and try to improve the quality of the food you are taking. Vitamins and nutrients to pay particular attention to include Vitamins A, B-12 (Cobalamin), B7 (Biotin), C, and D. You should also focus on healthy fats, copper, iron, zinc, and selenium.
If you are following a diet, consult with your doctor on possible deficiencies you might be experiencing. They may recommend specific foods and include vitamin and mineral supplements to improve your nutrition.
8. Telogen Effluvium
Your hair follows a strict hair growth cycle. Any disruption to it can cause significant complications, including sudden hair loss.
Telogen effluvium is defined as excessive hair shedding caused when unusually large amounts of hair in the third phase of the growth cycle. High-stress levels, certain medications, and thyroid issues can trigger the condition.
You may also experience telogen effluvium following major life events, like childbirth, surgery, or dramatic weight loss. Though excessive shedding can feel alarming, hair will begin to grow back once the triggering event has been overcome.
9. Anagen Effluvium
Anagen effluvium is a condition where sudden hair loss occurs because the anagen (or growth) phase is affected.
Hair does not grow as long as it should and sheds earlier than expected. Possible causes include chemotherapy, exposure to harsh chemicals and radiation, fungal infections, and autoimmune diseases.
Depending on its cause, treatment varies between patients, though most often, medication is prescribed to help stimulate and extend hair growth. If undergoing chemotherapy, devices such as cooling caps can help reduce hair loss.
10. Traction alopecia
Repetitive stress or tension on hair can cause a hair loss condition known as traction alopecia.
Hair strands are pulled to such a degree that they stop growing, shed earlier than expected, and can lead to patches of baldness across your scalp.
Tight hairstyles that pull on hair, including tight braids, ponytails, cornrows, weaves, and clip-in hair pieces, can all contribute to this condition.
Try to wear hair as loose as possible, and vary your styles often to reduce consistent pressure on the hair.
Additionally, traction alopecia can be caused by physically pulling out your hair. This can result from disorders like trichotillomania, which sees people pulling their hair out as a coping mechanism for stress.
Extreme hair pulling can disrupt healthy hair growth and lead to permanent hair loss. Seeking medical assistance to develop healthier coping strategies is highly advisable.
11. Alopecia Areata
As an autoimmune disease, alopecia areata causes your immune system to mistakenly attack hair follicles, causing sudden hair loss in the shape of circles.
This hair loss isn’t limited to the scalp and can take hold of eyebrows and eyelashes. Though there’s no cure, you must see your doctor as soon as possible to alleviate symptoms and limit further hair loss.
Certain medications can be instrumental in helping stimulate follicles to grow hair again.
12. Aggressive hair styling practices
Aggressive hair styling is sadly one of the most common and easily avoidable causes of hair loss.
Using devices and tools like curling irons, hair straighteners, or dryers can expose hair to extreme heat, weakening it and leading to hair thinning and early shedding.
Additionally, using products with harsh chemicals, including shampoos, conditioners, and hair dyes, can cause hair loss. Continued use will strip your hair of its natural defences, dry it out and weaken your hair follicles.
Finally, examine how you’re taking care of your hair. Extreme physical trauma can be inflicted when brushing hair aggressively, especially when wet. Instead, consider towel drying gently and only brushing hair when it has fully dried.
13. Dramatic weight loss
Any dramatic changes to your body, including weight loss, can have side effects and repercussions for your body. This is because often, during weight loss, people follow strict diets, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Additionally, the added stress of high-intensity physical exercise can increase sweating, leading to clogged hair follicles and increased hair shedding.
We often think that age only affects women’s hair. Menopause, for example, can cause significant hormone imbalances, leading to noticeable thinning and hair fall.
But men can also be a victim of age-related hair loss, developing thinner, weaker hair that sheds earlier than expected.
Unfortunately, you can do little to prevent or combat this type of hair loss. If you’re worried about hair loss as you grow older, you should visit your doctor as early as possible to start preventative treatments that maintain and preserve current hair.
15. Other Health Issues
Other health conditions contributing to hair loss include inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), diabetes, liver disease, or renal (kidney) failure.
Additionally, certain skin conditions can negatively affect your scalp, causing hair follicles to become clogged or damaged. These include infections like folliculitis or ringworm, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
What Treatments are Available?
Now that you’ve discovered the root cause of your thinning hair, you are undoubtedly curious about finding an effective hair loss treatment.
The first port of call for you to make is to visit your doctor. They will be able to examine your scalp and hair and offer a professional diagnosis of your sudden hair loss.
They will recommend an appropriate treatment, including medication, lifestyle changes, or therapies.
That said, one of the most effective treatments for anyone losing hair is hair transplantation. This highly-effective procedure provides a permanent solution to male pattern baldness. However, female hair transplants typically produce varying degrees of success.
A highly-experienced surgeon will transplant healthy hair from your head and implant them into thinning areas, creating a natural-looking, fuller appearance.
The surgery has become so advanced that it boasts one of the highest success rates of any hair treatment.
Some easy methods to help prevent further hair loss include:
● Avoid wearing tight hairstyles over prolonged periods (e.g., braids, cornrows)
● Avoid using heated styling tools (e.g., curling tongs, straighteners)
● Only use a soft hair brush. Use gentle strokes.
● Avoid harsh chemicals in treatments and hair dyes.
● Use shampoo and conditioners appropriate for your hair type.
● Use devices and therapies to stimulate hair growth, e.g., low-light therapy.
We stand to lose 50 to 100 hairs each day. If you notice more than this number, you could develop a hair loss condition.
Some of the most common reasons for this hair loss include stress, poor diet, or an underlying health condition.
Below are five ways to monitor the rate of hair loss you are experiencing and ultimately find out if it’s excessive.
1. You find more hair on your pillow in the morning than usual
2. Your scalp becomes more visible
3. Your hair part widens
4. You are losing more hair after washing or brushing it
5. You lose several strands simply by running your hand through your hair
So long as your hair follicle remains intact, it can grow new hair. But if it has closed, is damaged, shrinks, or is inactive for a considerable period, hair may be unable to grow.
That said, even with permanent hair loss, you may achieve a thicker-looking head of hair by using different treatments to enhance existing hair and hide excessive shedding.
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