Losing Your Hair? Hair Loss Causes And Prevention Methods
The truth is that when it comes to hair loss and thinning hair, the list of possible causes for hair loss is impossibly long. There are so many hair loss causes – genetics, hormonal imbalance, diet, hair products, to name a few. The list is long and that’s why it can be difficult to find the core reason for hair loss, not to mention a possible treatment for your hair loss and thinning hair, one that suits you specifically.
February, 01, 2020
Louise previously worked as a hair dresser but chose to pursue a different career path after some years.
Today, Louise works as a freelance beauty editor with an educational background from the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Copenhagen.Read more about the author.
I’ve experienced hair loss at times, both when I’ve shed more hair than usual but also times when my scalp has been itchy and dried out. For me, the main reason for hair loss has been that I’ve been very busy and not eaten properly and that I’ve cut corners when it came to proper daily hair care. After long periods of recurring hair loss, I finally nailed down some routines that got my hair loss under control and back on track. But I know how important healthy hair is for self-esteem and how far we will go to find a treatment for hair loss.
With that said, it’s important that you know the causes of hair loss before you find the best possible treatment for hair loss.
It’s true that men are more likely to lose their hair than women are. But in fact hair loss occurs in both sexes. If you shed hairs once in a while, that’s perfectly normal. Hair shedding is a necessary part of the hair growth cycle. But what if you start shedding unusually much and you lose more hair than you usually do? Well, there might be cause for concern, and it’s most definitely something you should ask your doctor to have a look at.
You lose an estimated 30-150 hairs a day. That’s part of the hair’s natural growth cycle and in theory there’s always new hair strands ready to replace the ones that were shed. So if you’re losing a bit of hair, no worries.
There are, however, multiple causes of hair loss, some more common than others. Most people know that hair loss can be related to stress, but there are also other reasons for hair loss, which can all be prevented and treated. Do you know the most common causes of hair loss? If not, then read on below.
Losing your hair might show like 1) a sudden hair loss, or 2) a gradual hair loss. This means whether your hair loss happens all of a sudden or step by step over time (often years). Hair loss isn’t restricted to loss of head hair but can also entail loss of other body hair.
Gradual thinning at the crown: This is the most common hair loss in both men and women. This type of hair loss occurs at all ages. In men, hair loss and thinning hair most commonly begins at the crown of the head and the temples, and gradually the hairline forms an “M”. This is what’s called a receding hairline.
In women, hair loss occurs as a more uniform thinning of hair across the scalp, and a receding hairline is rarely seen.
Patchy hair loss: Some people experience hair loss that occurs in smooth, bald spots. Normally, this type of hair loss only affects the scalp, but it sometimes also occurs in beards or eye brows. In some cases, your skin can become itchy or sore before the onset of visible hair loss.
Sudden hair loss: Do you feel like you’re losing hair all of a sudden? Sudden hair loss can be caused by physical or emotional shock, or after extreme stress. Before we go into detail, let it suffice to say that sudden hair loss is often associated with stress.
Red, itchy spots on the scalp: This could be a sign of a fungal infection in the scalp, such as ringworm. This type of hair loss causes red, itchy spots on the scalp and subsequent hair loss in that particular area. This type of hair loss is most common in children and can be accompanied by redness, swelling, and sometimes soreness and stinging.
What Causes Hair Loss?
The most common causes of hair loss is genetics, and this type of hair loss is gender specific, which means that both men and women can carry the genes for hereditary hair loss. If your family has a history of hair loss, such as your parents or grandparents having lost their hair, it might mean that you are more genetically sensitive to losing your hair. Certain sex hormones can trigger genetic hair loss, and hair thinning and gradual hair loss might even start during early puberty.
Other risk factors that might increase your risk of losing hair are:
Changes in diet, or considerable weight loss
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and lupus
In some cases, hair loss occurs suddenly and this is due to an imbalance in the hair’s life cycle. Severe illness, surgery, stress or trauma can trigger a sudden hair loss. Unlike hereditary hair loss, a gradual hair loss due to, for instance, stress or illness, won’t be permanent, and over time, the hair will start to grow normally again, often after approx. 3 months after the cause of the problem – the stress, surgery or illness – is over.
