There’s a lot of reasons you might lose your hair. And while you may not know exactly when it began to thin or when that bald spot began to grow, today you are reading this article because you know it is happening and want it to stop — ideally yesterday.
We are listening to you. And that’s why we’re putting together this simple list of common causes that could explain what’s going on and what the problem might be but first let’s talk about what we mean when we’re talking about hair loss.
Fact: you usually lose about 100 hairs from your head on any given day. In fact, this doesn’t affect your lock’s thickness because while some hairs grow at their own pace, others may shed.
The real problem — hair loss — occurs when this cycle of regeneration and replacement is disrupted or hair follicles are destroyed.
We wanted to clarify this because there is a difference between one morning noticing a couple of extra hairs on your pillow and seeing less hair on top of your head. If you’re in the latter group, continue reading to learn more about the causes of thinning hair (and stop stressing if you’re in the former group).
Most often, heredity or genetics are the primary reason for hair loss. So thank your mom and dad. Another thing that can also play a role is hormonal changes, use of certain drugs, or medical complications.
Let’s start with the big one: hereditary loss of hair. Genetics is the biggest factor in your susceptibility to androgenetic alopecia (also known as baldness of the male pattern), which is the most common form of hair loss. But know that these genes can actually come from both your paternal and maternal side before you play the blame game with Mom.
In fact, a recent study found that 287 genetic regions actually contribute to the baldness of the male pattern. So check your family history (it’s as easy as looking at a photo) to see if your family is experiencing hereditary hair loss.
In hair growth, male hormones also have a hand — or lack of it. For example, abnormal androgen levels (hormones that primarily affect male reproductive system development) may contribute to hair loss.
Medical conditions can very well cause hair loss. Commonly this is seen in conditions like, diabetes, iron deficiency, eating disorders, lupus, and thyroid problems. But there’s good news. If this is the cause for you, chances are that after your primary cause of your condition has been treated, the hair usually returns.
What we eat can also have an impact on hair health. For example, if you don’t eat many iron-rich foods, you may not get enough ferritin, a protein that plays a critical role in iron storage and has been shown to affect the ability of your body to make hair. Meanwhile, loss of weight and weight gain can also lead to temporary loss of hair.
In other words: consider this additional incentive to eat well and make decisions about smart foods.
Some medicines or medical treatments have side effects that interfere with the normal hair growth cycle, resulting in two hair loss types: anagen effluvium and telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium, the most common of the two, causes hair follicles to enter their phase of resting (telogen) and prematurely fall out.
Birth control pills, beta-adrenergic blockers for controling blood pressure, and blood thinners are drugs that can cause telogen effluvium. Anagen effluvium, which affects patients with cancer who take chemotherapy drugs, occurs during the anagen phase of the hair (a.k.a., active growth phase) and prevents the matrix cells that produce new hair from doing their job.
Alopecia areata is a common symptom of autoimmune diseases, which a condition of hair loss where a few circular patches of hair fall out.
Infections and skin conditions can also cause a number of hair losses on the scalp. Hair loss patches called “tinea capitis” can be caused by ringworm (a sort of fungal infection) develops on the scalp. Folliculitis (hair follicle inflammation) can occur if it’s severe enough which can cause permanent damage to hair follicles and leave small bald patches in its wake. Piedra (a fungal hair disease) deposits hard nodules on fibers of the hair, weakening them and making them susceptible to breakage.
Another hair loss guilty is injuries and burns. This is usually temporary, and normal hair growth will resume once the wound has healed. Scars and hair, however, don’t play: if a scar is produced, hair is usually never going to grow back there.
Hair care may also contribute to hair loss, although it appears to be counterintuitive. In fact, the fact that it has an official name is a common enough issue: traction alopecia. (Well, you didn’t know you’d pick up so many new medical terms today!) For example, if you’re using hot tools (think flat iron or blow dryers) to style your hair, you can make it weak over time. Similarly, some hairstyles, such as braids that are too tight and hair extensions, may cause enough tension that can lead to hair breakage.
Stress can also affect your hair’s health. After experiencing a significant emotional or physical shock or trauma, it is not uncommon for people to go through a (likely temporary) thinning of hair for several months.
This list is long (and certainly not exhaustive), so if it leaves you feeling a bit overwhelmed, we will get it. However, there’s good news: most of these issues cause only temporary hair loss, so once you address the underlying cause, you’ll probably see your hair return to its former (luxurious) condition.
And if you’re one of those people, like androgenic alopecia, experiencing permanent hair loss? Your hair story is not yet over, either— you just have to find the right solution to keep it going.
There’s Keeps coming in. We’re here to help you keep your hair and stop it by educating and treating your hairline. Today you can start your treatment path by checking out our offer and by reading the next article you can keep picking up knowledge: 10 Myths About Hair Loss It’s Time to Stop Believing.
The information provided in this article does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or therapy. For specific medical advice, you should not rely on the content provided in this article. Please talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.