Common Causes of Hair Loss -- And How to Treat Them
Finding a few stray hairs in the shower isn’t usually a big deal, but noticeable thinning can be alarming. If you can see your scalp through your hair, if you are finding too much hair in your comb, or even if you are noticing stray hairs all over your pillow or clothes, then you likely need to learn more about the potential causes of hair loss. Discovering “why” you’re losing hair is the first way to finding a solution. In many cases, simple changes to your lifestyle, diet, or medication can stifle the problem. Often, hair loss is temporary and will correct itself over time. Finding out why you are losing your hair or what type of hair loss you have contracted can give you peace of mind. It can let you know what to expect and how to fix or cope with the situation.
Temporary Hair Loss
Telogen effluvium is a form of short-term hair loss, usually caused by medication or by an experience of great stress, such as having a baby or going through a major surgery. Hair goes through cycles of rest (its “telogen state”) and growth (its “anagen phase”). After one of these stressful events, a greater percentage of your hair might switch from its cycle of growth into its state of rest. This type of hair loss generally only lasts a short period of time, anywhere from a few weeks to six months. Unfortunately, the best solution to this type of loss is time and patience. Once the shock from the event that triggered the loss has passed, your hair growth should resume in its natural way.
Women are prime candidates for thyroid problems. An underactive or overactive thyroid can cause extreme fluctuations in weight — and it can affect your hair growth. An underactive thyroid can cause your hair to become brittle, inducing breakage and the appearance of thinning hair. If hair loss is directly caused by your thyroid problem, the medications designed to manage your thyroid should have a similar effect on your hair loss problem. That is to say, once your thyroid is performing as it should, your hair loss should begin to reduce.
Some forms of hair loss, such as “androgenetic alopecia” (male and female pattern baldness), are genetic. In fact, most of the time, people inherit their hair loss problem. Hair loss that is genetic can cause the hairline to thin at a young age — it often will begin when people are in their twenties. A medication specifically designed to reduce hair loss can help if you are suffering from genetic hair loss. And your dermatologist can help you discover if genetics is the reason that you notice your hair beginning to thin. Your dermatologist might also be able to come up with a solution that works for you.
Chronic Medical Conditions
Some conditions, such as lupus or Lyme disease, can impact your appearance and result in thin, easily broken hair strands. Your doctor can help you determine if you have a chronic condition, but if you have already been diagnosed, then the hair trouble you are experiencing is likely related to your condition. In many cases, treating the underlying condition can halt the hair loss, too.
Anemia, which is brought on by a deficiency in iron, is common in young women and can contribute to hair loss. If you have menstrual periods with an abnormally heavy discharge or ones that are abnormally long, you may be suffering from anemia. Other signs of anemia are extreme fatigue and weakness. If your body is anemic, then your hair suffers too. Iron supplements can help reverse the problem, as can vitamins specifically designed to promote hair growth. However, this is definitely a problem where you’ll want consultation from a doctor.
The prescription medications you take could be the culprit that is causing you to lose your hair. There are a number of medications that can cause hair loss (such as hormonal treatments or birth control pills). You could be experiencing hair loss as a side effect of one of these. Switching to a different brand of medication or to a different method of health care might help. Some medications and health care programs are more likely to cause hair loss than are others. If medication is causing the problem, then switching medications should allow you to reverse, slow, or stop the problem.
If your scalp is unhealthy, you could experience hair loss. Everything from dandruff to psoriasis to ringworm can cause hair loss — there are really a number of scalp-related issues that could be the cause. Treating these conditions can help reduce or eliminate your loss.
One of the biggest causes of hair loss is not medical at all. The tools and methods you use to style your hair could be the cause of thinning hair. All forms of heat styling (blow dryers, flat irons, or curling irons) weaken individual hair strands and cause them to break.
Even the style you choose for your hair can cause hair loss. Ponytails, buns, or any severe style that is worn flat against the head can cause hair loss. By loosening up the bands you use on your hair and by not pulling hard on your hair as you style, you can put an end to this type of hair loss and thinning.
Discovering the reason behind your hair loss can help you come up with a strategy to address it. That strategy might begin with visiting your doctor, adding a vitamin to your diet, or simply making a change to your hairstyle. Learning more about the underlying causes can help improve the overall look and feel of your hair and allow you to love your hair again.