Hormonal imbalance can cause temporary hair loss:
Hair loss after pregnancy
Stopping birth control pills
Below I talk in-depth about the 6 most common causes of hair loss:
1) Hair loss Related to Stress
Hair loss is often related to stress, which is a significant cause of hair loss in both men and women. Neither stress, nor hair loss needs to be permanent. If you get your stress under control, you’ll see that after a while, your hair will start to return to its healthy state.
Stress causes a hormonal imbalance in the body. Maybe you’ve heard about cortisol? Cortisol is a hormone often associated with stress. When we’re stressed and find ourselves in stressed situations, the body releases the hormone cortisol, which causes us to function differently both mentally and physically, just like when you experience other hormonal effects or imbalances and are stressed. We remain in this state until the cortisol level has been rebalanced. This can take minutes, hours, days, weeks or months, and it completely depends upon the level and severity of stress.
What you can do: Stress affects the whole body. Losing your hair is far from the only side effect of stress, but merely one among many. If you suspect that your hair loss is due to stress, the best solution is to try and change your everyday life and bring down your level of stress, but that’s easier said than done. It often seems impossible to make major changes to your life, but it is necessary if your hair loss is stress-related.
There are two types of causes of hair loss, which might be caused by high levels of stress:
Hair Loss Related to Stress: Telogen effluvium
Telogen effluvium is a state in which the hair remains in the telogen phase (the resting phase) of the growth cycle. Approx. 6-8 % of your hairs are normally in this phase. So when more than the 6-8 % hibernate, it means that the hair stops its natural growth and in the end breaks off from the scalp. That’s why you might experience an increased hair loss for a short duration of time.
Hair Loss Related to Stress: Alopecia areata
Alopecia Areata is a condition, which makes the hair fall out in small, smooth patches. The condition develops when the immune system attacks the follicles, which causes hair loss. A variety of factors are said to cause this type of hair loss, and one of them is stress.
Genetic hair loss is cause known as androgenic alopecia and is considered one of the most common causes of thinning hair and hair loss in men. The condition is passed down from either your mum or your dad’s side of the family, and the risk of getting the condition is increased if both your parents have experienced hair loss. Hereditary hair loss also occurs in women. In women there is a tendency for hair thinning at the crown, whereas androgenic alopecia in men is often characterised by a receding hairline and gradual baldness at the crown. Approx. 75 % of all men and 25 % of all women experience this kind of genetic hair loss, and it often starts in the early 20s.
What you can do: If you believe your hair loss is genetic, there is still good advice available and you can take preventive measures against your hair loss. Preventing hereditary hair loss includes good haircare products, proper hair hygiene, a healthy and active lifestyle, and a balanced diet. Further down in the post I talk more about my suggestions for preventing hair loss and hair thinning.
3) Your Thyroid and Hair Loss
The most common problems related to the thyroid gland is an abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid gland) involves an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones are responsible for your metabolism, pulse, and mood, and when your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones, it’s called hypothyroidism. If, on the other hand, your body produces too much thyroid hormone, it’s called hyperthyroidism. Thyroid hormones are responsible for everything from the fundamental metabolic processes that make oxygen and energy work in your body, to the growth of your hair, skin, and nails. So sudden hair loss can and should cause concern.
What you can do: If you believe your hair loss is due to hypothyroidism, I recommend you see your doctor and get a professional assessment of your problem and find the reason for hair loss.
