As we age, we begin to ask ourselves what are the root causes of hair loss, and how do I fix it? It is impossible to count the number of hairs on your head. It is even more impossible to count the number of hairs that you are losing every day. You might have noticed thinning of your hair around specific areas or worse losing your hair in chunks every time you run a comb through it.
Some of the most common causes of hair loss are due to factors such as genetics, age, and the bodies overall health. Although hair loss is more common in men than women, it still has a physical and emotional toll on those that experience the effects.
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that over 80 million Americans suffer from alopecia or what is more commonly known as hereditary hair loss. Hair loss can affect more than just the hairs on your head. It can affect other areas of your body as well, including your arms and legs.
Typically hair loss doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a gradual process that develops over a person’s lifetime. Hair loss can be permanent or temporary based on what factors the body is undergoing.
How Do I Know If I Have A Hair Loss Condition
So what are the causes of hair loss? Although hair loss typically affects more men than women, anyone can experience hair loss. Hair loss can be triggered by a number of different factors, including hormones, heredity, age, one’s environment, or side effects of medication.
Typically hair loss is referred to as excessive thinning of hair from a particular area of the body. The most common area affected is on the scalp itself. Although hair loss can appear in many different ways, the most common cause of hair loss is age.
Some of the most common symptoms to look out for to determine if you have a hair loss condition are:
1) Gradual thinning of hair on top of the head:
This is the most common form of hair loss. Men will typically begin to notice this symptom as their hair recedes from their hairline in the shape of an “M.” Women usually start to see this symptom when their hair begins to broaden on their natural hairline.
2) Patch/circular bald spots:
This type of hair loss affects just the scalp. The most common way to identify this type of hair loss is if you begin to see smooth coin-sized spots appear all over your scalp. In some cases, the scalp might become red or itchy before the hair falls out. If your scalp does become irritated, we recommend consulting with your doctor.
3) Sudden hair loss:
Often the hardest to deal with on an emotional level, sudden hair loss usually causes overall thinning of the hair. It does not cause patchy spots on the scalp. This type of hair loss is most commonly diagnosed when hair comes out when combing, washing, or gently tugging on the hair follicles.
4) Full-body hair loss:
This type of hair loss is most commonly caused as a side effect of medication and other medical treatments such as chemotherapy. Typically, in this case, the hair will eventually grow back.
11 Causes Of Hair Loss & How To Fix Them
1) Lack Of Protein
A common cause of hair loss that most people might not think of is their diet. If your body is not getting enough protein to generate the essential nutrients, you need for thick healthy hair than your body might be shutting out hair growth to compensate for what it is missing.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this can happen over the course of about two to three months after a drop in an individuals protein intake. Our recommendation is to consult your doctor or a nutritionist about your diet and look for some healthy sources of protein such as fish, meat, and eggs.
2) Male Pattern Baldness (Heredity)
Also called androgenic alopecia, male pattern baldness is one if not the most common causes of hair loss experienced by men. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, more than 50% of all men over the age of 50 will be affected by male pattern baldness to some extent. Male pattern baldness follows a classic pattern in which the hair recedes from the temples in the shape of an “M.”
A combination of genetics and hormones most commonly causes this type of hair loss. Often called female pattern baldness, the same symptoms of male pattern baldness can also affect females. Over the counter, topical treats and oral medication can be used to delay the effects of male pattern baldness or even be used to regrow the hair in some cases.
Hair transplant surgery is an option used by many to treat cases of hair loss.
3) Side-Effects From Medication
If you have ever heard an infomercial on T.V for medication that you have more than likely heard hair loss as a common side-effect, blood-thinners, chemotherapy, oral contraceptives, calcium channel blockers, and medicines for depression are some common medications that list hair loss as a possible side-effect.
Although you may be experiencing hair loss during the duration of taking certain medications, in most cases, your hair will usually grow back once you stop taking the medication that is causing the hair loss.
Always speak to your doctor if you believe this is the reason for your hair loss.
4) Dramatic Weight Loss
Sudden weight loss can be a form of physical trauma to the body even if it is ultimately needed to maintain an individual’s overall health. It is possible that the body is going into temporary shock, which is caused by the sudden loss in weight.
