Hair grows in almost every part of our skin except on the eyelids, lips, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Healthy hair helps boost your confidence, regulate body temperature, detoxify your body, and protect against bacteria, pathogens, dehydration, and other great functions. While hair is important to our overall health and well-being, many take it for granted until they lose it.
Most people have about 150,000 hairs on their heads and lose almost 100 hairs per day, while new ones regrow from the same follicles. While losing a few strands of hair a day is normal, losing several hundred or even thousands of hairs is cause for alarm. There are many reasons your hair could fall out in clumps leading to noticeably thinning hair or baldness.
Your dermatologist can help diagnose your condition to find the root cause of your hair loss and prescribe the best treatment. Click here to learn more about hair loss prevention for different causes. In this post, we’ll look at some of the most common factors that could contribute to losing your hair at a faster rate:
1. Family History
Hereditary hair loss is inarguably the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. Also known as androgenic alopecia, hereditary hair loss happens slowly and in predictable patterns. In men, this condition is known as male pattern hair loss, and it occurs as bald spots at the top of the head and a receding hairline. The female pattern hair loss appears as thinning hair along the scalp’s crown.
Genetic hair loss means that you’ve inherited genes that make your hair follicles shrink and quit growing. This hair loss condition typically occurs in your late 20s or early 30s, but you can also start experiencing it as early as your teenage years. While hereditary hair loss affects about 50% of adults, any treatment options can help stop or slow hair loss.
2. Thyroid Problems
You can also experience hair loss if your thyroid gland isn’t working correctly. The thyroid gland produces hormones that your body uses to generate energy, keep muscles and organs working properly, and regulate other bodily functions, such as hair growth. Common thyroid problems that could lead to hair loss include hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid and hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. An overactive or underactive thyroid can cause hair loss due to hormonal imbalances.
Visiting your endocrinologist to get tested and prescribed proper treatment for your thyroid problem can help get hormones under control, helping you recover your lost hair. However, it can take some time before your new hair starts to grow.
3. Hormonal Changes
Apart from thyroid problems, you may experience hormonal changes due to childbirth or pregnancy, causing temporary or even permanent hair loss. Hair loss caused by pregnancy usually occurs about three to four months after delivery. The increase of estrogen hormones during pregnancy prevents your hair from falling out. But after delivery, your hormones rebalance to ideal levels, causing your hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle.
That’s because the delayed normal hair loss during pregnancy causes your hair to fall out in clumps. As your hair follicles regenerate after delivery, you start losing hair much faster. Hair loss due to pregnancy is usually temporary; your hair regrows back several months later. You can reduce hair loss after delivery by consulting your physician to ensure your hormones are balanced.
4. Birth Control Pills
Women taking birth control pills can experience excessive hair shedding, especially if the pills have a high androgen index. This especially happens in those sensitive to the hormones found in birth control pills. Hair loss can occur while using the pills or several months or weeks after you stop taking them. If your family has a history of baldness, taking birth control pills can accelerate your hair loss.
During the active phase of hair growth, your hair grows from its follicles for about two to seven years. After the active phase, your hair stops growing for nearly ten to twenty days during the resting phase. Once this phase ends, you start shedding up to 100 hairs daily for the next 100 days. Taking birth pills interrupts the normal hair growth cycle, causing your hair to transition from the active to the resting phase earlier and for a more extended period.
This causes your hair to fall out excessively, known as telogen effluvium. Other birth control methods that can cause hair loss include skin patches and implants. You can prevent hair shedding while taking birth control pills by choosing ones with a low androgen index.
5. Nutritional Deficiencies
Numerous studies show nutritional deficiency to cause excessive hair shedding. Consuming diets too low in protein and vitamins can make your hair fall out. The deficiency of certain vitamins like iron can cause your hair not to grow, leading to progressively thinner hair. That’s because iron stimulates the production of hemoglobin that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles.
Without sufficient iron, your hair may thin or stop growing and even cause your eyelashes and eyebrow to shed due to damaged hair follicles. Other nutrient deficiencies that can make your hair fall out are zinc, selenium, essential fatty acids, niacin, biotin, amino acids, and protein deficiencies.