4) Vitamin Deficiency Causing Hair Loss
The hair follicles and hair strands mainly consist of a protein known as keratin. That’s why a diet rich in protein is important to maintain a healthy hair and avoid hair loss. Healthy sources of proteins in your diet include nuts, beans and peas, fish, low-fat dairy products, chicken, and turkey.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A is rich in retinoids, which have been shown to contribute to a healthy regulation of the production of sebum and that way keep the scalp healthy. An over- or underproduction of sebum and build-up of product residue in the scalp can damage hair roots and impede hair growth. So make sure you fill your plate with food rich in vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes, sweet bell peppers, and spinach. And remember the good, organic shampoo, which can’t accumulate in the hair. That way you minimise the risk of hair loss caused by product gunk and an imbalance in sebum production.
Too little zinc can be a common cause of hair loss and hair thinning in women and men. Studies of nutritional deficiencies show that zinc is one of the minerals most people lack, and these studies also show that especially zinc deficiency can cause premature hair loss and thinning of hair.
Zinc is responsible for the regeneration of skin and hair cells, because it interferes with certain enzymatic functions in the body. To make sure you get the optimal amount of zinc, you need to take a dietary supplement – preferably one that is specifically for hair and contains the specific nutrients that scalp and follicles need. It’s also recommended that you eat more food items rich in zinc, such as nuts, seeds, oysters, eggs, lentils.
Vitamin B Deficiency
Vitamin B deficiency – especially biotin – can be crucial for hair growth and health. Apart from your diet, vitamin B deficiency can be caused by smoking, liver disease or pregnancy.
To prevent hair loss caused by vitamin B deficiency, you should supplement your diet with food items, which are particularly rich in vitamin B. Food items that are particularly rich in vitamin B include: egg, beef, chicken, avocado, legumes, nuts, and potatoes. Read more about vitamin B complex and what biotin for hair can do.
All-In-One Dietary Supplement For Hair Loss
To ensure you get the essential nutrients you need, I recommend you buy a dietary supplement for hair to supplement a healthy diet. Such a supplement covers all the important vitamins you need to maintain your hair in the best possible way, in concentrated form. Personally, I use a dietary supplement to prevent hair loss and nurture the hair from within. I recommend HairLust dietary supplement, which is rich in vitamin B complex but also a range of other good vitamins and minerals.
Before and After Pictures of Customers Using HairLust Vitamins for Hair
Individual results may vary. Visible results usually appear after 2-4 months of use.
5) Alopecia Areata And Hair Loss
If your hair loss shows itself as bald patches on the scalp, eye brows or legs, you might have a condition called alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the follicles. Alopecia areata is a cause of hair loss that might be triggered by sudden or acute stress, physical trauma or disease, virus, eczema, and allergy. In women, alopecia areata can occur when the hormones change, for instance during menopause or early puberty. But this type of hair loss occurs just as frequently in men as in women, and certain people are more at risk. The cause of hair loss might be hereditary or a certain type of eczema.
If you experience sudden, sporadic hair loss and bald spots, I recommend you see your doctor, because you might need medical treatment.
6) Hair Care Routines Causing Hair Loss
Last, but not least, the result of using haircare products is one of the most common causes for hair loss. Washing your hair too much, overusing styling products, chemical treatments, and using hot tools can have a significant impact on your hair’s health, and be the main reason for hair loss. A lot of the things and routines we commonly associate with good haircare actually do more harm than good.
Are you exposing your hair to heat and chemicals? In that case, you’re at a high risk of losing your hair or weakening it so much that it breaks off.
“I always recommend my clients to remember both inner and outer hair care if they want to grow long hair."
Hair stylist and beautician
Hair Care Tips
1. Try to avoid heating tools that cause heat damage to your hair. The best thing you can do is to leave the blow dryer in the closet and let your hair air-dry without heat. If you absolutely have to blow dry your hair, invest in a proper blow dryer that has cool settings and low settings. Completely avoid straighteners and curling irons if you want to minimise hair loss and split ends.
2. Don’t dye your hair more than one or two shades from your normal hair colour. The more markedly the change in colour, the more chemicals you need. A good tip is to actually just embrace your natural hair colour and completely avoid damaging your hair with chemical colour treatments.
