Hair loss is a part of every day life, yes strand shedding can clog up your shower drain, and yes, it means you have to vacuum every other day or your carpet turns into a hairy rug… But the fact is, hair loss is totally normal.
People joke about tearing their hair out when they’re stressed, but for the many women dealing with real hair loss, it’s no laughing matter.
Seeing a lot of hair fall out can be frustrating, surprising and downright disheartening, especially if it’s sudden. And, according to the American Hair Loss Association, women represent 40 percent of those with hair loss in the U.S.
On average we lose around 80 strands a day, if you begin to shed significantly more than that or you notice they aren’t growing back, well, that’s when things start to get a bit hairy.
The thing is, when it comes to hair loss there are so many potential triggers, which means it can be tricky to pinpoint the exact reason why your strands are falling out, and henceforth, how to remedy the situation.
A number of factors can increase your risk of hair loss, including:
- A family history of balding on your mother’s or father’s side
- Significant weight loss
- Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and lupus
- Poor nutrition
Family history (heredity)
The most common cause of hair loss is a hereditary condition that happens with aging. This condition is called androgenic alopecia, male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. It usually occurs gradually and in predictable patterns — a receding hairline and bald spots in men and thinning hair along the crown of the scalp in women.
You’re on Certain Meds
Take another look at the side effects of the drugs you’re taking — hair loss may be on the list. Examples of such meds include blood thinners, acne medications high in vitamin A, anabolic steroids, or medications for arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems, or high blood pressure.
Women may lose hair following childbirth or while in menopause. Women who have hormonal imbalances can have hair loss.
Aside from genetic male pattern baldness, men can lose hair as their hormonal composition changes with age. Hair loss is caused by your follicles’ response to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Wearing styles that pull on the scalp, like tight buns or ponytails, cause traction alopecia. This happens because constant pulling on the hair can cause hair breakages as well as inflammation and scarring.
Traction alopecia can sometimes result in permanent hair loss through destruction of the hair follicle, says Strachan.
How to fix it:
To prevent further damage and hair loss, try out different hairstyles that are easier on the scalp and avoid using chemicals on your hair.
Stress can trigger telogen effluvium. But it typically takes a major stressor, like divorce or the death of a loved one (a big work deadline or a blind date probably isn’t enough to make your strands say sayonara).
Iron deficiency/anemia hair loss
“One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is an iron deficiency. Iron is essential for producing hair cell protein”, without it, your strands will suffer says Anabel. If in doubt, it’s best to speak to your GP for advice regarding an iron deficiency, as they may recommend a blood test to confirm the correct treatment.
You Don’t Get Enough Protein
A body low on protein finds a way to conserve where it can, and that includes halting hair growth. About 2 to 3 months after that, hair starts to fall out. Adding more meat, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, and beans to your meals can pack more protein into your diet.
Perhaps one of the most common hormone-related causes for hair loss is a thyroid problem. Both too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) and too little (hypothyroidism) can lead to hair loss. Treating the thyroid disorder can often reverse the hair loss.
Hair loss treatment
Worried about hair loss? The best thing to do is mention it to your doctor.
Excessive shedding usually stops on its own, especially if it’s caused by stress or fever. But your doctor can check for underlying problems like thyroid disorders or nutrient deficiencies. Treating those problems will reverse the hair loss.
Treatments can help excessive shedding and alopecia. Some options include:
- Topical products like minoxidil (Rogaine®).
- Laser caps to stimulate hair growth.
- Medications to target the hormones that can drive hair loss.
- In-office treatments to regrow hair, such as platelet-rich plasma therapy.
“It’s important to have a discussion with your doctor to find the right treatment,” says Dr. Khetarpal. And in the case of alopecia, the sooner you start, the better. “The longer the hair is gone, the harder it is to get back,” she says.