How to Prevent Hair Loss
We all lose hair. You experience hair fall while drying your hair, while washing it or combing it and find hair everywhere in your house, including your living room, carpets and not to mention, the bathtub. We lose around fifty to hundred hairs each day, which is crazy if we don’t have a lot on our heads. However, normal hair loss is well, normal. It’s just your hair passing its cycles from loss to replacement.
However, apart from normal hair fall, there may be an underlying medical condition causing it, ranging from mild to serious. In such cases, it is important that you see your health practitioner as soon as possible and seek the required treatment.
Find out the cause
The following are the most common causes of hair fall and how you can detect them:
Therefore, if your mother’s or father’s side of the family shows signs of hair loss, chances are that this may be the cause of your hair loss too. If both parents experience hair loss, there is a very high risk of you suffering from it as well.
For women, thinning at the hairline at the front is a main sign of hair loss that occurs genetically. It may take place at a very early stage, even as early as your 20’s. Hair loss can also be diffuse, which means that it may occur at other regions of the scalp too. If your mother has the same pattern of thinning, chances are that you will too.
However, even genetic hair loss can be reduced by taking the necessary steps as advised by your dermatologist. Make sure you visit a dermatologist as soon as you experience hair line thinning or hair loss to evaluate the cause. The dermatologist will assess the hair loss pattern in order to determine whether it’s hereditary. A blood test may also be done to ensure that there is no other cause. A biopsy of your scalp can also show whether you’re experiencing hereditary hair loss.
You may have to apply Rogaine twice a day on your scalp. Women may be required to use a low-strength formula to prevent unwanted side effects. Women are strictly advised against the usage of Rogaine during pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism is a common issue taking place in millions of people, especially women. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your body produces way less thyroid hormone than you need. Thyroid hormone is responsible for a myriad of functions including your heart rate, mood, metabolism and skin, hair and nail growth as well.
The opposite of hypothyroidism is hyperthyroidism and as you may have already guessed, it takes place when the body produces too much thyroid hormone.
Having too little or too much of the hormone can result in hair loss and other changes in how your body functions. Hyperthyroidism is a less common condition compared to hypothyroidism.
Have a look at this article by You and Your Hormones which talks about the function of thyroid hormones, just in case you’re curious.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism often include fatigue, constipation, unexplained weight gain, depression, impaired concentration, poor hair, skin and nail health etc. If you have hypothyroidism, your hair may be susceptible to fall or breakage due to it being too brittle and weak.
Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include heart palpitation, unexplained weight loss, irritability, weakness, diarrhea, moist skin etc.
Hair loss may occur because your metabolism revs up.
A blood test can indicate whether you have hypo- or hyperthyroidism by measuring TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels. TSH is a hormone produced by your pituitary grand which encourages your thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone. An excess of TSH means you have hypothyroidism, whereas drastically low levels may indicate hyperthyroidism. Your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone medication to restore thyroid levels to normal.
3. Telogen effluvium
This is a common issue that occurs amongst women after pregnancy, extreme weight loss, a major surgery or too much emotional stress. You’ll most probably lose clumps of hair while styling, brushing and shampooing.
Hair loss may also be a side effect of medications such as NSAIDs, antidepressants and beta-blockers.
Telogen effluvium takes place because of the rapid shift of hair from growing phase to resting phase prior to quickly shifting to the telogen or shedding phase. You may lose clumps or handfuls of hair during its peak.
Your doctor will evaluate your current lifestyle and search for “bulbs” on the roots of the hair you’ve shed recently. The bulbs will indicate that that stress may be a cause of the cycle speeding up.
Your primary course of action should be to find out the cause. If the cause is related to medication, talk to your doctor and ask him if you can lower your dosage or use any alternative drug. However, if pregnancy or surgery is the cause for hair loss, you may have to wait until hair loss slows down. Other causes such as stress and weight loss should be taken care of by finding ways to reduce stress in your life and improving your diet.
4. Iron deficiency anemia
This is something I’ve talked about in one of my previous articles as well. You can have a look at it here.
Like I said in my article, women who don’t have enough iron in their diet or those who have heavy periods are often prone to iron deficiency anemia, which means that you blood doesn’t have sufficient red blood cells.
Your red blood cells transport oxygen to all the cells in your body, giving them energy to function. This includes your hair follicle cells as well.
Iron deficiency anemia causes symptoms such as hair fall, fatigue, pale skin, headaches, trouble concentrating, shortness of breath due to physical exertion and cold hands and feet.
A blood test can help identify iron levels in the body by smearing ferritin – a protein that stores iron.
To combat iron deficiency anemia, you need to include plenty of iron-rich foods such as lean beef, chicken, fish, dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains and lentils. Couple these with vitamin C rich foods such as citrus, cabbage and guava because it enhances the absorption of iron.
