Why Is My Hair Falling Out? 16 Important Reasons You Should Know About
Your hair is falling out in clumps and you have no idea why. It could be caused by an underlying health condition or you’re too stressed out.
There are many factors that can affect your hair growth, such as:
1. Your medications
Many prescription medications can stimulate hair loss. When you’re taking a new medication, make sure you check the list of side effects cause as hair loss could be one of them. Some medications that can potentially lead to hair fall include arthritis medications, blood thinners, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, certain heart problem medications, gout medications and birth control pills.
Note that while vitamin A can be good for your hair, an excess can cause hair loss therefore, vitamin A supplements can be a culprit as well if your diet has too much vitamin A in it.
If you suspect your medication is causing hair loss, consult your doctor to determine any alternative medications. You can also ask your doctor whether your dosage can be reduced.
How Do You Know If Your Hair Is Healthy? Take The Hair Quiz and Find Out Now!
2. Thyroid disease
Hair fall is a common symptom of thyroid disease, like many other health conditions. Thyroid disease can be classified as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism where the thyroid gland produces too little or too much thyroid hormone respectively.
Whether your thyroid gland is underactive or overactive, excessive hair fall is a possible outcome – but it is a treatable one. See a doctor to get diagnosed for the condition and to determine appropriate treatment. In this case, treating hair fall is dependent on addressing its cause.
3. Iron-deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common health conditions that cause hair loss.
The condition, as the name implies, occurs due to lack of iron in the body from poor diet or malnutrition, blood loss, problems associated with iron absorption etc. Iron is an important mineral which forms the red pigment in red blood cells, called hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is the oxygen carrier in red blood cells. Your scalp requires oxygen and nutrients to thrive so it only makes sense to feed your blood with more iron rich foods such as animal meat, collard greens, lentils and whole grains.
4. A recent surgery
Hair falling out around three months following surgery is a common issue many women experience. The surgery and the anesthesia used can put major physical stress on the body, altering the growth cycle of the hair on your scalp and affecting its health. Hair loss typically results a few months after surgery and may persist for a several months. However, surgery-related hair loss is temporary and your hair will grow back.
Genetic hair loss, also known as androgenic alopecia, is the leading cause of hair loss according to the American Academy of Dermatology. You can inherit the gene from your father’s side or your mother’s side of the family, but you are most likely going to have it if both sides have hair loss.
Women with androgenic alopecia may notice hair thinning at the hairline behind their bangs. Unlike men who typically experience a receding hairline, women notice widening of their hairline as a result of excessive hair loss. The condition may take place as you age, but it can occur as early as in your 20s.
You are more likely to experience genetic hair loss if your mother experienced thinning hair too. Sometimes, hair loss can be diffuse. To address the issue, see a dermatologist to examine your hair loss pattern. This will determine whether your hair loss is hereditary. You may also have to get a blood test and a biopsy of your scalp done.
In most cases, hair growth aids such as Rogaine are prescribed for genetic hair loss. You may want to use a formula with a low strength to reduce chances of unnecessary side effects.
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Warning: Avoid using Rogaine if you are pregnant or nursing.
6. Pregnancy and childbirth
Pregnant women typically have healthy hair that is smooth, silky and thick because hair doesn’t fall our like it normally does. However, as estrogen levels dip after childbirth, women tend to lose the hair the body wasn’t shedding during pregnancy. Pregnancy-related hair loss usually occurs around three months after the child is born and fortunately, it is temporary. Once your estrogen levels are back in the game, your hair will begin to fall at a normal rate.
7. A poor diet
Not having enough of vitamins, minerals, protein, good fats and other nutrients required by your body and hair will lead to hair loss.
Your hair is primarily made of protein, specifically keratin, therefore, having too little in your diet can cause hair loss and dry and damaged hair.
Your scalp’s ability to produce healthy hair declines and you begin to experience hair loss at an alarming rate. Our diets are often protein-rich thanks to animal meat, however, if you’re on a very restrictive diet, you may be prone to hair loss.
Vegans and vegetarians can obtain their protein from a myriad of sources such as quinoa and other whole grains, soy protein, vegetables, nuts and seeds and lentils.
We've also compiled a list of the top 10 Foods to Eat for Thicker and Healthier Hair.
8. You’re using hair styling tools way too much
Using hair styling tools may sometimes involve a lot of pulling and tugging. Furthermore, hair loss is not always about hair falling off its root. Sometimes, hair may get damaged becoming more prone to breakage. Hair appliances that typically cause damage include flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers and other tools that style hair using heat.
