Common Causes of Hair Loss in Men and Women
Every day, it is natural for around 100 hairs to fall out. But if you’ve noticed that you’re losing more hair than usual or have begun to show thinning or balding hair, it can cause anxiety and concern.
The most common type of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or male and female pattern baldness, but there are many other causes. Some sorts of hair loss can be permanent, other types are temporary and are brought on by a variety of reasons, such as illness or stress.
If you have been experiencing increasing hair loss, you may be wondering what’s going on.
We’re going to dive in to the most common causes of hair loss, what to look out for, and what you can do about it.
1. Genetics (Androgenetic Alopecia or Male / Female Pattern Baldness)
Does either of your parents suffer from hair thinning or baldness? Genetics pays a huge part in this type of hair loss. Although it may seem more associated with men, it is actually extremely common in women too.
In males, a gradual receding hairline or hair loss on the crown can start reasonably early in adult life – usually in their 20s, but sometimes as early as their teenage years. For females, hair tends to get generally thinner all over the scalp and usually occurs in their 40s.
So, what exactly is going on with this type of hair loss? Basically, it is all to do with levels of a hormone, DHT. It causes hair follicles to shrink, meaning hair gets thinner and eventually stops growing altogether.
There is a myth that male pattern baldness is inherited from the grandfather on the maternal side. However, this is completely untrue – both maternal and paternal genetics will have a part.
Is there a treatment for this type of hair loss? Products containing minoxidil – a medication applied to the scalp – has been shown to help thicken hair and encourage growth. Always speak to your GP or pharmacist first, as certain medical conditions can interfere with its use.
2. Autoimmune Conditions
There are certain autoimmune conditions that can cause thinning hair or complete hair loss. These include chron’s disease, lupus, hashimotos and rheumatoid arthritis. In these instances, the immune system gets a little confused and begins to attack its own body, with hair follicles being affected.
Alopecia areata is another autoimmune condition where hair falls out in clumps, causing bald patches. Sometimes people can develop alopecia universalis where hair loss isn’t limited to the scalp but occurs all over the body, such as eyebrows, eyelashes, leg and arm hair.
Although there is no current cure, some people can respond to the use of corticosteroids. These act as powerful anti-inflammatories which can dampen the overactive immune response. Please consult your doctor if you think an autoimmune condition is the root cause of your hair loss.
It’s probably not hard to believe that stress is high up on the list of hair loss causes. Any sort of extreme stress – physical or emotional – can cause hair loss. This can include stress resulting from a virus, a divorce, grief or surgery.
Our bodies can be put through a lot and this can lead to a condition called telogen effluvium. Hair begins falling out faster than usual, sometimes in large clumps, as the usual hair growth cycle is disrupted. Naturally, this can cause distress if you are unaware of the cause.
Typically, telogen effluvium is temporary. Once you have recovered from the stressor, hair begins to grow back over the course of a few months. To support your body through times of stress and potentially reduce the hair loss, add in soothing practices such as meditation, gentle exercise and lots of rest. Who doesn’t love an afternoon nap?!
4. Post-partum Hair Loss
After childbirth, hormones are all over the place! The dramatic shift in hormone levels can cause hair to shed quite quickly. You may notice this when you brush or wash your hair.
During pregnancy, it is common for women to gain thicker hair due to rising oestrogen. Once you give birth, the levels of this hormone decrease and with that comes hair shedding: the extra hair that you gained during pregnancy starts to shed over a few months.
This type of hair loss is usually temporary and resolves within 6 months. Having a nourishing diet full of vitamins and minerals can give your body the energy it needs to maintain overall health, including loving those locks.
5. Too-tight Hairstyles
Whether it’s a braid, a bun or a ponytail, wearing these styles too tightly can cause traction alopecia. By pulling hair back too tightly, hair can break and can even cause inflammation of the hair follicles known as folliculitis.
Usually, this is a temporary condition – but only if you loosen your styles! If you don’t take this step to prevent further hair loss, the follicles become permanently damaged and hair regrowth doesn’t happen.
Consider switching up your hair styles every so often, alternating between tighter and looser styles. Just make sure not to pull your hair up too tightly when sporting braids or up-dos. If it hurts, loosen it up!
6. Under Nourishing Diet
Could your diet be to blame for hair loss? Hair growth requires a range of vitamins and minerals but if your diet is lacking in those it can result in slow hair growth.
Vitamins A-E and along with minerals zinc and iron support healthy hair follicles and including these in your diet can make a huge difference. They can keep the scalp moisturised, strengthen hair and prevent breakage, and protect hair against oxidative stress.
As you can see, there are a variety of causes of hair loss. If you are experiencing hair loss but are unsure as to why, it can feel overwhelming. But being aware of some of the causes can help you identify what could be at the root of your hair loss. Always make sure you have a chat with your doctor about any changes in hair growth that are causing you concern. Whatever the cause, there is always something you can do to make you move from worry to confidence.