Have you noticed handfuls of hair coming out of your head? Or maybe your hairline slowly creeping away? Hair loss is no laughing matter. And it doesn’t just happen to men. Women can lose their hair just as often and for the same reasons as men do.
The causes of hair loss are numerous and varied. Some of them are preventable and under your control, while others are not. So let’s take a look at the top five common causes of hair loss and what you can expect from each. Then we’ll look at a few other causes.
5 Common Causes of Hair Loss
1 Iron deficiency
A lab test for serum ferritin (iron in the blood) can help identify iron deficiency that’s causing hair loss. Ferritin below 90 is not optimal because it limits the oxygen available to your cells, and hair cells need oxygen to grow.
Is regrowth possible? A course of oral iron supplements – alongside vitamin C to increase absorption – gives you the best chance of avoiding further loss.
2 Inherited androgen sensitivity
This is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. If you have androgenic alopecia, then you’ve inherited genes from your parents that cause your hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop growing hair. Most of us, of course, know this condition as male-pattern baldness or female-pattern hair loss.
Hair follicles can start shrinking early, but the condition usually starts later in life. The first sign of hereditary hair loss in women is often an overall thinning or a widening part. For men, the first sign is a receding hairline or bald spot at the top of the head.
Is regrowth possible? Yes. There are natural and prescriptive DHT blockers (because DHT is the primary culprit!), and these will help both men and women. Treatment can stop or slow your hair loss and even regrow hair. However, the sooner treatment is started, the better it works.
3 Hormonal imbalance
A temporary imbalance in hormones can cause hair loss. This can be a result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menopause, and stopping birth control, for example.
Is regrowth possible? Sometimes. A course of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) may help. Your practitioner will run labs and agree a personalized course of BHRT that matches your specific hormonal needs. This increases the possibility of successful regrowth.
Stress can cause telogen effluvium (as well as alopecia areata and hair pulling – see below). Sources of stress that affect hair loss may include childbirth, illness, or other stressors like undergoing surgery, or ongoing work and relationship problems.
If stress is at play, you may notice a lot more stray hairs in your brush or on your pillow a few months after giving birth, recovering from an illness, or having an operation. This type of hair loss can also result during and after any stressful time in your life, such as a divorce or death of a loved one.
Is regrowth possible? Yes. When the stress stops, the excessive shedding will stop. Your hair should regain its normal fullness within 6 to 9 months.
5 Thyroid problems (either low or high thyroid levels)
Problems with your thyroid, can cause your hair to thin or come out in clumps when you brush it.
Is regrowth possible? Yes. Treating the thyroid disease can help regrow your hair.
What Else Can Cause Hair Loss?
These are not in the top five, but they may explain your own hair loss if the top five don’t seem to apply to you.
Alopecia areata can cause hair loss all over your body. It develops if your body’s immune system attacks its hair follicles.
Is regrowth possible? Yes. Sometimes hair grows back on its own. If it doesn’t, treatment may help stimulate regrowth.
Chemotherapy or radiation treatment to your head or neck can cause you to lose your hair within a few weeks of starting treatment.
Is regrowth possible? Yes. Hair usually starts growing back within months of finishing chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
Coloring, perming, or relaxing your hair could be damaging it. In addition, wearing a hairstyle that pulls on your scalp will start to damage it too. Over time, this damage can lead to hair loss.
Is regrowth possible? Once you damage a hair follicle, it will no longer grow hair. The problem for you, in visual terms, is that many damaged hair follicles clumped together create permanent bald spots. So it’s best to bear these points in mind when choosing how you style your hair on a regular basis.
A scalp infection can lead to scaly and inflamed areas on your scalp that look like small black dots. These dots are stubs of hair that can develop into a bald spot.
Is regrowth possible? Yes. Once the infection has been treated, hair can regrow.
Some medications can cause hair loss as a side effect. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of your medications and whether or not they could be causing you to lose your hair.
Is regrowth possible? Yes.
If you have plaque psoriasis, you may also develop psoriasis on your scalp, which can lead to hair loss.
Is regrowth possible? Once the scalp psoriasis clears, hair should regrow. But it takes time.
Pulling your hair
Do you pull on your hair to relieve stress? (No one would blame you during a pandemic!) But if you do, you can damage your hair follicles. Even if you aren’t aware that you’re pulling your hair (trichotillomania) the results will be the same.
Is regrowth possible? Yes. But only if you haven’t destroyed your hair follicles. If you want your hair to grow back, then you have to stop pulling it. You may need to seek treatment if you can’t do this on your own.
This shows up more as focal patches of hair loss. You need to ask for help because if you address it quickly, you can prevent permanent scarring.
Is regrowth possible? Yes, usually. However, if it’s caused by ringworm, for instance, the fungal infection (and hair loss) will spread until your practitioner helps you cure it. With average hair growth, you may have to wait weeks or months for the hair growth cycle to restart and flourish.
What Happens if Your Hair Isn’t Growing Back?
As we’ve seen above, depending on what causes it, your hair loss may be permanent. Moreover, even if it’s not permanent, it may grow back in patches or be thinner than it used to be.
However, if you want your hair to return you have options. Many of these options, like hair transplant surgery, are painful, tedious, and expensive. Other treatments can make big promises with no results.
You need, therefore, to consult a professional with advanced lab and diagnostic testing services to be sure you’re getting the solution that’s right for you.
Are you ready to have a head of healthy, beautiful hair again? Contact us for solutions!