Hair loss is a common thing, especially as we age. While it can be embarrassing to lose hair, especially when we’re younger, hair loss is often just considered a natural part of life. But what causes hair loss, and can it be dangerous?

What Causes Hair Loss?

Hair loss has many causes, aside from aging. There are many ways people can lose their hair for younger people, including sudden loosening of the hair, patches of scaling on the scalp, male pattern baldness, and even circular or patchy bald spots. Outside of getting older, these kinds of hair loss are typical side effects of many underlying conditions.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest causes of hair loss and is responsible for three different types of hair loss. The first variety, telogen effluvium, pushes hair follicles into a resting state. Over several months, affected hairs may become loose on the head and fall out when brushing or washing hair. The second type of stress-related hair loss is trichotillomania, or the irresistible urge to pull hair from the scalp, eyelashes, or eyebrows. Unlike other types of stress-induced hair loss, trichotillomania is a symptom of anxiety-based disorders. The third type of hair loss caused by stress is alopecia areata. This condition is most often caused by a severely stressful event in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes are both a cause of hair loss and hair growth. For example, people who take estrogen supplements may experience loss or lightening of body hair over time, while people who take testosterone may experience body hair growth, especially around the face. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause or thyroid problems will often cause hair loss as well.

Medications

Some medications may cause hair loss, especially with drugs meant to treat conditions like cancer, arthritis, heart problems, gout, and high blood pressure. In addition, treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy may result in hair loss as well. In some cases, antidepressants may also cause hair loss for people.

Hair Products

Excessive use of hair products like dyes, perms, or other chemical treatments may result in hair loss over time as well. Hair may become coarse and brittle and fall out in patches over time. Additionally, hairstyles that rely on a well-defined part or feature pulled-back hair may cause hair loss over time as well. This hair loss is, in most cases, completely reversible with a little extra care.

 

Family History

Sometimes, hair loss just runs in the family. Known as androgenic alopecia, this type of hair loss is what causes male and female pattern baldness. Thus, it is most often predictable where hair loss or thinning will occur.

Poor Nutrition

Vitamin deficiencies may cause hair loss as well. Essential vitamins for building keratin and maintaining hair like vitamins D, B-12, C, and vitamin A are vital for hair growth. Low levels of minerals like copper, selenium, and biotin may cause hair loss and fats as well.

Other Medical Conditions

Other medical conditions-- especially autoimmune disorders-- may also cause hair loss. Lupus, for example, is most often associated with hair loss as one of its symptoms. With over 50% of lupus patients experiencing some form of hair loss, it is always best to speak with your doctor regarding sudden, excessive hair loss over time.

Why do we Lose Hair When we Age?

When we age, hair loss and color changes are expected. This is because the body’s growth patterns are slowing down, and proteins that make up our hair and nails aren’t produced as often.

 

If you or a loved one is experiencing sudden hair loss and are unsure of its cause, speak with a doctor if possible.

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