Whilst hair loss is often considered to be a stressful and potentially life-changing experience, it’s actually a lot more common than you think. In fact, the average person sheds between 50 and 100 hairs each day, depending on their age, immune response and any medication that they may be taking.
If you’re losing hair at a quicker rate, however, this is referred to excessive hair shedding and may be indicative of an underlying cause or issue. There is a number of everyday reasons why your hair may be falling out, many of which can be easily resolved with the right approach or treatment.
However, it’s important to get to the root cause of the issue (no pun intended) before you look to act. So, here are some of the most common causes of hair loss and some insight into the impact that they have.
In some cases, sudden and excessive hair loss may be caused by extreme stress. So, if you’ve recently endured a physical injury or some form of psychological trauma, this could well explain relatively high levels of hair shedding.
But how exactly does this work? In simple terms, physical and mental trauma can cause shock to the hair growth cycle, which includes three distinct stages that govern what happens to your follicles.
Following the trauma, your body will produce an increased rate of adrenaline which is subsequently converted into cholesterol, which in turn triggers a hike in the testosterone levels running through your bloodstream.
This shock can disrupt the growth cycle and subsequently push more hair into the so-called shedding or telogen stage, during which time individual hairs are released and fall out. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as telogen effluvium, which can see as many as 70% of scalp hairs being shed at any one time and usually occurs between two and six months after the initial shock.
Usually, only 10% or 20% of your scalp hairs should fall out during the telogen growth stage, so this is a marked difference that will be instantly noticeable.
The key to resolving this lies with tackling the underlying trauma, either through treatment, therapy or a combination of the two. Similarly, learning simple relaxation and meditation techniques can help to restore your body balance and hair growth cycle, so keep this in mind when dealing with telogen effluvium.
Male Pattern Baldness
Next up is male pattern baldness, which is arguably one of the most common causes of hair loss amongst both men and women.
This is also unique in that it’s not something that can be treated or reversed over time, as it’s caused by genetics and triggers several stages of hair loss than progress until you’re completely bald.
Male pattern baldness affects approximately two-thirds of males by the time that they’re 35, whereas up to 40% of women will be affected by the age of 50.
Most cases of male pattern baldness involve an over-sensitivity to the male sex hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is thought to cause scalp hair follicles to miniaturise and ultimately undermine the hair growth cycle.
It was once widely believed that this hereditary condition was passed on through the mother’s side of a family, but in truth, it can be inherited from either parent. Genetic baldness is also a source of constant study and discovery, particularly in terms of the individual hormones that are involved in the process.
Diet and a Lack of Nutrients
Diet plays a pivotal role in a number of medical conditions and ailments, both in terms of what you eat and more importantly the key minerals and nutrients that may be missing from your daily intake.
Hair loss is no exception to this rule, and in some cases, you may be shedding hair simply due to a dietary deficiency. This is because hair cells thrive on a vitamin-rich diet that’s also packed full of minerals and antioxidants, and without these, you’ll struggle to maintain growth at a viable rate.
A lack of Vitamin C can be particularly harmful, as this aids the synthesis of collagen. This is a structural fibre that hair follicles need for growth, and without it, your locks are likely to become dry and brittle over time.
Protein also powers growth in hair cells, so the failure to include this in your diet will result in you from developing new follicles during the anagen stage of the cycle.
Iron and zinc are also minerals that contribute heavily to hair growth, so it’s important to consume a balanced and informed diet that’s packed full of fruit, leafy green vegetables, wholegrain cereals and a viable source of protein. You should also consider investing in dietary supplements, particularly if you eat a vegetarian or plant-based vegan diet.
If you have a thick and fulsome mane of hair, the chances are that you style this on a daily basis so that it can look its best.
Some styles are more taxing on your hair follicles than others, however, with those that pull your tight capable of causing physical stress that triggers traction alopecia.
This is most commonly associated with longer hairstyles, whilst the use of hot-oil treatments and chemical relaxers can also put your follicles under considerable strain.
Whilst this usually a temporary form of hair loss, particularly tight hairstyles and the failure to correct the issue proactively can actually affect the follicles to the point that patches of your hair never grow back.
