Causes of hair fall: Know why you are losing your strands

Causes of hair fall: Know why you are losing your strands

Do you ever get the feeling that your hair is playing tricks on you, vanishing into thin air without warning? Well, you're not alone! Whether it's genetics, stress or just life being, there are plenty of reasons why those strands seem to bid farewell without warning. But fear not! We're here to figure out why you are losing your strands and what can be done to prevent them from falling.

As we all know, hair fall is a very common situation which can make us feel like we’re in a never-ending battle with our own follicles. Hair fall can be caused by a variety of factors and identifying the underlying cause can help get the right attention and care. Here are some common reasons for hair fall:

 

1. Genetics

 

Let’s talk about one of the most common causes of hair fall – genetics! If your parents have been suffering from hair loss, it is likely that you have inherited that trait from your parents. Hereditary hair loss or androgenetic alopecia can be seen in both men and women. Male pattern baldness usually results in receding hairline and bald spots over the head whereas women suffer from hair thinning around the crown of the scalp. Studies show that it is influenced by a combination of genetic factors and hormonal activity, particularly androgens. [1]

 

2. Hormonal Changes

 

Most of us frequently go on a roller-coaster ride with our hormones, right? But hormones are actually the regulators of our hair growth cycles and hormonal fluctuations can often lead to hair loss [2]:

• Pregnancy and childbirth: New mothers usually experience hair loss after giving birth due to a drop in estrogen levels.

• Menopause: Decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause can lead to the thinning of hair.

• Thyroid problems: Both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can cause hair loss.

• Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a very common condition in which the imbalance of reproductive hormones can lead to thinning hair on the scalp and increased hair growth on other parts of the body.

• Aging: As we age, our hair naturally starts showing the signs such as increased hair fall and reduction in hair growth due to hormonal changes such as decrease in estrogen in women and testosterone in men.

     

    3. Stress

     

    Have you ever been so stressed out that you are so close to pulling out your hair? Perhaps that's just what your hair is doing on its own! Stress can cause hair to enter the shedding phase early, resulting in significant hair loss. Let’s take a look at the three forms of hair loss linked to high stress levels:

    • Telogen effluvium: In this stage, a large number of hair follicles go into a resting phase due to stressful conditions which causes more shedding. [3]

    • Trichotillomania: People suffering from this psychological condition feel the need to pull out their hair due to stress or anxiety. [4]

    • Alopecia areata: Triggered by too much stress, this autoimmune condition causes the body's immune system to attack its own hair follicles, resulting in patches of hair loss. [5]

       

      4. Nutritional Deficiencies:

       

      Our hair needs a range of nutrients to develop healthily, just like the rest of our body does. These nutrients include [6]:

      • Vital Vitamins: Essential vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin B (including Biotin and Niacin), Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E are crucial for hair growth and maintenance.

      • Major Minerals: Minerals such as Iron, Zinc, Selenium, and other trace elements perform various functions like transporting oxygen to hair follicles, strengthening hair follicles, and promoting overall hair growth.

      • Preliminary Proteins: Important proteins like Ferritin and Keratin shape your hair and act as building blocks, providing the necessary strength to your hair.

      • Healthy Fats: Essential fatty acids like Omega-3 are vital for your hair’s overall nourishment.

        If your diet isn’t providing these nutrients, it’s time to go on a research spree and get your nutrition on the right track. Your hair will thank you!

         

        5. Poor Scalp Health

         

        Healthy hair starts at the scalp. So if your scalp is suffering from troubles, it is likely that you may experience hair fall. Poor scalp health is also one of the reasons of hair fall and can be identified with these factors [7]:

        • Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis: The scalp becomes flaky and itchy when you have dandruff which can affect the hair follicles. When the severity is high, it results in seborrheic dermatitis in which the increased redness and scaling causes more hair damage.

        • Psoriasis: This is a chronic inflammatory condition that leads to lesions on the scalp. Overgrowth of the scalp organism Malassezia results in scalp psoriasis which badly impacts on hair follicles.