You can prevent further hair loss or restore normal air growth by getting tested for vitamin deficiency and recommended the best treatment by your doctor. Treatment options can include nutritional supplements, dietary changes, and other forms of treatment.
6. Age-Related Hair Loss
The hair life cycle becomes shortened as you age. Shorter, thinner hair falls out and is replaced with new, finer hair. Over time, hair growth slows, and your follicles stop growing new hair entirely, resulting in hair loss or thinning. Eventually, the thinner hair fibers shed, and they never regenerate again.
While age-related hair loss cannot be stopped, there are ways that you can slow down the natural changes. If hereditary causes don’t accompany your age-related hair loss, you can potentially prevent it from occurring. Visiting your dermatologist can help you determine the cause of your problem and offer tips on how to slow or stop your hair loss.
7. Alopecia Areata
Medical conditions can also contribute to excessive hair shedding. These conditions include Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disease whereby your immune system attacks your hair follicles. This condition can make you shed hair from different parts of your body, including eyelashes, eyebrows, head, and any other parts with hair.
While there isn’t any cure for Alopecia Areata, there are treatment options you can use to boost your immune system and help regrow your hair. These include certain anti-inflammatory drugs and medications that can speed up the process of hair growth. However, these medications can only help accelerate hair growth but can’t stop new bald patches from forming on your body.
8. Hairstyles and Treatments
Wearing tightly pulled hairstyles can make your hair shed, a condition medically known as traction alopecia. Hairstyles that pull your hair tight include cornrows, pigtails, braids, and ponytails. Wearing tight headwear over a long period can also contribute to falling out of hair. That’s because pulling your hair back tightly causes strain on the follicles and could damage them, making your hair strands pull out easily.
Apart from tight hairstyles, using permanents and hot-oil hair treatments on your hair can also cause your hair to fall out. Applying chemical treatments and hair relaxers changes the hair shafts’ structure, making your hair brittle and easy to break off. You can prevent this form of hair loss by avoiding using chemical treatments and not wearing tight hairstyles. However, if scarring occurs and hair follicles become damaged, it can cause permanent hair loss.
Fungal infection is another common factor that could contribute to hair loss. A fungal infection like ringworm on your scalp, also known as tinea capitis, can lead to temporary baldness on your head. This baldness starts as a small pimple that grows and expands over time, creating scaly, bald patches on the scalp. The bald patches form when the fungus penetrates the hair follicles of the affected part, causing the hairs to become brittle and easy to break off.
Fortunately, baldness due to ringworm is treatable. Your doctor can prescribe various anti-fungal medicines or an antibiotic. Applying anti-fungal creams to the affected areas cannot eliminate baldness since it doesn’t get deep enough to treat the condition effectively.
10. Anagen Effluvium
Another major cause of hair loss is anagen effluvium. This condition occurs while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, which causes your hair to fall out rapidly in large amounts. Apart from radiation and chemotherapy treatments, other things that could cause anagen effluvium include autoimmune diseases and fungal infections. Not only does this condition lead to hair shedding from your head but also your other body parts, including eyelashes and eyebrows.
If chemotherapy is the cause of the problem, cooling the scalp while undergoing the procedure can help reduce the effects. Your hair regrows about six months or less after quitting chemotherapy. Your doctor can recommend the best medication to help your hair grow faster, like a topical minoxidil solution.
Many factors can contribute to hair loss, from stressors and hormonal imbalances to health problems and poor nutrition. If you’re experiencing baldness or thinning hair, knowing the cause of the problem can help you determine the best treatment. While hair loss caused by genetics, medical conditions, and ageing cannot be prevented, using the proper medications and treatments can help reduce further hair loss and promote faster hair growth.
Some forms of hair loss can be prevented by eating healthy diets with the right nutrients and avoiding tight hairstyles and caustic chemicals. But, it’s always best to see your dermatologist and get tested and recommend the best treatment for your specific hair loss condition.