6 Simple Reasons Why You Are Losing Hair
You walk into the shower one day as normal and start washing your hair. You soap it up as usual and start rinsing it out. You look down and take a step back, startled. There is a huge clump of hair clogging up the drain. How did that get there?
You think to yourself, “Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Maybe that hair was there yesterday and I just didn’t notice. Maybe it’s been accumulating for a while.”
So you clean out the drain and move on with your day. The next day you get in the shower and wash your hair. To your horror, you pull another huge clump of hair out. What’s going on? Are you suddenly going bald? Why are you losing so much hair?
Losing hair without knowing why is a pretty disturbing experience. Oftentimes it isn’t as dramatic as the scenario I described above—maybe you just notice one day your hair seems a bit thinner than it used to be, and your comb has more hair stuck in it than usual. Sometimes it is dramatic, though, and you lose a lot of hair all at once.
Either way, it can leave you feeling panicked and searching for answers.
But you shouldn’t panic. Hair loss is common, and it isn’t always permanent. There are a lot of simple, innocuous explanations for why it might be happening to you.
On average, each of us loses around 100 hairs a day. Sometimes you just underestimate the amount of hair that you usually lose.
If you do think you are losing more hair than usual, here are 6 possible explanations. Most of these should set your mind at ease.
1. Your hair isn’t falling out; it’s just damaged
Here is one easy mistake to make. Finding a lot of extra hair in your comb each day? Try taking a close look at the ends of your hair. Do they look thin and kind of wispy and uneven? And if you squint really close, do you notice what looks like tiny white dots along the strands everywhere?
Those are the markers of damaged hair which is prone to breakage and already suffering from it. Oftentimes we shed extra hair in the form of broken strands, but we aren’t actually losing hair at the scalp. If this is the case, you can quit worrying and start using a moisturizing agent like coconut oil or castor oil. Hair oils like these will strengthen your hair against future breakage!
2. You just experienced a recent trauma
We have all heard that stress can cause hair loss; in reality, the two have a complicated relationship. You are not going to lose hair over that recent squabble with your boyfriend or your mother-in-law’s impending visit—that is a myth. But certain acute stressors can make your hair fall out.
For example, did you recently have surgery? What about a severe accident? Maybe you came down with a harsh fever. Or maybe you have experienced a devastating loss—a job or a loved one. These sorts of shocks can lead to a condition called Telogen effluvium, or “TE.” Once the stressor goes away, your hair should start growing back right away. Usually you will achieve a full head of hair again within nine months.
3. You have ringworm or another scalp infection
Is your head itching a lot? You could have ringworm, eczema, dermatitis, folliculitis, or another infection which is causing your hair to fall out. Many of these infections can be chronic, recurring problems, and you may need to switch to a special shampoo and take additional measures to treat them on an ongoing basis.
The good news is that these conditions are treatable. With diligence and the right products and habits, you should start seeing results.
4. Your efforts to treat hair loss are causing hair loss
Here is a strange one—treating hair loss can itself lead to problems with your hair falling out. A lot of people take minoxidil (Rogaine) to treat thinning hair as they get older. Rogaine can be quite effective, but the problem is that it contains alcohol, which has a drying effect on your scalp. After you use it for a few months, you can go on to form dandruff. As mentioned above, dandruff can lead to hair loss.
What the heck should you do if you are stuck in this vicious loop? Well, you can try switching to another medication. Better yet, you can start using peppermint oil applied to your scalp. As this study shows, peppermint oil can produce more hair growth than minoxidil. It’s totally natural, completely safe, and it’s cost-effective. I have delved deep into this topic before; read the post here.
5. You’ve been crash dieting
If you recently put yourself on a strict diet to try and slim down in time for beach season, it could be that your diet is responsible for your hair loss. Crash dieting may help you to lose weight, but it makes your hair thinner too.
How does it happen? Well, certain diets are just way too restrictive to be good for anyone’s health—like Master Cleanse or the Cabbage Soup Diet. When you put yourself on diets like these, you deprive your body of essential nutrition.
According to JillianMichaels.com, hair does grow back after malnutrition is treated, but it can take months for the body to replenish fully. You need vitamins A, B, C, and E as well as calcium, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and other key nutrients. Meanwhile, if you smoke or drink a lot or have too much caffeine, that can result in losing nutrition. This is doubly bad for dieters who rely on caffeine and crash diets to lose weight.
6. You’re getting older
Sad to say, one more common reason for hair loss is that it is simply your time. According to the American Hair Loss Association, thinning or balding hair due to male pattern baldness typically impacts men by age 35. Even though thinning hair in women does not receive as much attention, it is extremely common as well. Around 40% of Americans with age- or genetics-related hair loss are female.
So it could be that you are simply getting older, and hair loss is going to become more and more of a problem. You don’t have to be 35+ for this to happen either; some people start losing hair when they are in their 20s.
None of this should be a cause to panic, however—there are still things you can do to try and keep your hair as full and healthy as possible.
What Can You Do About It?
If you think you are losing hair, one of three things is going on:
- You are not actually losing hair—it just seems that way because it is damaged. Take better care of it and wait. Things will likely go back to normal.
- You are experiencing Telogen effluvium because of an acute or chronic stressor, an infection, a bad habit, or so on. Correct the bad habit, treat the underlying infection, or remove the stressor from your life. Your hair should start growing back within a few months.
- You are experiencing aging-related thinning or baldness. This is a long-term condition and you will need to take extra good care of your hair from now on.
So in a lot of cases, just waiting and being patient (and not panicking) will solve the problem. No matter what the cause of your hair loss is (whether it is temporary or long-term), you can take these steps to get things quickly and effectively back under control:
1. Start eating right
If you have been crash dieting, you need to stop. Even if you haven’t dieted, you could have some dietary gaps. Make sure you are eating an abundant variety of nutritious foods.
2. Take a multivitamin for hair
One of the easiest ways to close any nutritional gaps you might have is to take a multivitamin for hair along with a balanced diet. Hair multivitamins are jam-packed with everything your hair follicles need to develop strong, healthy, vibrant strands.
3. Use healthy hair oils, especially peppermint oil
There are so many oils which are great for your hair—coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, and castor oil just to name a few. As mentioned previously, peppermint oil is the best. These oils nourish your scalp, balance oil production, and keep your hair from drying out and breaking. Start making use of one or more on a regular basis for deep conditioning. In small quantities, they work great as leave-in conditioners too.
4. Ditch your blow dryer and avoid harsh chemicals
While you are at it, ditch your bad hair habits. That includes your blow dryer, excessive use of heat styling tools, and harsh permanent dyes and perms. Try and use gentler styling methods and semi-permanent and natural dyes whenever you can.
These are just a few suggestions. I also highly recommend that you check out this thread on Reddit. There is a lot of great information in here, especially if you are taking Rogaine or another drug for hair loss.
Conclusion: Hair Loss Happens—But You Can Fight Back!
Hair loss is no fun, and it is way too easy to panic when you first start pulling unusual amounts of hair away in the shower. In a lot of cases, hair loss is temporary and will pass. In other cases, you may have to accept that it is a standard part of aging. But you are not helpless against thinning or balding hair. You can fight back by replacing bad hair habits with good ones, eating a nutritious diet, and taking a multivitamin formulated for a full head of beautiful hair.