        • Scalp aging: Hair color, hair loss, and the structural characteristics of the hair fiber can all be impacted by hair aging, which has an impact on the manageability and general appearance of hair.

           

          6. Hairstyles and Chemical Treatments

           

          We all struggle on an everyday basis to make each day a good hair day, don’t we? But we often tend to forget how those tight ponytails, braids, and buns can negatively impact our hair over time, leading to hair loss. This situation is called ‘traction alopecia’ in which the constant pulling of hair results in damaged hair follicles. [8] Also, excessive heat styling, chemical treatments like bleaching and colouring, wrong haircare products can cause hair fall and hair breakage. So, give your hair the care they deserve and always think before styling your hair.

           

          7. Environmental Factors

           

          Pollution, UV rays and harsh weather are some of the environmental enemies of hair. Many of us try to cover ourselves from all of these using different methods like sunscreen, suncoat, scarves, umbrella, etc., but is that enough to protect your skin as well as your hair? Here’s what these environmental factors do to your hair and cause more hair loss over the period [9]:

          • Pollution: All of those harmful toxins in the air can settle on your scalp and hair which can weaken the follicles and hair strands.

          • Sun exposure: Limited sun exposure is good for us but longer and frequent exposure to UV rays can damage hair shafts and follicles.

          • Harsh weather: Extreme cold or heat can affect hair health. Cold weather can lead to dry and brittle hair, while excessive heat can damage hair proteins.

             

            8. Medical Conditions, medications and treatments

             

            If anyone has any medical conditions, are taking specific medications, or undergoing certain treatments, it is likely that hair loss could occur as a side effect. Severe scalp infections, chemotherapy medicines, certain autoimmune diseases can cause temporary or permanent hair loss. In this case, one should consult healthcare professional and follow the instructions provided by the respective specialist. [10]

             

            Summing Up: Insights on Hair Loss

             

            As we finish up, it’s important to keep in mind that there can be many reasons why your hair is falling out. Many different factors are associated with hair loss and knowing these reasons helps you take better care of your hair. If you understand what’s causing the problem, you can find the right solution. With right nutrition, good care, some lifestyle changes, using right haircare products and protection, you can keep your hair healthy and look your best!

             

            References:

             

            1. Redler S, Messenger AG, Betz RC. Genetics and other factors in the aetiology of female pattern hair loss. Exp Dermatol. 2017;26(6):510-517. doi: 10.1111/exd.13373.

            2. Grymowicz M, Rudnicka E, Podfigurna A, Napierala P, Smolarczyk R, Smolarczyk K, Meczekalski B. Hormonal effects on hair follicles. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(15):5342. doi: 10.3390/ijms21155342.

            3. Liyanage D, Sinclair R. Telogen effluvium. Cosmetics. 2016;3(2):13. https://doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics3020013

            4. Pereyra AD, Saadabadi A. Trichotillomania. [Updated 2023 Jun 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493186/

            5. Pratt CH, King LE, Messenger AG, Christiano AM, Sundberg JP. Alopecia areata. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2017;3:17011. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrdp.2017.11

            6. Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: A review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019;9(1):51-70. doi: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6.

            7. Trüeb RM, Henry JP, Davis MG, Schwartz JR. Scalp condition impacts hair growth and retention via oxidative stress. Int J Trichology. 2018;10(6):262-270. doi: 10.4103/ijt.ijt_57_18. PMID: 30783333; PMCID: PMC6369642.

            8. Pulickal JK, Kaliyadan F. Traction alopecia. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. [updated 2023 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470434/

            9. Williams R, Pawlus AD, Thornton MJ. Getting under the skin of hair aging: the impact of the hair follicle environment. Exp Dermatol. 2020;29(7):588-597. doi: 10.1111/exd.14109. PMID: 32358903.

            10. Saraswat N, Chopra A, Sood A, Kamboj P, Kumar S. A descriptive study to analyze chemotherapy-induced hair loss and its psychosocial impact in adults: our experience from a tertiary care hospital. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2019;10(4):426-430. doi: 10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_471_18. PMID: 31334063; PMCID: PMC6615375.
            Back to blog