Why Is My Hair Falling Out? 5 Causes of Hair Loss in Women
Anyone who has worn a ponytail for a long period of time knows about the annoyance of “ponytail headaches.” However, it’s important to understand that the constant pulling associated with a hairstyle like this may lead to hair loss. This is because certain hairstyles can cause traction alopecia — a form of hair loss caused by pulling of the scalp, which weakens the hair root and follicle.
There are many signs that your hairstyle is causing too much stress on your hair. These include:
- Hair loss, sometimes resulting in a receding hairline;
- Signs of thin or broken hair in areas where your hair is tied;
- Small pimples or ulcers on your scalp, often at the base of where your hair is tied;
- Itching or redness on your scalp;
- Scarred skin on your scalp (these areas may look “shiny”).
Avoid These Hairstyles to Prevent Hair Loss
To avoid this type of hair loss, consider changing up your hairstyle and avoid putting undue stress on your hair follicles. Tight ponytails, braids, or buns can lead to traction alopecia. The excessive use of hair extensions, wefts, or clip-ins can also cause hair loss over time.
The way you take care of your hair can also impact your hair health. Brush rollers, when applied too tightly, can cause alopecia. Even regular brushing can cause hair loss if done too vigorously.
Instead of regularly doing the above, try to find alternative ways to style your hair. Women with straight hair can simply wear it behind or over their shoulders, and loose braids are still not out of the question. Those with curly hair might try wearing their hair naturally. These are only a few examples of your options going forward.
If you’ve experienced notable hair loss, you might find that your styling options are limited. In this case, it can be wise to invest in hair growth shampoo or hair thickening fibers. These can improve the appearance of your hair and widen your hairstyling options.
Are you starting to experience hair loss? It may be time to assess your diet for any gaps in your caloric, protein, vitamin, and mineral intake. Nutrients that are associated with hair health include:
- Vitamin A (though too much can cause hair loss);
- Vitamin C;
- Vitamin D.
Get All the Vitamins and Minerals You Need for Hair Health
In order to address this cause of hair loss, it can help to ensure you’re getting a well-rounded diet, complete with the nutrition you need to mitigate the effects of hair loss. This means a diet rich in natural foods — primarily high-fiber carbs, fruits, veggies, and lean meats. Ensure that you are getting enough food each day and that you’re limiting junk foods.
Seek to include foods with nutrients that you’ve neglected. For instance, androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium, two conditions commonly associated with female pattern baldness, may be mitigated with increased intake of vitamin D, according to research. Foods high in this vitamin, like dairy products, fatty fish, or eggs, are useful additions to your diet to address this issue. Most multivitamins include this as well.
Of course, it’s always wise to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor. It may be beneficial to consult with your physician or nutritionist to discuss appropriate diet changes or supplements to address this issue. They may be able to help you assess your diet, identify gaps in your vitamin/mineral intake, and determine which foods or supplements may be able to help you maintain optimal hair health.
It’s not uncommon for women to experience some degree of hair loss after stressful events. This is evident in women who have undergone traumatic events such as giving birth (though hormonal changes are also to blame for this) or experiencing abuse.
To glean why this occurs, it’s important to understand how hair grows. Human hair follicles undergo several phases throughout their lifecycle. It starts in its anagen phase — the longest phase at up to seven years and also the time during which your hair grows in length. This is followed by a transition phase and a resting phase. Finally, it sheds during its exogen phase, which occurs to roughly 100 hairs each day for the average human.
Stress disrupts this cycle. According to an article published in The Atlantic titled “Why Stress Makes Your Hair Fall Out:
“Stress is thought to disrupt this process, prematurely kicking hairs out of the growth period. Rather than leaving anagen at their own pace, they all go through the resting phase at the same time and fall out together in bigger numbers — up to 10 times more than usual … “
Stress can, as a result of this disruption, cause several different types of hair loss, including telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and trichotillomania.
Follow These Stress-Management Tips
- Exercise regularly: When we are stressed, our brains are telling our bodies that we need to act. This results in a prolonged fight-or-flight response with no method of release, which can dramatically worsen the symptoms of stress. Physical activity allows us to release this energy.
- Practice gratitude: Feeling grateful can alleviate feelings of anxiety that accompany stress. Take some time each day to create a list of things you are grateful for, then reflect on it.
- Improve your diet: In addition to handling any potential nutritional deficiencies — a potential cause of hair loss, as discussed above — a balanced diet can decrease feelings of nervousness and sadness.
These are just a few of the methods you can employ to manage stress and, hopefully, mitigate its potential impacts on your hair health.
Toxins or Medications
Certain toxins, medications, or medical procedures can also lead to hair loss. In certain circumstances, hair loss is an expected side effect, as is the case with many individuals who undergo chemotherapy.
There are many types of drugs that may cause hair loss, and WebMD has a comprehensive list of them. Among the items on this list, you’ll find:
- Birth control pills;
- Drugs to treat breast cancer;
- Acne medications with vitamin A;
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen);
- Weight loss drugs — in fact, rapid weight loss itself may also lead to hair loss.
There are many more examples, and each has been linked to hair loss in some instances, though further research is required to understand why this is the case.
Finding Alternative Medications
Hair loss can be an alarming symptom, but it is vital to discuss your symptoms with your physician before discontinuing the use of certain medications. Maintain an ongoing dialogue with your doctor about symptoms as they occur; keeping a log of your side effects is a useful practice for this purpose. Your doctor may also be able to help you determine whether your hair loss is indeed related to the medication in question. If it is, they should be able to work with you to discover an alternative medication that does not cause hair loss.
If the cause of your hair loss is not associated with one of the above factors, it may be connected to your genetics. If your family has a history of hair loss, you may also be susceptible to it. This is a diagnosable condition, so it’s important to bring this up with your doctor.
One of the most common forms of hair loss is due to hereditary-pattern baldness. This is a natural condition caused by a combination of genetic, hormone, and age-related factors. This type of baldness starts with thinning hair, then progresses over time to complete hair loss. For women, the most common place for hair loss to occur on the top of the head, down the middle — it may appear that the part of your hair is widening.
How to Address Hair Loss Due to Your Genes
While this cause of hair loss if out of your control, you can still take action to mitigate its effects. Certain medications, such as minoxidil, can slow further hair loss. There are also many professional hair thickening products that can keep your hair looking and feeling healthy, even if your genetics are working against you.