7 Common Causes of Hair Loss

Close-up view of an individual’s head; the left side has close-cropped dark hair, while on the right side the hairline has receded from the person’s forehead and is thinning considerably.

Losing your hair at any age can be stressful, regardless of the cause. Hair loss is frequently associated with aging individuals. However, in addition to the 35 million men that suffer from hair loss, 21 million women also lose up to 80% of their hair by age 60. Infections or scalp disorders can also cause premature hair loss in children.

Hair loss can often leave those impacted looking for safe ways to promote hair growth and restore a healthy, full head of hair. The best way to implement a successful hair loss treatment strategy is to understand the possible causes behind premature hair loss. Multiple causes can accelerate the balding process and can be addressed individually in some cases.

1. Genetics

Family history is the most common factor of hair loss in adult men and women. Most people will experience thinning hair as a natural part of the aging process, typically beginning in their 20s or 30s. Women might also see noticeable hair loss after menopause.  Hereditary-pattern baldness in women is technically referred to as androgenetic alopecia, while genetic hair loss in men is often referred to as.

Despite the commonly-held belief that hereditary baldness comes from the mother’s side of the family, the most recent research suggests that both parents’ genes can contribute to the likelihood of genetic hair loss. Hereditary hair loss becomes more severe over time. The earlier you begin to see hair loss, the more pronounced it will eventually become if left untreated.

2. Diet & Nutrition

Diet and nutrition can be influential factors in causing hair loss in men and women. However, unlike your genetic makeup, you can control what you eat and your body’s daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. Deficiencies can result in thinning or shedding of hair if your body does not get enough nutrients to promote healthy hair growth.

Eggs contain protein, biotin, zinc, selenium, and other nutrients that promote hair growth. Berries, fatty fish, avocados, and some nuts and seeds are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that can also help to slow the hair loss process.

A sudden or dramatic reduction in caloric intake can deprive your hair of the essential proteins and vitamins it needs for continued healthy growth. Conversely, consuming higher than normal volumes of sugar, alcohol, or junk food can lead to increased hair loss.

3. Medical Conditions or Illness

Temporary or permanent hair loss can be a symptom or side effect of various medical conditions and illnesses. Treatment and restoration options depend on the condition being treated and your genetic makeup. Common conditions that can result in hair loss include:

  • Alopecia Areata: A common autoimmune disorder that impacts nearly 7 million people in the United States, alopecia areata can result in the loss of large hair patches in a few days. Extreme emotional or physical stress may be a contributing factor in some cases, though genetics is most likely the cause of premature hair loss from alopecia areata.
  • Graves’ Disease: Graves’ disease is a thyroid disorder that can inhibit new hair growth on your scalp and body. A hormone imbalance creates an overproduction of thyroid hormones that cause hair follicles to prematurely go into the hair growth cycle’s resting phase. Hair loss caused by thyroid disorders like Graves’ disease and thyroiditis is temporary, though it can take several months to see significant regrowth.
  • Lupus: An autoimmune disease that attacks your tissues and organs, lupus can result in inflammation in your joints, kidneys, heart, and lungs. In some cases, the condition can also lead to a gradual thinning out and loss of hair on your head and throughout your body. Most hair loss caused by lupus is temporary and will be restored with treatment for the disease.
  • Postpartum Hair Loss: Pregnancy hormones will prevent normal hair loss while you are pregnant. That is why pregnant women often enjoy full, thick hair until the baby is born. Unfortunately, your body will catch up after the little one is delivered and hormone levels return to normal. Postpartum hair loss is typically a temporary condition and your hair should be back to its pre-pregnancy state within several months.

4. Medications & Treatments

Medications that are effective at treating certain ailments and conditions can come with an unpleasant side effect of hair loss. Common blood pressure and cholesterol-controlling medication, blood thinners, steroids, and acne treatments can cause or hasten hair loss in men and women. Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are also suspected of causing hair loss, though there is not yet a scientific consensus on this.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments used to kill cancer cells can also damage healthy hair cells. Hair can begin to thin after a couple of weeks of chemotherapy and will continue to fall out after a month or two. Cancer patients that are taking multiple chemotherapy drugs are more likely to experience significant hair loss than those taking just one medication.

5. Stress

Extreme instances of emotional or physical stress can trigger sudden or gradual hair thinning and loss. A sudden job loss, career dissatisfaction, family or personal issues, or the compounding stresses of living in a big city can all act as contributing factors to unexpected hair loss. Hair loss resulting from stress is not necessarily permanent. If you are able to reduce the stress of your everyday life, lost hair can be restored over time.

6. Age

Nothing lasts forever. Regardless of how well a person takes care of their body, hereditary-based, age-related hair loss is a common, natural condition in men and women. Your hair typically begins to age in your 60s, although premature aging is possible due to a variety of health and lifestyle issues. Hair becomes thinner and it takes longer to regrow hair that falls out. The process is irreversible, though there is a wide range of products and treatments available that are designed to slow down and delay hereditary hair loss.

7. Hormone Imbalance

As women transition into menopause, they will experience a reduction in their production of estrogen, an essential hormone for healthy hair growth. Thyroid problems and autoimmune conditions are also examples of hormone imbalances that can lead to thinning hair and the beginning of the premature balding process in some women.

Hair Loss Solutions to Consider

If you’re interested in working against hair loss, there are several options that you might consider evaluating. 

  • Changing your diet to give your body more of the nutrients and vitamins needed to promote healthy hair growth can help to slow or delay hair loss. Eating more eggs, avocados, and other foods high in protein and vitamins will stimulate hair follicles and foster healthy hair growth cycles.
  • Reducing stress comes with a wide range of physical and mental health benefits, including the chance to reduce thinning and slow down the balding process.
  • Advanced surgical procedures like hair transplants can make the best use of the hair you have left by removing existing hair and transplanting it to balding areas. Low-level laser therapy can also be used to treat hereditary hair loss.

Hair loss restoration products clinically proven to stimulate hair follicle growth are used to help restore full heads of healthy hair. Industry research and development have made significant advances in the effectiveness of a variety of hair restoration treatments and products.

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