Why Your Hair is Falling Out and What You Can Do About It
You can take steps to reduce your hair fall and improve growth, but to know what to do, you need to understand the reasons behind hair loss. Read to find why you might be losing your hair, and how to prevent hair fall.
Finding some stray hair in your hairbrush or the drain after you shampoo is common. Hair shedding is part of a natural balance —your body is growing new, healthy ones to replace the old, and losing between 50 to 100 hair per day is entirely normal. But when you shed more hair than you grow, and it causes thinning or bald patches on your head, hair fall can become a cause for concern. The disruption of the natural balance usually points to some underlying reason.
Understanding why you might be having more hair fall than usual might be tricky, because there can be a number of different reasons for hair fall in men and women. Some, like hereditary hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) are not really in your control. But others, like traction alopecia (hair loss caused by pulling) or temporary hair shedding (a common condition called telogen effluvium) can be managed or reversed if caught early. If you have noticed your hair is falling out more than usual, looks thinner, or seems to be growing more slowly, here are some of the most common reasons for hair fall in women and men.
Common Causes of Hair Loss in Men and Women
When we think of hereditary hair loss, we usually go straight to male pattern baldness. But people of all genders are susceptible to hereditary hair loss. Genetic hair loss is caused in men by a condition called male pattern baldness (MPB) and in women called female pattern baldness (FPB), medically known as androgenetic alopecia. MPB starts in men around their 20s and 30s as an m-shaped recession at the front of their scalp. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, USA, about 80 percent of men experience MPB by the age of 80. Women experience hair loss after menopause in the form of thinning along the parting of their hair, and 50 percent of all women experience this.
2. Nutritional Deficiencies
A study published in 2017 in Dermatology Practical and Conceptual found that diet is extremely important for hair health. Nutritional deficiencies such as iron, zinc, niacin (vitamin B3), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B and D, protein, and folic acid can all result in excessive hair fall, especially in combination with medical or genetic conditions.
3. Medical Conditions
Hair loss often occurs in people suffering or recovering from a medical condition or illness. Thyroid disease, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and scalp infections like ringworm can all cause hair fall, as well as medications taken to treat high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, cancer and heart problems. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that affects about 0.5 percent people in the world, is a condition where your immune system can attack your hair follicles, causing them to fall out.
4. Physical and emotional stress
When you experience a big change or go through a traumatic event, you undergo a lot of emotional stress. At this time, you might experience a temporary halt in hair growth as your body reallocates resources to get you through the crisis. This can also happen because of physical stress, such as when you undergo a surgery, have an infection or a high fever, or lose a significant amount of weight in a short time.
Traction alopecia can be caused due to wearing very tight ponytails or braids on a regular basis, which puts pressure on the hair follicles by pulling the hair back very tightly. Regularly using heat tools to style your hair or bleaching your hair for colour can weaken and damage your hair shafts, causing them to break off very easily. Getting frequent perms or chemical straightening procedures can also cause irreversible hair damage and loss.
Causes for Hair Loss in Women
During pregnancy, increase in the hormone estrogen causes rapid hair growth. But after delivery, when the estrogen levels fall back to normal, most women lose the hair grown during the pregnancy. Some women experience mild hair fall, while others can go through intense temporary hair loss for a few months.
2. Changes in birth control
Stopping your hormonal birth control, such as the birth control pill, or changing to a different hormonal contraception creates hormonal changes in your body, which can temporarily disrupt the natural hair cycle and cause hair fall.
How to Stop Hair Fall
Persistent hair fall thus could indicate an underlying health issue. Your doctor or trichologist can determine the cause of your hair loss based on a physical examination and your health history. In some cases, simple dietary changes can help. Your doctor may also change your prescription medications. Any medical conditions that lead to hair loss should be treated directly to address the condition, not just its symptoms.
If you are losing hair temporarily, you can take the following steps to reduce hair fall and breakage.
1. Wash your hair only as many times as you need it
Your hair regimen should vary based on whether you have fine, medium or coarse hair, and if you have an oily or dry scalp. Washing too frequently can strip the hair of its natural oils, making it more dry and prone to breakage. Adjusting your hair washing regimen as needed can help you prevent additional hair fall.
2. Try deep-conditioning hair masks
An occasional deep-conditioning mask can prevent your hair from getting dry and brittle. It can help your tresses look fuller, and regain some life. Add ½ cup of mayonnaise to ½ cup of yoghurt, along with 1 tbsp honey to make a natural conditioning mask.
3. Improve your diet
Hair health is directly connected to your diet. Eating a balanced diet with the right nutrients can help promote hair growth, especially if you are experiencing hair loss due to poor nutrition. Eating a balanced diet that has sufficient protein, iron, zinc and vitamins will help prevent or reduce hair fall.