Most people shed 50 to 150 hairs per day. The average scalp has about 100,00 hairs, so this doesn’t make a noticeable difference in your hair. The constant life cycle of your hair is composed of the growth phase, the resting phase, and the shedding phase which maintains a proper balance. Any disruption to this balance is what causes you to notice your hair may be thinning.
Whether your part is slowly widening or your hair seems to be thinning over time, it is important to consider the factors that can cause hair loss and treatments to mitigate them.
Physical Stress: Physical trauma ranging from a car accident to the flu can cause a type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. A stressful event can push more hair into the shedding phase of the life cycle, causing a noticeable loss of hair in the period of time occurring three to six months after the trauma. The good new is that as your body recovers, the hair will start growing back
Emotional Stress: While it is less likely to experience hair loss from emotional stress than it is due to physical stress, it can still cause hair loss or exacerbate another problem that is already there.
Pregnancy: Hair loss during and around the time of pregnancy can be attributed to a combination of hormonal changes and physical trauma as outlined above. In this case, your hair will also grow back within a few months.
Excess Vitamin A: The American Academy of Dermatology has found that overdoing medications or supplements containing vitamin A can trigger hair loss. The recommended daily value for vitamin A is 5,000 IU per day for adults and children over 4. Supplements can contain up to 10,000 IU. This cause of hair loss is reversible and hair should return to growing normally once the excess vitamin A is stopped.
Lack of Protein: Hair growth is one of the first things your body shuts down if you are not getting enough protein in your diet. After a drop in protein intake, you can notice a lack of hair growth about two to three months later.
Heredity: Women don’t tend to have the same receding hairline issues as men, but you are still susceptible to widening parts or overall thinning, especially if it runs in the family. Minoxidil products can help grow hair in this situation.
Hormones: Starting, stopping, or switching birth control pills, or even menopause, can have an effect on hair growth. These hormonal changes can cause telogen effluvium just like pregnancy or physical stress, and it tends to be more likely if you have a family history of hair loss.
Anemia: Almost 10% of women aged 20 through 49 suffer from anemia due to an iron deficiency. In addition to fatigue, headache, dizziness, and pale skin, your anemia could also cause hair loss. A simple iron supplement should correct the problem after your doctor has diagnosed the deficiency correctly.
Vitamin B Deficiency: Although uncommon in the US, a vitamin B deficiency is another easily correctable cause of hair loss with the help of supplements or dietary changes.
Hypothyroidism: Underactive thyroid glands could lead to a lack of growth and development hormones that are crucial to hair growth. Once this condition is diagnosed by your doctor, your thyroids levels can return to normal with the help of synthetic thyroid medication.
Autoimmune problems: An overactive immune system could cause alopecia areata, where the body sees the hair as foreign and targets it by mistake. The treatment includes steroid injections and possibly Minoxidil treatments, but the condition can be unpredictable with intermittent hair loss and regrowth.
Lupus: Diseases like lupus are another autoimmune problem, where the hair is mistakenly targeted by your immune system. Unfortunately, this type of hair loss is called “scarring,” which means hair cannot grow back.
Dramatic weight loss: Sudden weight loss is a form of physical trauma, combined with potential vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Even if the weight loss is ultimately good for you, the body can go into shock and there could be a six-month period of hair loss that will correct itself.
Chemotherapy: Unfortunately, the same drugs that fight cancer also unintentionally target other rapidly dividing cells like hair. Once chemotherapy is stopped your hair will grow back, although it may be a different texture or color.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is an imbalance of androgen hormones that can can cause ovarian cysts, weight gain, changes in menstrual period, infertility, as well as hair thinning. It is possible to correct the hormonal imbalance and treat the symptoms with medications and other treatments.
Antidepressants, blood thinners, and more: Certain classes of medications, including beta-blockers used to treat blood pressure, can possibly promote hair loss. Other drugs include methotrexate, lithium, NSAIDs including ibuprofen, and antidepressants. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about lowering your dose or trying other medicines.
Overstyling: Vigorous styling and hair treatments over time can cause hair loss. Tight braids, corn rows, weaves, and chemical relaxers are all harsh on your hair root and should be limited as much as possible. When they are performed, follow with deep conditioning treatments and avoid heat styling to prevent further damage. These practices can potentially harm hair at the root, preventing hair from growing back.
Trichotillomania: This is an impulse control disorder that causes people to compulsively pull their hair out. Some antidepressants may help mitigate the condition or behavioral modification therapy can be used.
Aging: As women enter their 50s and 60s, it is common to see hair loss or thinning of the hair. Hormonal and other bodily changes cause changes in the scalp and hair production. It is important to talk to a hair specialist to discuss possible treatments and hair care regimens that will prevent damage and keep your hair healthy.