Reasons Why You’re Losing Your Hair

Why is my hair falling out ?

It’s true that men are more likely to lose their hair than women, mostly due to male pattern baldness (more on that later).

But thinning hair and hair loss are also common in women, and no less demoralizing. Reasons can range from the simple and temporary—a vitamin deficiency—to the more complex, like an underlying health condition.

In many cases, there are ways to treat both male and female hair loss. It all depends on the cause. Here are some common and not-so-common reasons why you might be seeing less hair on your head.

 

Stress

Any kind of physical trauma—surgery, a car accident, or a severe illness, even the flu— can cause temporary hair loss. This can trigger a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. Hair has a programmed life cycle: a growth phase, rest phase and shedding phase.

“When you have a really stressful event, it can shock the hair cycle, (pushing) more hair into the shedding phase,” explains Marc Glashofer, MD, a dermatologist in New York. Hair loss often becomes noticeable three-to-six months after the trauma.

What to do: The good news is that hair will start growing back as your body recovers. You need to help it recover.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one example of the type of physical stress that can cause hair loss (that and hormones). Pregnancy-related hair loss is seen more commonly after your baby has been delivered rather than actually during pregnancy. “Giving birth is pretty traumatic,” says Dr. Glashofer.

Male pattern baldness

About two out of three men experience hair loss by age 60, and most of the time it’s due to male pattern baldness. This type of hair loss, caused by a combo of genes and male sex hormones, usually follows a classic pattern in which the hair recedes at the temples, leaving an M-shaped hairline.

What to do: There are topical creams like minoxidil and oral medications such as finasteride . But be careful over the counter medicines and lotions are not strong enough to have any positive and lasting effects. See your doctor or see the medical support team at Hair Centre International to halt hair loss and treatments to cause hair to grow; or surgery to transplant or graft hair.

Heredity

Female-pattern hair loss, called androgenic or androgenetic alopecia, is basically the female version of male pattern baldness. “If you come from a family where women started to have hair loss at a certain age, then you might be more prone to it,” says Dr. Glashofer. Unlike men, women don’t tend to have a receding hairline, instead their part may widen and they may have noticeable thinning of hair.

Female hormones

Just as pregnancy hormone changes can cause hair loss, so can switching or going off birth-control pills. This can also cause telogen effluvium, and it may be more likely if you have a family history of hair loss. The change in the hormonal balance that occurs at menopause may also have the same result. “The androgen (male hormone) receptors on the scalp becoming activated,” explains Mark Hammonds, MD, a dermatologist with Scott & White Clinic in Round Rock, Texas. “The hair follicles will miniaturize and then you start to lose more hair.”

What to do: If a new Rx is a problem, switch back or talk to your doctor about other birth control types. Stopping oral contraceptives can also sometimes cause hair loss, but this is temporary, says Dr. Hammonds. Don’t make your problem worse with hair-damaging beauty regimens.

Emotional stress

Emotional stress is less likely to cause hair loss than physical stress, but it can happen, for instance, in the case of divorce, after the death of a loved one, or while caring for an aging parent. More often, though, emotional stress won’t actually precipitate the hair loss. It will exacerbate a problem that’s already there, says Dr. Glashofer.

What to do: As with hair loss due to physical stress, this shedding will eventually abate. While it’s not known if reducing stress can help your hair, it can’t hurt either. Take steps to combat stress and anxiety, like getting more exercise, trying talk therapy, or getting more support if you need it.

Anemia

Almost one in 10 women aged 20 through 49 suffers from anemia due to an iron deficiency (the most common type of anemia), which is an easily fixable cause of hair loss. You doctor will have to do a blood test to determine for sure if you have this type of anemia.

What to do: A simple iron supplement should correct the problem. In addition to hair loss, other symptoms of anemia include fatigue, headache, dizziness, pale skin, and cold hands and feet.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the medical term for having an underactive thyroid gland. This little gland located in your neck produces hormones that are critical to metabolism as well as growth and development and, when it’s not pumping out enough hormones, can contribute to hair loss. Your doctor can do tests to determine the real cause

What to do: Synthetic thyroid medication will take care of the problem. Once your thyroid levels return to normal, so should your hair.

Although relatively uncommon in the U.S., low levels of vitamin B are another correctible cause of hair loss.

Vitamin B deficiency

What to do: Like anemia, simple supplementation should help the problem. So can dietary changes. Find natural vitamin B in fish, meat, starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits. As always, eating a balanced diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein and “good” fats such as avocado and nuts will be good for your hair and your overall health.

Auto-immune related hair loss

This is also called alopecia areata and basically is a result of an overactive immune system. “The body gets confused,” says Dr. Glashofer. “The immune system sees the hair as foreign and targets it by mistake.”

What to do: Steroid injections are the first line of treatment for alopecia areata, which appears as hair loss in round patches on the head. Other drugs, including Rogaine, may also be used. The course of the condition can be unpredictable, with hair growing back then falling out again.

Drammatic weight loss

This is also called alopecia areata and basically is a result of an overactive immune system. “The body gets confused,” says Dr. Glashofer. “The immune system sees the hair as foreign and targets it by mistake.”

What to do: Steroid injections are the first line of treatment for alopecia areata, which appears as hair loss in round patches on the head. Other drugs, may also be used. The course of the condition can be unpredictable, with hair growing back then falling out again.

Chemotherapy

Some of the drugs used to beat back cancer unfortunately can also cause your hair to fall out. “Chemotherapy is like a nuclear bomb,” says Dr. Glashofer. “It destroys rapidly dividing cells. That means cancer cells, but also rapidly dividing cells like hair.”

What to do: Once chemotherapy is stopped, your hair will grow back although often it will come back with a different texture (perhaps curly when before it was straight) or a different color. Researchers are working on more targeted drugs to treat cancer, ones that would bypass this and other side effects. In the meantime, Here’s How to Deal With Thinning Hair During Chemo.

 

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