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Why Is My Hair Falling Out?

There can be a multitude of reasons why women will lose their hair. From hormone imbalances to certain drug therapies to everyday stressors. But no matter what the reason, having your hair fall out can be a scary experience, full of unknowns. One of the first steps in managing your hair loss or thinning is determining why it is happening. If your hair is falling out more rapidly than expected, here are 14 of the most common causes.

One of the most obvious reasons for hair loss is chemotherapy treatment due to cancer. When cancer strikes, it hits hard and comes with a myriad of emotions. Chemotherapy is a medical treatment that uses drugs to target rapidly dividing cells in the body, which is what cancer cells do. However, hair and skin cells are also rapidly dividing. This can cause your hair to fall out. The good news is, once the chemotherapy treatment is over, those rapidly dividing cells will typically regenerate, causing hair regrowth.

Simply stated, alopecia means hair loss. This loss can occur for various reasons, at various times and on different places on the body. Alopecia Areata is the sudden loss of hair that leaves patchy or sparse areas on the scalp. In about 90% of cases of Alopecia Areata, the hair grows back within several years. Another type of Alopecia is called Alopecia Universalis. This condition includes hair loss on all areas of the body and leaves no hair present. Traction alopecia is not a medical condition but occurs whenever certain hairstyles or hair accessories pull excessively on the hair, causing hair loss.

Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus can often cause thinning hair or hair loss. When the immune system is compromised, it becomes overactive and can attack cells that are typically healthy. The immune cells that attack the hair can cause a type of scarring, which unfortunately means the hair loss is permanent and new strands will not grow in back in place of lost ones.

This disorder causes people to compulsively pull hair from their body. The constant pulling can often damage the hair follicle causing hair around what is being pulled to fall out as well. This impulse control disorder often begins before the age of 17 and is four times as prevalent in women as in men. In most cases, once the disorder is treated and is under control, the hair will grow back.

5. Aging:

With the natural aging process, the hair begins to thin and fall out. Normally, hair falling out would be replaced with new hair growth, however, as we age this happens less and less. Hair can begin to fall out more and more and become brittle with age as well.

The use of certain medications can often have hair loss as a side effect. Your doctor may or may not mention this upon prescribing certain medications because every person's body reacts differently to different medications. The warning labels or pharmacy inserts will often list hair loss as a possible side effect for some medications. If your hair is falling out, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibility of switching medications or lowering your dosage.

Although it is not as common in the United States as in other parts of the world, a person deficient in Vitamin B can experience hair loss. Vitamin B supplements or a diet full of fish, meat, starchy vegetables and other foods high in Vitamin B can often help correct this issue.

Having an under active thyroid, or hypothyroidism, can cause hair loss. Hypothyroidism causes the thyroid to produce too few hormones which affects hair growth. Synthetic thyroid medication can solve the problem and your hair loss will most often reverse once the hypothyroidism is under control.

9. Anemia:

Iron helps to maintain healthy hair, skin and nails. When your body is not getting enough iron, the systems that iron helps to maintain begin to fail, which can cause hair to fall out. Anemia is a very common and highly curable condition. Once under control, hair growth should return to normal.

We all deal with some form of emotional stress at some point in our lives. However, for some people, hair loss will occur during these stressful times. Although it is not very common for emotional stress to actually cause the hair loss, stress can exacerbate an already existing hair loss condition. Emotional stress can cause a flare up of trichtotillomania and autoimmune diseases as well, attributing to even further hair loss.

Pregnancy, contraceptives, menopause, and hormone replacement therapies can all cause fluctuation in a woman's hormone levels which can cause hair loss. A derivative of the male hormone, testosterone, called Dihydrotestosterone, can become activated in the scalp when estrogen is reduced and can inhibit hair growth by minimizing the follicle. Heredity can also play a big part in female hair loss. If you come from a family where the women have experienced significant hair loss at a certain time in their lives, you too may experience a similar loss.

12. Protein Deficiency:

A lack of protein in your diet may be to blame for your hair falling out. Crash diets can often exclude protein, which is a vital part of hair growth. Without sufficient protein in your system, the body will send the hair follicles into the resting phase in order to save protein and energy. Increased hair shedding typically follows 2-3 months after a resting phase, causing a drastic loss of hair. With proper diet, this type of hair loss can be reversed.

13. Physical Trauma:

Any type of physical trauma can cause hair loss. Surgery, giving birth, a car accident, and severe illness can all cause temporary hair loss. A shock to the system can often push more hair from the growth phase or resting phase of the hair cycle into the shedding phase, causing hair loss to be most prevalent 3-6 months post-trauma.

14. Telogen Effluvium: 

This disorder occurs when an individual's hair thins or sheds due to a change or disruption in the hair growth cycle. People with Telogen Effluvium typically do not lose all of their hair, however hair loss can be visibly thin in severe cases. Telogen Effluvium is typically a temporary condition.

We've covered 14 different reasons for why your hair might be falling out. Did any of them strike a chord with you? Here are some additional resources to explore as you determine why your hair is falling out and what to do about it.

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Ms. Review by Why Is My Hair Falling Out?
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I have multiple chronic conditions that have caused my hair to thin and my scalp to be so inflamed I often have to shave my head to relieve it. Problem is I can't find a wig comfortable enough to wear, I'm beginning to wonder if there is such a thing. My head is not inflamed as long as I don't grow my hair out so I'd really like to find something, but everything is itchy. (Posted on 07/04/2022)

Why Is My Hair Falling Out?