Hair loss, hair thinning, and balding are all extremely common. More than 80% of men and half of women will experience some form of hair loss in their lives.
Hair loss causes differ from person to person. They could be genetic, stress-related, or a side effect from medication.
Keep reading to find out the main causes of hair loss and which ones might be affecting you.
Over time, various myths surrounding hair loss causes have become well known, despite not being based on scientific fact. The following actions might cause some damage to your hair, but do not cause permanent hair loss.
Wearing a tight-fitting hat has been believed to lead to balding and hair loss, but no scientific evidence is able to prove this.
Swimming in chlorinated water
Whilst the chlorine used to disinfect swimming pools can damage and dry out your hair, it does not cause hair loss or balding.
Using hair dryers
Some people assume that the heat from hair dryers can cause hair loss. This is untrue. The heat from hair dryers can only cause hair damage by drying out your scalp.
Applying suncream to the scalp
Some ingredients in sunscreen have been thought to cause hair loss. This is not the case, and SPF should be applied to the scalp to prevent sun damage.
The most common hair loss cause in men is pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia. This is a genetic condition that affects more than 50% of men by the time they reach 50 years old.
Male pattern baldness can start as early as in your twenties, with the first sign being a receding hairline. It is a gradual form of hair loss where the hair follicles shrink over time.
This hair loss cause is determined by your genetics, meaning it is passed down by your family members.
Because pattern baldness gets worse as you get older, ageing is the main cause of hair loss. Noticeable hair loss usually starts affecting men in their 30s and 40s.
Hair loss is a completely normal part of ageing for all men and women. Not only do your hair follicles produce finer hairs as you get older, but the rate of hair growth also slows down.
Changes in hormones have been linked to hair loss in men and women. For men in particular, this is to do with androgens (also known as sex hormones).
When androgens such as testosterone and DHT (dihydrotestosterone) change in the body, it can cause your hair follicles to shrink, leading to hair loss.
Some health conditions include hair loss as one of the symptoms. Not every person with the following conditions will have hair loss, but it could be a possible cause.
After a very sudden shock, the body can have sudden hair loss. This hair loss reason is called telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium might take place after:
With this type of hair loss, you might notice large portions of hair falling out simply by washing or brushing your hair.
However, hair loss due to stress isn’t permanent.
A lack of certain nutrients in your diet can cause your hair to become brittle and fall out. If you suspect that your hair loss is due to unhealthy eating habits, try to increase your intake of:
You can also take these nutrients in the form of supplements.
A diet that is very low in protein can also cause hair loss. If your body doesn’t have enough protein to repair itself, it will stop growing hair and use the protein for more important bodily functions.
Foods aren’t generally a direct cause of hair loss. However, they can sometimes contribute to certain health conditions which might result in hair thinning or balding.
For example, eating too much sugar can lead to diabetes and insulin resistance (when your body’s cells don’t respond to insulin as they should), which can be a hair loss cause.
Heavy alcohol consumption is also bad for your hair, and could be another reason for hair loss. Your hair is mostly made up of a protein called Keratin, and alcohol can damage the production of this.
Some medications used to treat health conditions can cause hair loss as a side effect. In most cases, this type of hair loss is temporary and will only last during your treatment.
The following medications can cause hair loss as a potential side effect:
If you damage your scalp and your hair follicles, you will likely experience temporary hair loss.
Your hair should grow back fairly quickly unless your injuries have resulted in scarring. If this is the case, the hair follicles will have been destroyed, causing permanent hair loss.
A lack of vitamin B could play a role in hair loss, specifically B2, B7, B9, and B12. Eating a healthy diet including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products should help you get enough of this vitamin.
If you do not eat animal products you could take a vitamin B supplement once a day.
Some hair loss causes are specific to women only. You are more likely to suffer from hair loss if you:
Hair loss has many causes, but is mostly a result of your genetics and is a natural part of ageing. Other causes include hormonal changes, stress, as well as medical conditions and treatments - but in these cases, hair loss is usually temporary.