Hidden causes of hair loss
Did you know that the average woman can lose up to 100 strands of hair per day?
Whether this shocks you or brings you comfort to know you’re not alone, hair loss is a very common occurrence for every woman. After all, between brushing and ponytails, we put our hair through a lot, but if you’re noticing more strands falling out, or thinning hair, it may be time to take a pause and look at your hair habits and overall health. There can be hidden causes behind hair loss that may not be immediately evident at first.
The causes of hair loss in women can be attributed to anything from genetics to hormones, medications, and over-styling or processing. A very quick and simple test to see how much hair you’re losing on average is to gather around 60 strands between your fingers and run through your hair. Health experts say about 5-8 strands of hair should fall out, anything in excess of 15 could mean you’re losing more than normal, but it’s no reason to freak out.
Here are 10 hidden causes of hair loss in women, and some not often talked about reasons for why your hair may be falling out.
Causes of hair loss
Genetics and hereditary traits
Let’s start at the beginning—literally. We love to attribute our favorite features to our parents or grandparents and let’s face it, we also like to blame them for the ones we’re not always pleased with. Hereditary pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia if you want to get fancy, is more commonly known as male pattern baldness. Androgens are “male” hormones that have important functions for both sexes including the regulation of hair growth. It’s true that men undergo hair loss more frequently and earlier in life than women and how they lose their hair also differs. Typically, most women will notice their hair thinning over time with a reduction of hair volume. Androgenetic alopecia is inherited but can also result from an overproduction of androgen.
Iron and vitamin deficiencies
A common and sometimes hidden cause of hair loss for women is a lack of iron. Iron deficiencies commonly occur if you have anemia, a condition that occurs when there are an inadequate amount of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Very heavy menstrual bleeding can also cause iron deficiencies. Iron is needed to help produce hair cell proteins and without it, thinning occurs, and we experience excess hair falls as a result.
A lack of the vitamin B12 can also impact hair loss and vegetarians and vegans are sometimes susceptible as B12 is commonly obtained through animal proteins. Vitamin B12 is closely linked to the health of red blood cells and can also leave people feeling low on energy when there is a deficiency.
On the other hand, an excess of vitamins can also be harmful. Vitamin A may appear to help hair grow faster, but when it is overused it causes your hair to reach its fall out point much faster than it would naturally. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, Vitamin A is a fat-soluble, meaning any excess could be stored in your liver which has further health consequences. The average person gets enough Vitamin A through a balanced diet, so an extra supplement should not be necessary.
Pregnancy and postpartum hair loss
"Strong enough to bear the children. Then get back to business."
As the great Beyoncé proclaims in her hit song Run the World, women and their bodies are capable of beautiful miracles—pregnancy and childbirth are definitely high on the list. It is not uncommon for women to lose some hair after childbirth, and postpartum hair loss is most noticeable within the first two to six months but is typically temporary. It’s important to note that it doesn’t occur for every woman, nor does it happen with every pregnancy.
The body experiences higher estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy which makes the hair stronger and thicker because it keeps the hair in an ongoing stage of growth (win!). However, after childbirth, the body’s hormones naturally begin to level out and all that hair that was in the “resting stage” which usually lasts about three months begins to fall out and new hair growth (hello, baby hairs) begins. Losing your hair after childbirth, coupled with the stress of a newborn and lack of sleep can also have some effect on mom’s health and her hair. Experts say new moms can experience hair loss or shedding of about 400 strands a day, but that the excess hair loss will slow down around six months postpartum.
Apart from pregnancy, there are several other factors that can cause hormonal imbalance. In women, estrogen or female hormones play a big part in regulating hair growth. Menopause, ovarian cysts, or hormone disorders like Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause hormonal imbalance. The health of your thyroid (the gland at the base of your neck which supports most bodily functions and helps regulate your metabolism and body temperature) not only impacts your hormones but your overall health. Hypothyrodism and Hyperthyrodism are common conditions, but women are three times more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men. While the conditions are almost opposites (hypo is an underactive thyroid and hyper is an overactive thyroid) their symptoms are similar, including thinning or fine hair and hair loss.
Stress has been proven to cause all sorts of mental and physical issues, but it’s an inescapable part of the demands we deal with daily. The old saying “pulling my hair out” can easily be changed to "making my hair fall out," as extreme stress has been proven to cause hair loss in women. One of the ways stress causes hair to fall out is it raises the body’s androgen or male hormone levels. Stress can also impact problems with the scalp, which is the base or foundation for healthy growing hair. The biggest issue with stress is the way it affects all parts of our lives; emotionally and physically it’s not unusual for people to lose sleep and disrupt their eating habits while under stress which is a combination for thinning hair and hair loss.
Who doesn’t love a tight, Ariana Grande-esque ponytail? How often have you found it easier to pull off slicked-back top knot on a busy morning or after a few days of relying on dry shampoo? The truth is many of these hairstyles that pull on the hairline and our fine baby hairs can cause thinning and hair loss over time. Excessive use of heat styling tools also causes thinning and hair loss. Ever use a straightening iron and notice all the excess hair that’s fallen out around you? Heat is extremely hard on the hair and causes the bonds and protective layer around the strands to break or thin which can affect the texture and strength of your hair.
Extreme weight loss
A dramatic or sudden loss of weight can also cause hair loss. When the body is deficient in the right vitamins and nutrition, the effects can sometimes appear in the condition of one’s hair. Extreme weight loss could be brought on by a number of intentional or unintentional factors such as stress or mental health conditions like depression, and even crash dieting. All these factors can shock your system and cause hair loss for up to six months.
Autoimmune diseases have been known to attack or damage hair follicles and other illnesses such as lupus can also cause hair to fall out. Treatments for illnesses like cancer, including chemotherapy are also well known to cause hair to fall out. Losing excessive hair is sometimes that first signs of any temporary or severe illness.
Easy steps to prevent hair loss in women
Preventing hair loss for women, when genetic or medical issues aren’t involved can be as simple as having a balanced, nutritious diet, and lifestyle that includes plenty of water, sleep, and finding moments of calm to help reduce stress.
A few simple steps also include using shampoos, conditioners and other products that can assist with hair growth. Maintaining the health of the scalp is essential to help prevent conditions like dry scalp and dandruff, keeping the scalp clean also prevents bacteria and excessive oils.
Giving your scalp a good massage with your fingertips during washes not only feels great but also helps to improve circulation and can stimulate hair growth. Topical medication or thickening products can also help, but you should consider any medications you’re already taking and your overall health before using topical medication or treatments for hair loss.
we hope you enjoyed reading and will look after your health and avoid stress to have longer and strong locks.