Note that styling tools with heat are most damaging when used on wet hair. The reason is simple; you’re boiling the water on each hair shaft, causing brittleness, damage and breakage.
Emotional stress can also lead to hair loss in some women. You’re losing hair – do you think a recent emotional or stressful event such as a breakup or divorce with a partner, a loss of a loved one or job-related stress may be the cause? Note that you may even experience hair fall due to stress a couple of months after the stressful event took place.
Stress is temporary, therefore, so is your stress-related hair loss. Consider taking steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life by re-examining your routine, checking whether you can do something about reducing the workload you have, joining a support group, hanging out with friends more or enjoying some peaceful solo time once in a while.
Hair loss caused by stress may be upsetting but you can expect your hair to stop falling excessively about six to eight months later. In the meantime, consider modifying your lifestyle, improving your diet and exercising more regularly.
Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder in which sufferers pull on their hair impulsively. This causes hair loss which is noticeable in most people. Some people with trichotillomania may feel compelled to pull the hair out of the eyebrows, nose, eyelashes, scalp and other body regions.
11. Alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder which causes hair loss because the immune system begins to attach your hair follicles in the scalp. The condition occurs in both men and women equally and around 4.7 million people in the US are affected by it.
The cause of alopecia areata is unknown but some experts believe it may be triggered by illness or stress.
Hair loss associated with this condition can occur in three forms: alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis.
Alopecia areata typically involves patchy bald areas that are smooth and round. It can occur on the scalp, legs and eyebrows. Alopecia totalis involves the loss of hair on the entire head causing complete baldness. Alopecia universalis involves hair loss from all over the body.
See a doctor to determine the cause of your hair loss. Observing your hair loss pattern and blood tests can help rule out the underlying conditions causing hair to fall out.
Alopecia areata occurs in both men and women equally and around 4.7 million people in the US are affected by it.
Reducing stress is one of the conservative treatments to reduce hair loss caused by alopecia areata. Your doctor may prescribe Rogaine. Avoid using Rogaine if you are pregnant or nursing.
12. Telogen effluvium
Telogen effluvium typically occurs after surgery, pregnancy, extreme stress, poor diet and drastic weight loss. It is characterized by the alarming loss of hair every day especially from drying brushing, shampooing and styling.
When you have telogen effluvium, your hair growth phase shifts from growth to resting phase much faster than it should before quickly moving to its shedding or telogen phase. This causes hair to fall out dramatically.
You may notice hair fall around 6 weeks to 3 months following the stressful event. During its peak stage, you may lose clumps of hair. This may be upsetting but it is reversible.
For causes such as pregnancy, you may have to wait till the condition improves. However, in the case of medication, you can ask your doctor for an alternative or a lower dosage. If hair fall is related to stress, you may benefit from trying some stress-busting treatment methods – more on this later.
Telogen effluvium can be a side effect of medications such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, blood thinners and NSAIDs.
13. Fungal infection
A fungal infection can lead to hair loss too. Infections such as ringworm that is common in children can cause the scalp to become dry and flaky, causing hair to fall out, often in patches.
Fortunately, fungal infections can be treated easily using antifungal medication. When the fungal infection disappears, hair fall will reduce as well.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s own immune system begins to attack healthy living tissues, including hair follicles. Lupus is a condition that affects around 1.5 million people, especially in women in their childbearing years.
Apart from hair loss, lupus also causes headaches, extreme fatigue, painful and swollen joints and oral ulcers.
Some people also develop a rash shaped like a butterfly across the bridge of their nose and are more sensitive to sunlight due to lupus.
Other symptoms may include anemia, chest pain, fever and swelling in the hands, feet and around the eyes.
Hair loss from lupus may be mild and typically occurs during styling, brushing and shampooing. In severe cases, hair may fall out in patches and may even occur along with a scalp rash.
Your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist to evaluate your joints and other body tissues for any signs of inflammation. Signs of inflammation often include swelling, redness, pain and heat.
Lupus is a condition that affects around 1.5 million people, especially in women in their childbearing years.
A blood test may be done to check anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) levels, which could be an indicator of lupus as well.
If you suffer from the symptoms of lupus, see a specialist to get proper treatment. If you have joint pain, seeing a rheumatologist should be your first line of action.
For hair loss, see a dermatologist to receive appropriate advice and medication to improve the condition.