5. External abuse
Excessive styling, coloring, shampooing, heating, curling and practically doing anything that involves heat, chemicals and a lot of touching can harm your hair. Chemicals and heat treatments cause hair to become dry and brittle, making it more susceptible to breakage.
I’m pretty sure you are or at least once were a culprit of a hair crime – I was too. I’m a hair freak and I always feel that my hair is my best accessory, so style and color – why not?
Styling and salon pampering can make your hair look sultry and desirable for a short period but over time, your hair will become weak, dry and unhealthy.
Treatment for this is simple. Stop abusing your hair! Go natural and you’ll discover that your hair doesn’t need styling, coloring or anything to make it look beautiful. Work on your diet and work out more, your hair won’t break and it will fall minimally.
If you’re practicing the best hair habits and are still experiencing hair fall, maybe it’s time to visit a dermatologist.
Other causes of hair fall include alopecia areata, lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome and skin conditions associated with the scalp.
Start eating better
You’re dreading trips to the salon and each time you see yourself in the mirror, you cringe when you notice that your hair looks much thinner and unhealthier than before. Your brushes and combs are plagued with your fallen hair and even your hands have strands of your hair when you pass them through it. Just thinking about it gives me shivers!
Been there, done that and guess what, I know how to fix this.
I know that genetics play a huge role when it comes to determining when and how much your hair falls over time but you have control over your hair too. However, I’m not going to talk about any magic pill or mystical potion that’s going to help you – those things are expensive! They don’t work either so let’s focus on cost-effective and failsafe ways of improving our hair.
Like any other part of your body, such as your skin, your hair needs to be healthy too and when we talk about healthy, we mean in terms of food.
Therefore, start stocking up, you’re going to want to feed yourself and your hair the following foods very soon.
Hair Healthy Foods
1. Chicken and eggs for protein
Protein is the building block of well, life. And life includes hair too, because well, hair is awesome. Note that this doesn’t mean that people with no hair are any less awesome – they’re amazing and beautiful – all of us are!
Protein is a primary constituent of hair therefore; your best bet would be to add more protein to your diet if you aim at improving the health of your hair or preventing hair fall or just improving your overall health and lifestyle.
However, common protein rich sources such as red meat (hello, steak!) can be way too fatty if consumed on a daily basis. If you’re having them two to three times a week, you’re good but make sure that the majority of your meals consist of low-fat and low-cholesterol sources of protein.
Also note that high fat diets are also linked to high testosterone levels which may be associated with hair loss, so when it comes to the list of foods for preventing hair loss, I’d give room for steak because of its high iron and steak content, but not too much.
Leaner protein sources such as chicken breasts, fish, eggs, low-fat cheese, yogurt, almonds, beans and quinoa are packed with protein and are good for health and weight loss too. Soy beans and soy products are also low-fat and are rich in protein. Check out this recipe for balsamic glazed tofu by The Vegan Foodie, it is absolutely uh-mazing! My most common complaint with most tofu recipes is that the tofu comes out too dry, bland or just plain weird but I love this one.
2. Seafood for zinc
Most of us who suffer from hair fall have iron or zinc deficiencies. We know where and how we can get our iron but we often overlook zinc. Zinc plays a critical role in many functions of the body, ranging to cellular reproduction to maintaining hormonal balance and both these functions and everything in between do have an impact on your hair growth and hair health.
However, when it comes to hair health the most important role zinc has to play is that it administers the glands that are attached to your hair follicles. Therefore, when your body is low on zinc, your hair follicles weaken and cause your hair to fall out.
The only way to reverse this issue is to add high-zinc foods such as seafood. Oysters, mussels, shrimp and fish are rich in zinc and help promote hair growth. They’re also amazing for super shiny and silky hair. Other sources that are also rich in zinc include red meat, poultry and nuts.
Note that excessive zinc in the diet can actually cause hair fall, therefore, instead of taking a supplement, stick to making diet modifications only.
3. Raisins for iron
Iron is perhaps one of the most important minerals your body requires because of its role in manufacturing hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the carrier of oxygen in red blood cells which transport oxygen to various parts of the body, including your hair.
When you have healthy hemoglobin levels in the blood, oxygen is adequately supplied to all tissues and organs. This means that your scalp is receiving sufficient blood flow which in turn, promotes hair growth.
However, when I talk about adding more iron, I don’t mean you have to have steak and liver all day, every day – this can actually become counterproductive and cause health issues associated with a high-fat diet.
Remember that sugar is bad for skin, hair and your overall health. So how do we curb our sugar cravings? Have raisins! Cherry juice is also packed with iron – just don’t add sugar. When I feel that I need some sugar, I have a couple of dates. They are tiny but give you an amazing energy boost. Just try adding them to your pre-workout shakes! My second favorite choice is a banana. Have it with peanut butter. You’re welcome.
