It's normal for hair to fall out. We normally shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. However, sometimes other causes for losing our hair are at play. Depending on the cause, there may be things we can do about those thinning locks.
Stress may occur in our lives due to unhappy events such as divorce, raising difficult kids or from a prolonged illness such as the flu. This kind of hair loss occurs because hair growth is pushed into the shedding stage early.
This is called telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium typically occurs three to six months after the stressful event but hair should regrow after you have recovered.
Certain conditions where hormone levels are changing or imbalanced can lead to hair loss.
With polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), male hormones called androgens are elevated and can cause hair loss to occur on the scalp but increase hair growth on the body instead. Pregnancy, use of birth control pills and menopause also can also contribute to hair loss.
Hair growth may return after hormones return to normal levels though after menopause, women typically have thinner hair than they did when they were younger.
A number of medications can cause hair to fall out. Examples are blood thinners, blood pressure medications, steroids, antidepressants and cancer treatments. Check with your doctor to determine if any of these drugs could be contributing to your hair loss and whether you can change to other medications if they are.
There are a number of dietary reasons for hair loss. Not getting enough protein or iron can slow hair growth. Make sure you are getting enough of both in your diet.
Weight loss can also cause a period of hair loss, but hair growth will restart three to six months afterward. Recovery from hair loss due to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia may not occur until the person has developed a more healthy diet.
The thyroid produces hormones that are essential to proper growth and development. If a person has an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) they may experience hair loss. Proper treatment of thyroid hormones should help regrow your hair.
Female pattern hair loss, called androgenic or androgenetic alopecia, is basically the feminine version of male pattern baldness. The American Academy of Dermatology states that the first sign of hair loss for many women is a widening part. Look at your parents and grandparents to see if hair loss and thinning happened to them to help predict if you will be affected the same way.
Alopecia areata is an immune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles. A dermatologist can try and treat the areas with medications to return hair growth. Lupus also is an immune disease where the body’s immune cells attack the hair.
If scarring has occurred, then the hair will not likely grow back. New hairstyles may help camouflage bald areas.
Over-styling and poor hair care
Sometimes hair is damaged by being pulled too tightly with rubber bands or tight braids. Frequent uses of devices such as hair dryers and hot curling irons can put too much demand on our hair. Hair products such as bleaches and permanents can weaken hair and lead to breakage.
In general, treat your hair with care. Don’t shampoo it too frequently, always use conditioner and avoid combing or brushing your hair while it is wet.
21 reasons you're losing your hair. MSN health living. Retrieved Aug. 24, 2014.
Hair loss causes. Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved Aug. 24, 2014.
Hair loss: Who gets and causes. The American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved Aug. 24, 2014.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/499625/michele_blacksberg.html
Edited by Jody Smith