With this in mind, your best bet is to wear stylish but low-maintenance styles that ease the pressure placed on your follicles. We’d also recommend that you take advantage of regular scalp massages where possible, as these are great for effective hair regrowth over time.
Sudden Weight Loss
Whilst most of us have needed to lose weight at some point in our lives, it’s important that you commit to doing this in the most responsible way possible.
After all, embarking on a crash diet or fasting regime that dramatically reduces your weight in a short space of time can wreak havoc on your hair, whilst also causing a number of additional health issues.
This works in a similar way to stress-induced hair loss, as rapid weight loss can cause a shock to the hair growth cycle and trigger the dreaded telogen effluvium.
Ultimately, the sudden stress caused by rapid weight loss can cause excess shedding during the telogen phase of the growth cycle. This can also be linked to the aforementioned dietary deficiencies surrounding vitamins and minerals, of course, and you can see hair loss within three to six months of embarking on an extreme diet.
To avoid this, you’ll need to create balanced eating and exercise regimes that enable you to lose weight responsibly. This will not only help you to hold onto your hair, but it will also ensure that lose weight in a way that’s ultimately sustainable.
If you’ve endured illness or continue to experience pain as the result of an accident, the chances are that you’ll have been prescribed medication to help cope with the fall-out.
It’s well-known that most medications come with significant side-effects, however, whilst a certain number can also induce a form of temporary but noticeable hair loss.
They include medicines such as anticoagulants and blood pressure drugs such as beta blockers, along with Allopurinol and several gout medications. These substances are essentially toxic to your hair follicles, leading to damage to the hair growth cycle and causing excessive shedding within a relatively short period of time.
This can be avoided in some instances, simply by liaising with your GP and discussing alternative medications that will help to safeguard your luscious locks.
If no alternative medication is available, you could consider altering your dosage if the doctor agrees that this is viable. You may also want to avoid some medications depending on the severity and nature of the issue at hand, although this decision should be informed and it’s not one to be taken lightly.
Even if you don’t suffer from male pattern baldness or genetic hair loss, your hair is still likely to thin as you age.
In fact, once you reach 40, it’s likely that your locks will lose their lustre as the body loses its innate ability to renew and regenerate cells at the necessary rate. This will cause your hair to thin markedly over time, whilst small bald patches may also appear on your scalp.
This is also a key concern for women, particularly those who have gone through the menopause. This can cause a significant decrease in hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen, which typically help your hair to grow and prevent long-term thinning.
Interestingly, this can trigger increased production of androgens (which are essentially male hormones), causing your hair follicles to shrink and ultimately leading to baldness.
Whilst you can do little to negate this threat, you can at least prolong the inevitable by taking care of your hair and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Once again, eating a balanced diet of lean proteins, minerals and vitamins are central to this, as is remaining active and enjoying regular exercise even as you age.
The final point on our list revolves around high-intensity sport, which is probably the last thing that you ever think would cause you to lose your hair.
However, those of you who regularly participate in high-energy exercise could see your hair growth cycle impacted adversely, particularly if you fail to take care of your hair and scalp effectively.
The reason for this is simple; as your body muscles tend to consume huge amounts of energy during high-intensity exercise, and this can deprive the rest of the body of much-needed energy. This includes your hair cells, and prolonged deprivation could well lead to hair loss over time.
There are other variables in play here too, including the use of steroids or performance-enhancing substances. In these instances, you’ll find that certain substances can interfere with your body’s natural hormone production and reduce the amount of testosterone in your bloodstream.
Yet again, your diet plays a key role in minimising the impact of high-intensity sport on your body, so try to create a structured diet plan that relies on lean proteins and high levels of hydration before and after exercise.
In terms of taking care of your mane, consider using caffeine-based shampoos that contain taurine and unique micronutrients. This can help to safeguard your hair against a number of issues as you age, become ill or navigate the tribulations of everyday life.
The Last Word
If you notice small amounts of hair shedding, there’s absolutely no reason for you to panic. Even if you observe sudden and excessive hair shedding, in most instances there’s an innocent and treatable cause that can be resolved with the right focus.
The key is to tackle the issue head-on, by getting to the root of the problem and liaising with your GP wherever necessary.
With this type of approach, and by remaining patient when attempting to reverse any temporary causes of hair loss, you should be able to overcome the problem and restore your locks to their former glory.