Another great tip to make the best tasting workout shake is to just add a banana, it sweetens it and gives it a nice creamy texture. I add a banana to almost all my shakes, it’s a clean and real food substitute for sugar. Here’s a video by Keaira LaShae on how to make a protein shake with bananas. I absolutely love her workout videos, they’re so much fun!
Other amazing sources of iron include eggs, dairy, red meat, poultry, dark leafy greens and whole grains.
Make sure you add in some vitamin C sources along with these foods too because it aids in the absorption of iron. Add some lemon juice or orange wedges to your salad, add strawberries or blueberries to your workout shakes, try adding some lime to your meat – go crazy.
4. Peppers for silica
Silica is something I don’t get to hear a lot about when it comes to improving health or preventing hair fall. However, your body requires silica to absorb vitamins and minerals. Therefore, if you don’t have enough silica in your diet, all the aforementioned changes you are making in your diet will be almost useless.
Green and red peppers, bean sprouts, cucumber skin (yes, have cucumber with the skin!) and potato with skin are excellent sources of silica.
5. Sweet potato for vitamin A
Vitamin A contributes to the production of sebum in your scalp. Sebum is the oily-like substance that your scalp produces to naturally condition your hair and prevent hair from falling out. Make sure you restrict yourself to no more than 15,000 IU of vitamin A per day, especially if you’re taking supplements. Having more can actually lead to hair loss.
Other awesome sources include all yellow and orange vegetables and fruits such as pumpkin, squash, papaya and carrots.
6. Almonds for magnesium
Magnesium is required for over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body, which as you may have already guessed, includes your hair growth as well.
However, most of us don’t get enough of it. Lack of magnesium in the body can lead to inflammation and hair loss in both men and women.
I can’t stress enough on it but have more magnesium! Foods such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, spinach, kale, lentils, halibut and brown rice are rich in magnesium so why say no? These sources taste pretty darn good.
I think one of my favorite ways to add more green to my diet is by juicing. Juicing is a great way to add a large amount of leafy greens to your diet as compared to having veggies raw. Raw veggie salads are however, amazing for lunches. For breakfasts, I stick to a green smoothie or green juice.
7. Tuna for selenium
Selenium is a trace element required for the production of selenoproteins in the body. These regulate metabolism, reproduction, immunity and DNA synthesis. In addition, they also stimulate the growth of new hair. Not having enough selenium cause reduce hair growth, cause hair follicle abnormalities and also hair fall.
My favorite source of selenium is tuna but you can also get it from ham, halibut, brazil nuts and shrimp.
Check Your Daily Habits
You’re a health freak but you’re still losing hair. Stop freaking out because there might be other ways you may be causing your hair to fall as well.
Here are some ways to prevent hair fall by improving your daily practices.
1. If you have to use styling products, wash them off
Sometimes styling is an essential part of every girl’s routine because a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do but you can use products and still make sure your hair doesn’t get damaged or fall out.
It doesn’t matter what you use, hair sprays, gels, waxes… anything, just wash them off once you’re home.
Sleeping with styling products will cause the product to get into the scalp and clog pores because of the movement you make while in bed and because your head is pressing the pillow.
2. Say no to sodium lauryl sulfate
Any hair product, especially shampoo, containing sodium lauryl sulfate or any other sulfate is bad for your hair. Every day use of such products can damage hair, cause brittleness and eventually cause hair to fall or break off. Extended usage is also linked to poisoning in the body. Here is a link to the best sulfate-free shampoos voted by people.
3. Don’t brush your hair when its wet
Your hair is loosely held to its follicles after a shower so brushing your hair will cause excessive hair fall. Furthermore, avoid rubbing your hair when you’re drying it with a towel. Use a t-shirt and dab your hair and leave it to dry on its own.
Another quick tip is that you should never iron your hair while it’s wet! This can causes damages and brittleness.
4. Avoid massages
A mild massage for a minute or two is okay but vigorous massages can result in hair fall. Whether you’re using an oil, a deep conditioner or a shampoo, make sure you don’t rub your scalp with your hands too hard.
5. Don’t tie your hair too tightly
Keeping your hair tied can actually prevent hair fall but make sure you tie it in a loose braid. Tight up dos and ponytails can cause too much tension in the hair and pull individual strands back, leading to hair thinning from the front.
6. Use a wide toothed comb
Or a hard bristled hair brush with ample space between bristles when you’re brushing your hair. Using these tools when your hair is completely dry will prevent your hair from falling and also not cause any damage. Avoid combing too hard and too frequently and limit combing to twice a day to ensure that you don’t cause much hair to fall on a daily basis. Here is an amazing and detailed blog post on the different types of hair brushes and combs and what their uses are – there are so many!