15. Polycystic ovarian disease
In the United States alone, around five million women suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition caused by a hormonal imbalance in which the ovaries produce excessive male hormones.
Women with PCOS experience hair loss from the scalp, but thicker, coarser hair may grow on other regions of the body such as the face and chest. Other symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, ovarian cysts, acne and possibly infertility.
A blood test can determine whether you have PCOS. Your doctor will check for elevated testosterone and DHEAS levels.
The effects of PCOS can be brought down by taking birth control pills. If you cannot take birth control pills, you may be advice to take spironolactone, another male hormone blocker.
Exercising and attempting to lose weight is another way you can bring down the effects of male hormones.
In the United States alone, around five million women suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome
16. Scalp conditions
An unhealthy scalp mat lead to inflammation, inhibiting proper hair growth.
Psoriasis, dandruff and fungal infections such as ringworm are some examples of skin conditions that may cause hair to fall out and make it difficult for healthier hair to grow.
A physical examination of your skin will help determine the condition you are suffering from. Treatment depends on the condition. For example, for dandruff, your doctor may prescribe a medicated shampoo, oral antifungals in case of ring work and light therapy or medications for psoriasis.
Too stressed out? Try these tips!
Who isn’t concerned about stress these days? Whether it’s your work or your personal life, stress can be a major pain in the tush. Fortunately, there are many ways to combat it. Here are a few amazing ways to beat stress:
1. Laugh it up
Anyone heard of laughter therapy? It’s weird but it works. You’re stressed and you’re worried so what do you do? Have a laugh! Join some of your friends and go out somewhere or enjoy some time alone at the park and read a funny book while you’re there (list of humorous books here). Watch a funny movie such as one of these gems or a funny video (Charlie bit my finger, anyone?). Or maybe a funny yet inspirational video?
People who laugh often are happier, not because they do not have problems in their life but because they have the ability to push aside their pain and laugh through it. Laughing is not for the weak; on the contrary it is for the brave hearted. It is for those choose to look at the brighter side of life and not the darker side.
A study conducted in the Oxford University reveals that laughter can increase our pain threshold. People who laugh more have 10% more ability to withstand pain than those who do not. Laughing also releases endorphins which work like pain-killers and decreases the amount of pain one feels. Nothing can heal you from pain more than a good hearty laugh.
Laughter makes us forget our pain and we begin to look forward to everything more positively.
Laughter enhances our creativity and our ability to learn. According to a study, children laugh as much as 300 times throughout the day while adults laugh less than 20 times. That is why children have a greater learning curve and a better sense of creativity. Laughter increases your body’s intake of oxygen and stimulates the release of endorphins.
People who laugh more have 10% more ability to withstand pain than those who do not.
2. Try yoga
When you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the hormone, cortisol. Your body produces slow and steady amounts of cortisol under normal conditions to allow your muscles to function. When you’re in a stressful situation such as before taking a school exam, being late for work, having too much to do or a nagging partner, your body goes into fight or flight mode, causing a cortisol to flood your body.
Being stressed out by life persistently leads to high levels of cortisol in the body which in turn, leads to high blood pressure, ulcers, weight gain, bone density loss, poor immune system and so on.
Your nervous system has two branches, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic system is the fight or flight mode we just talked about and the parasympathetic system is the rest or digest state that controls your daily functions. Therefore, when under stress, you need to seek the latter.
The only problem is these two states are happening automatically within our bodies and we can't control them.
But here’s the catch, both systems are automatic an out of our control. So how do we de-stress when we want to? Through yoga.
Your diaphragm is a muscle which is used while breathing. It functions automatically but you can control how you breathe. Practicing certain breathing patterns in yoga (pranayama) may help the body to shift to rest and digest mode and allow you to enjoy some peace.
Apart from stress relief, there are many other benefits of yoga as well such as these.
3. Or try Zumba
Zumba is a fun dance workout which allows you to flush all your stress (and heaps of calories) that you bottle up every day. It’s a stress-reliever because it is fast-paced and exciting and thus, stimulates the release of endorphins in the body. Some people suggest zumba over therapy. Just lose yourself to the music and watch your worries fade away.
4. How about a cup of tea?
Having a cup of tea every day can help you recover from stress quickly, according to a study by University College London. The study reveals that black tea may have an effect on cortisol in the body.
The study found that participants who drank black tea were far more capable of de-stressing more quickly than people taking a placebo. In addition, participants who consumed black tea four times every day for six weeks had lower levels of cortisol in their blood after a stressful event than those drinking a placebo.