Why I’m I losing My Hair…

Below are some of the most popular reasons for hair loss.

Physical stress

Any kind of physical trauma—surgery, a car accident, or a severe illness, even the flu—can cause temporary hair loss. This can trigger a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. Hair has a programmed life cycle: a growth phase, rest phase and shedding phase. “When you have a really stressful event, it can shock the hair. Hair loss often becomes noticeable three-to-six months after the trauma.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one example of the type of physical stress that can cause hair loss (that and hormones). Pregnancy-related hair loss is seen more commonly after your baby has been delivered rather than actually during pregnancy. Giving birth is pretty traumatic.

Heredity

Female-pattern hair loss, called androgenic or androgenetic alopecia, is basically the female version of male pattern baldness. “If you come from a family where women started to have hair loss at a certain age, then you might be more prone to it. Unlike men, women don’t tend to have a receding hairline, instead their part may widen and they may have noticeable thinning of hair.

Female hormones

Just as pregnancy hormone changes can cause hair loss, so can switching or going off birth-control pills. This can also cause telogen effluvium, and it may be more likely if you have a family history of hair loss. The change in the hormonal balance that occurs at menopause may also have the same result. “The androgen (male hormone) receptors on the scalp becoming activated. The hair follicles will miniaturize and then you start to lose more hair.

What to do: If a new Rx is a problem, switch back or talk to your doctor about other birth control types. Stopping oral contraceptives can also sometimes cause hair loss, but this is temporary.

Emotional stress

Emotional stress is less likely to cause hair loss than physical stress, but it can happen, for instance, in the case of divorce, after the death of a loved one, or while caring for an aging parent. More often, though, emotional stress won’t actually precipitate the hair loss. It will exacerbate a problem that’s already there.

What to do: As with hair loss due to physical stress, this shedding will eventually abate. While it’s not known if reducing stress can help your hair, it can’t hurt either. Take steps to combat stress and anxiety, like getting more exercise, trying talk therapy, or getting more support if you need it.

Anemia

Almost one in 10 women aged 20 through 49 suffers from anemia due to an iron deficiency (the most common type of anemia), which is an easily fixable cause of hair loss. You doctor will have to do a blood test to determine for sure if you have this type of anemia.

What to do: A simple iron supplement should correct the problem. In addition to hair loss, other symptoms of anemia include fatigue, headache, dizziness, pale skin, and cold hands and feet.

Hypothyroidism

…is the medical term for having an underactive thyroid gland. This little gland located in your neck produces hormones that are critical to metabolism as well as growth and development and, when it’s not pumping out enough hormones, can contribute to hair loss. Your doctor can do tests to determine the real cause

What to do: Synthetic thyroid medication will take care of the problem. Once your thyroid levels return to normal, so should your hair.

Autoimmune-related hair loss

…is the medical term for having an underactive thyroid gland. This little gland located in your neck produces hormones that are critical to metabolism as well as growth and development and, when it’s not pumping out enough hormones, can contribute to hair loss. Your doctor can do tests to determine the real cause

What to do: Synthetic thyroid medication will take care of the problem. Once your thyroid levels return to normal, so should your hair.

Lupus

Other autoimmune diseases such as lupus can also cause hair loss. Again it’s a case of mistaken identity: overzealous immune cells attack the hair. Unfortunately, hair loss of this type is “scarring,” meaning the hair will not grow back.

Dramatic weight loss

Sudden weight loss is a form of physical trauma that can result in thinning hair. This could happen even if the weight loss is ultimately good for you. It’s possible that the weight loss itself is stressing your body or that not eating right can result in vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Loss of hair along with noticeable weight loss may also be a sign of an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

What to do: Sudden weight loss seems to shock the system and you’ll have a six-month period of hair loss and then it corrects itself.

Chemotherapy

Some of the drugs used to beat back cancer unfortunately can also cause your hair to fall out. It destroys rapidly dividing cells. That means cancer cells, but also rapidly dividing cells like hair.

What to do: Once chemotherapy is stopped, your hair will grow back although often it will come back with a different texture (perhaps curly when before it was straight) or a different color.

Antidepressants, blood thinners, and more

Certain other classes of medication may also promote hair loss. More common among them are certain blood thinners and the blood-pressure drugs known as beta-blockers. Other drugs that might cause hair loss include methotrexate (used to treat rheumatic conditions and some skin conditions), lithium (for bipolar disorder), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen, and possibly antidepressants.

What to do: If your doctor determines that one or more of your medications is causing hair loss, talk with him or her about either lowering the dose or switching to another medicine.

Overstyling

Vigorous styling and hair treatments over the years can cause your hair to fall out. Examples of extreme styling include tight braids, hair weaves or corn rows as well as chemical relaxers to straighten your hair, hot-oil treatments or any kind of harsh chemical or high heat. Because these practices can actually affect the hair root, your hair might not grow back.

What to do: In addition to avoiding these styles and treatments, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using conditioner after every shampoo, letting your hair air dry, limiting the amount of time the curling iron comes in contact with your hair and using heat-driven products no more than once a week.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania, classified as an “impulse control disorder,” causes people to compulsively pull their hair out. “It’s sort of like a tic, the person is constantly playing and pulling their hair,” Unfortunately, this constant playing and pulling can actually strip your head of its natural protection: hair. Trichotillomania often begins before the age of 17 and is four times as common in women as in men.

What to do: Some antidepressants may be effective, but behavioral modification therapy is another option.

Aging

It’s not uncommon to see hair loss or thinning of the hair in women as they enter their 50s and 60s. Experts aren’t sure why this happens.

Anabolic steroids

If you take anabolic steroids—the type abused by some athletes to bulk up muscle—you could lose your hair, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Anabolic steroids can have the same impact on the body as polycystic ovary disease (PCOS), as the mechanism is the same.

What to do: This should improve after going off the drug.

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