Reasons Your Hair May Be Falling Out
Possible Causes of Hair Loss
While the vast majority of hair loss is caused by genetics, there are many other reasons men and women lose their hair—and the effects can be cumulative for those who have multiple contributing factors.
Only a medical professional can determine the exact cause of your hair loss, but gaining an understanding of common triggers can help your decision-making process as you explore ways to get your hair back.
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What are the most common causes of hair loss?
Hereditary hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss. The condition occurs because of an inherited hormonal sensitivity passed down from either or both biological parents. For men, hereditary hair loss is often called male pattern baldness because it typically occurs in a predictable pattern. Generally, men experience a receding hair line beginning at the temples and/or thinning at the crown. The condition progresses to the point where the two balding areas meet and leave only a horseshoe-shaped band of hair around the sides and back of the head. The most common reason women lose their hair is also hereditary hair loss, but it doesn’t always follow a recognizable pattern. The condition can present as a widening part, patchy hair loss or overall thinning. Androgenetic alopecia is progressive for both men and women, meaning hair loss worsens over time.
Age is the second most common cause of hair loss. A natural part of the aging process, hair loss and thinning can occur when an increasing number of hair follicles go into the resting phase, while remaining hair becomes shorter and finer. This condition is called involutional alopecia.
What conditions and diseases can cause hair loss?
Numerous medical conditions can cause hair loss, including:
- Thyroid disease
- Autoimmune diseases, including lupus
- Certain cancers
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Can hormonal changes cause hair loss?
Fluctuating hormone levels in women can cause or contribute to hair loss, especially those surrounding:
- The weeks and months after childbirth (postpartum)
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
What prescription drugs and medical treatments cause hair loss?
Common medications and treatments for medical conditions can trigger hair loss, including:
- Acne medications
- Oral contraceptives
- Cholesterol-lowering medications
- Epilepsy medications
- Beta-blockers for high blood pressure
- Blood thinners
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer
- Immune-suppressing drugs
- Thyroid medications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Weight loss drugs
- Bariatric surgery
Can a poor diet cause hair loss?
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is essential to having strong, healthy hair. When you’re deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, it can cause you to experience hair loss. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, along with rapid weight loss or undergoing bariatric surgery, can also contribute to hair loss because the body is not receiving the vital nutrients it needs to function properly.
Below is a list of nutrients that are important for your hair:
- All the B Vitamins (particularly Biotin)
- Vitamin D
- Essential Fatty Acids
Does stress cause hair loss?
While everyday stress doesn’t cause hair loss, three types of hair loss are associated with high stress levels, including:
- Telogen effluvium, often occurring when there’s a sudden shock to the system like that experienced with childbirth, surgery, rapid weight loss or any major, traumatic event such as a death in the family, divorce or an accident
- Trichotillomania, a stress-induced impulse control disorder that drives people to pull out their own hair
- Alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that mistakenly attacks the hair follicles
How do harsh styling practices affect your hair?
Frequent use of harsh styling practices can cause breakage and hair loss. Some of the most damaging styling practices include:
- Tight hair styles such as ponytails, braids or buns worn for extended periods of time
- Chemical treatments such as coloring, perms and relaxers
- Incorrect use or overuse of hot styling tools
For informational purposes only. The exact cause of hair loss can only be determined by a medical professional.
TYPES OF HAIR LOSS
Conditions That Cause Hair Loss
There are a variety of conditions that cause hair loss. With some conditions, hair loss is reversible. In others, the loss is permanent. If you’re researching hair loss and what you can do about it, it helps to gain an understanding of the different types of hair loss.