3. Frequent hair wash. Washing your hair too often can cause an imbalance in the scalp’s sebum production or cause the scalp to dry out. Likewise, washing your hair too rarely increases the risk of fungal infections or scalp infections. To avoid thin hair and hair loss, try to balance your haircare routines. For most people, washing your hair 2-3 times a week is sufficient. Many haircare products contain harsh chemicals, which can cause hair loss. SLS and SLES sulphates are found in many shampoos and should be avoided. The key is to use a mild shampoo with ingredients rich in protein, and preferably a sulphate free shampoo (SLS/SLES). Harsher formulations can dry out hair and scalp.
4. Remember conditioner! It’s equally important to finish off with a conditioner every time you wash your hair with shampoo. Conditioner seals off the hair with an outer, protective layer and provides good nourishment and moisture for the hair after washing.
5. Remember to moisture your hair. A good idea is to supplement your haircare with a proper, moisturising hair mask at least once a week, and maybe even provide an extra, daily moisture boost by using a hair oil for the ends. A weekly, organic hair mask can prevent damaged hair and hair loss caused by lack of moisture.
6. Be careful with wet hair. Wet hair is way more exposed and elastic than dry hair, which means it stretches more than dry hair. Go easy on wet hair and try not to pull or tear at it. I recommend you use a Wet Brush for wet hair, which is particularly gentle. The same goes for towel-drying your hair. Use a turban towel made from bamboo fibres, which is incredibly soft, gentle, and fast-absorbing.
7. Be careful with tight hairstyles, because they pull the hair at the root and can potentially cause hair loss.
During pregnancy increased levels of oestrogen affect the hair’s natural growth cycle, and this might cause some women to actually lose less hair when pregnant. Most women, however, find that their hair, which had only recently been so beautiful and thick, all of a sudden falls off and becomes dry and dull after pregnancy and breast feeding. But some also experience hair loss or thinning hair during pregnancy. Read this post where I go over everything you should know about hair loss and hair loss after pregnancy.
How to Stop Hair Loss
1) Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub
Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. A weekly scalp scrub is an excellent way to stimulate the blood circulation in the scalp and in that way an effective, preventive treatment of hair loss and thinning hair. Additionally, a scalp scrub contributes to the removal of grime, sebum, and build-up product residue in the scalp, which can be a direct cause of hair loss. While you’re at it, supplement with a bit of scalp massage and work the product into the scalp for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly and then wash your hair and scalp with shampoo before finishing off with a moisturising conditioner.
2) Scalp Follicle Treatment & Volumizer
Did you know that wax, volume powder, hair spray etc. can cause hair loss? The products themselves might seem harmless. But in fact, chemical haircare products can accumulate in the scalp and contribute to that the scalp loses its natural oils and has problems breathing. This is bad, especially if you want to avoid losing hair. I recommend that you look for alternatives that still provide volume and hold. This product from HairLust, which is called Scalp Follicle Treatment & Volumizer, is a nurturing scalp serum that besides providing the scalp with good, nourishing nutrients also gives the hair a gentle and natural lift completely without leaving the scalp itchy and distressed from product build-up.
As mentioned earlier, certain vitamins and minerals have a positive effect on normalisation of the hair’s growth cycle. But if you’re anything like me, you sometimes forget to get enough good vitamins from a healthy and balanced diet. Or if you just want to make sure you get enough vitamin B, a dietary hair growth supplement might be the right thing for you. That way you ensure you get all the nutritious vitamins through your diet and contribute to healthy hair from within by preventing hair loss due to vitamin deficiency. Vitamin deficiency is especially related to hair loss, thinning hair, and stress because you don’t get sufficient nutrition or sleep when you are stressed.
I hope that by now you feel you know more about thinning hair, hair loss, and possible causes of hair loss. If you have any questions or good advice about preventive treatment of hair loss, don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below, and we'll together try to figure out the reasons for hair loss.
Louise previously worked as a hair dresser but chose to pursue a different career path after some years. Today, Louise works as a freelance beauty editor with an educational background from the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Copenhagen.