Although sudden weight loss may shock the body initially causing hair loss, after around six months, the body will revert to its natural state, and your hair will begin to regrow itself.
The body can also be deprived of the nutrients that it needs to maintain overall hair health. This is most commonly seen in cases of anorexia or bulimia.
5) Too Much Vitamin A Intake
Over consuming vitamin A, either in the form of a supplement or food intake, can trigger hair loss. The recommended Daily Value of vitamin A from the American Academy of Dermatology is 5,000 International Units (IU) per day for adults. Typical supplements contain anywhere from 2,500-10,000 IU’s.
If you are taking a vitamin A supplement, we recommend taking a closer look at how many IU of vitamin A you are consuming to double check if you are overdoing it on your recommended daily amount.
When returning to a healthy IU amount hair should return to its normal state, and any damage done by hair loss should be fully recoverable.
Like genetics, stress is a very common cause of hair loss. Any physical or emotional stress such as the sudden death of a loved one, car crash, divorce, or severe illness can cause hair loss. Typically, hair loss caused by stress can be seen three-to-six months after the start of the stressor in your life.
The good news about this type of hair loss is that when the root cause of the stress is removed from your life, your body will begin to recover and hair will naturally start to grow back.
On the list of probable causes of hair loss is Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is caused by having an underactive thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is a small gland located in your neck that produces hormones that are critical to metabolism as well as the bodies growth and development. When the thyroid is not producing through hormones, it can cause hair loss.
The only way to diagnose if this is the cause of your hair loss is to see your doctor so they can do the proper tests.
Thyroid medication should take care of the problem, and hair will return to its normal state when your thyroid levels return to normal.
8) Vitamin B Deficiency
Although vitamin B deficiency is not commonly seen in the U.S. due to the overall diet of most Americans, it is a common cause of hair loss. Hair requires a mix of vitamins and minerals to be able to maintain it’s overall health. Vitamin B is vital in creating cell division, red cell production, and maintaining a healthy metabolism in your body.
If your body is experiencing a lack of vitamin b in your diet, it could be the rut cause of your hair loss problems.
We suggest looking into adding vitamin b rich food to your diets such as low-fat yogurt, wild trout, swiss cheese, and clams, to name a few.
9) Too Much Hair Styling
This cause of hair loss is more commonly seen in women than men but still could plague anyone depending on your daily hair routine. Without proper protection, adding heat and other harmful chemicals to your hair could result in hair loss and thinning of the hair.
Shampooing to frequently, repeatedly using hot tools, and pulling too much on the hair could all be a common reason why you see your hair start to thin.
If possible, try to limit hairs exposure to harmful styling treatments to prevent any further damage.
10) Natural Aging
Although it is not uncommon to notice hair become thinner as you age, doctors are not 100% quite sure of the real reason why so many experiences this probably. Some believe that it has to do with genetic factors while some believe it is just an inevitable factor of life.
Although it is seen as being at the top of the list of the most common causes of hair loss experienced by both men and women, it is the hardest to treat. Many experts believe that it is almost impossible to treat this type of hair loss without resorting to a cosmetic approach, such as hair transfer surgery.
11) Autoimmune Related
An overactive immune system, or alopecia areata, is when the body gets confused, the immune system sees the hair as a foreign object and begins to attack it instead causing hair loss. This type of hair loss is usually diagnosed by hair disappearing in smooth round patches on the scalp.
Steroid injections are usually the first line of treatment doctors resort to for treating an overactive immune system. This course of treatment can be unpredictable and may not cause hair to return to its natural state.
Conclusion: Causes of Hair Loss
Although some root causes of hair loss may be irreversible, many effects can be reversed with just a little bit of time. With as many as 85% of men experiencing the effects of hair loss over their lifetime no wonder, everyone is in such a rush to find the secret of preventing hair loss.
Here are a few tips that may help you prevent long-term hair loss:
- Avoid tightening the hair in braids, buns, or ponytails
- Avoid compulsively touching, rubbing, scratching, or tugging at your hair
- Gently brush your hair *Do not pull
- Avoid harsh chemical treatments and hot tool exposure as much as possible
- Stick to natural hair products
- Stop smoking or excessive drinking of alcohol
- Protect your hair from overexposure to sunlight and other UV lights
- Ask your doctor about the medications you take and if hair loss is a common side effect