Hair loss can be confusing and difficult to come to terms with. We know that men suffer from hair loss, sometimes as early as their 20s, but it’s rarely mentioned that a large number of women suffer female pattern baldness, too. Having your hair fall out can be a demoralizing experience, and may make you self conscious. You may wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” Well, to be honest, there are a number of hair loss causes, some more common than others, that could be attributed to the hair loss people experience.
Normal versus Abnormal Hair Loss
People typically lose between 50 to 100 hairs a day. That may seem like a lot, but with over 100,000 hairs on your head, this amount is a pittance to pay. So how much hair loss is normal and when should you be worried? If sections of your hair are falling out in clumps rather than more gradually, if it’s beginning to look thin at the hairline and won’t regrow on its own, or if you think you need immediate intervention to prevent further hair loss, you might be suffering from medical conditions.
It's estimated that 80 million men and women experience hereditary hair loss. This issue is significantly more prevalent in adults, but it can occasionally occur in children as well. Women typically see hair loss evenly on the head, beginning to thin where the hair parts on the center of their scalp, whereas men notice it around the crown of their head and at the hairline. There’s no one way to determine how to prevent hair loss, but if you’re paying attention to the overarching signs and symptoms that come with the common causes of hair loss, you can be more aware of when it begins to develop.
The Most Common Hair Loss Causes
Androgenetic Alopecia is a fancy term for female or male pattern baldness, though, there's nothing fancy about sudden hair loss; it's just among the most common causes. The wide range of Alopecia is hereditary, but it is typically first noticeable in childhood and develops as you age. For women in particular, it’s important to be mindful of Traction Alopecia depending on your preferred hairstyle, and some gradual hair loss can occur after hitting menopause.
Alopecia Areata is a devastating condition where the immune system begins to attack your hair follicles. Hair will fall out suddenly from the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes, sometimes raining down in clumps from the onset of this condition, causing some people to take matters into their own hands and removing the rest of it themselves.
Talking to your doctor about non-surgical hair replacement practices, such as taking medications like Minoxidil, may help you keep a handle on your hair loss. Additionally, organizations such as Locks of Love help provide complementary resources for wigs when normal hair growth just isn't possible in the immediate future.
This fungal infection is typically associated with unsanitary conditions and direct contact with an affected person, and can spread across a person’s entire body, including the scalp. A well-known and common affliction, it is incredibly difficult to get rid of on your own, and maybe even a touch embarrassing to admit to a doctor that you’ve contracted.
Ringworm is contracted through physical contact with another person (or even an animal) that has it, or by way of brushing against a dirty, bacteria-laden surface. One of the ways to get rid of this scaly, oozy, round-edged fungal disturbance is to purchase some anti-dandruff or medicated shampoo. Sulfate dioxide is the active ingredient in the most effective treatments, and it’s important to remember not to scratch the affected area, as well as wash your scalp as often as possible.
Being stressed out is, well, stressful, and people all deal with varying levels of stress differently, hair loss being an unfortunate and physiological bystander at times. With all of what may be going on in your life, you may find that one day you look in the mirror and notice your hairline is shrinking where a thick coat of hair had once been.
Fortunately, Telogen Effluvium need not be permanent, and very often isn’t! Since stress manifests in different ways, it’s important to find solutions that help you. Watching your favorite TV shows, reading, relaxing activities, long walks and general exercise, mindful meditation and more all help to reduce stress levels.
A lesser-known condition called Trichotillomania is a variation of stress-induced hair loss, linked more towards obsessive compulsive tendencies. This condition is characterized by becoming so stressed that you pull out hair from your eyebrows, hairline, eyelashes, and other areas of your body. To help reduce the urge to pull hair, finding stress-free activities that occupy your hands such as playing with play-doh or using a fidget spinner, have shown some success.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism are autoimmune disorders that impact your hair’s ability to go through it’s natural growth phases. Typically inherited, people with thyroid disorders are usually missing essential nutrients like Zinc, Iron, Biotin, and Protein. Taking supplements or eating foods rich with these vitamins, as well as taking medication to steady your thyroid, should halt and potentially reverse this type of hair loss.
Contact a medical professional if you think you have an over- or under-active thyroid; chances are, hair loss is just a side effect to something more detrimental to your body’s health.
Pregnancy & Birth Control
When you think of a planned pregnancy, you may think of the beauty of birth and your future child. Unfortunately, future mothers can go through unexpected hair loss because of the influx of hormones. This may be as a result of decreasing levels of estrogen, which may be resolved within a year’s time. In the meantime, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a conditioner that doesn't weigh your hair down, products designed specifically for fine hair, and to reduce any invasive hair treatments until after your pregnancy.
Birth control can cause the same issues because of lower estrogen levels. If you're experiencing hair loss from a certain form of birth control, notify your gynecologist and ask if you can be switched to a better solution for your healthcare needs. Protection shouldn't cause you any discomfort, especially not hair loss!
Losing your hair from a known hereditary issue shouldn't come as a surprise, which means you can be prepared for this inevitably. If you think you may battle Alopecia or autoimmune-related hair loss causes, request a consultation with a cosmetic dermatologist for help exploring solutions.