Know Your Enemy – 22 Causes of Hair Loss

Hair Loss

Although some hair loss ultimately remains unexplained, it is vital to rule out health causes and useful to consider other possible reasons.

1. Physical Stress

Have you suffered any form of physical trauma recently – car crash, fall, surgery, even a bad case of flu? Physical shock if severe enough can cause hair loss almost immediately by speeding up the shedding cycle, though in most cases it will take between 3-6 months to show and hair will gradually return to normal in another 6-12 months.

2. Pregnancy

Having a baby is also a huge physical upheaval to the body which can result in hair loss, particularly if the pregnancy and birth have been difficult, though prior to the birth most women will have enjoyed luxuriant glossy hair owing to the boost of hormone levels surging. Again for most women this hair loss is temporary and their hair will return to normal over the next 12 months.

3. Too Much Vitamin A

Overdoing vitamin A-containing supplements or medications can trigger hair loss so always check you are not exceeding the limit on either. The recommended daily limit for adults is 5,000 (IU).

4. Lack of Protein

Protein is the main building block of all body cells including hair. If you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, your body may divert its limited supply to more vital parts of the body and shut down hair growth. If you are vegetarian or vegan, research alternative sources of protein and ensure you incorporate sufficient plant-based protein into your diet.

5. Male Pattern Baldness

The most common type of baldness is known as ‘male pattern baldness’ and around two out of three men can expect to experience this by the age of 60. This type of hair loss is caused by a combination of genes and male sex hormones, and typically follows a pattern in which the hair begins receding at the temples or the crown and then spreads forming a ‘horseshoe’ shape. Treatment options include topical creams such as Minoxidil which can slow and, in some cases, arrest further thinning. There can also be good results with laser therapy and DHT inhibitors. Transplants and excellent cosmetic options are available if hair loss does not respond sufficiently to treatment.


6. Heredity

Female-pattern hair loss, known as ‘androgenic or androgenetic alopecia’, is the female version of male pattern baldness and is likely to strike if the females in your family have also suffered from a certain age. The main difference is that women seldom go bald, but are more likely to notice general thinning all over the scalp, with the top usually being thinnest. This makes it hard (albeit not impossible) to consider hair transplants as there may be no thick areas to transplant from and a much wider area to cover. Again sometimes Minoxidil can help as can laser therapy and DHT inhibitors. Excellent cosmetic options are available if hair loss does not respond sufficiently to treatment.

7. Birth Control Pills

Hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause hair loss and so can switching or stopping birth-control pills, though both are more likely in families of hereditary hair loss. Switching birth control pills again can help or if you want to stop taking them permanently, your hair will often correct itself given 3-6 months recovery time and simple hair-friendly beauty regimes.

8. Emotional Stress

Emotional stress is less likely to cause hair loss than physical stress, but it is not unknown after a shock such as bereavement, divorce or redundancy. Or if you are run down by daily stress such as caring for an elderly relation. Emotional stress is more likely to exacerbate an existing hair loss condition rather than cause one. Shedding should eventually stop, particularly if you seek help to deal with your emotional stress such as counselling or practical support or exploring if a situation can be improved so you don’t feel run down and stressed on an ongoing basis.

9. Anaemia

Anaemia is a common condition caused by iron deficiency. It is more common in women, possibly owing to monthly blood loss. The good news is that anaemia is one of the simplest and easiest causes of hair loss to diagnose and treat, requiring only a blood test to determine iron and therefore ferritin levels and iron tablets or injections to correct. Symptoms of anaemia include fatigue, headache, dizziness, ghostly pallor and cold hands and feet.

10.Thyroid Problems

The thyroid is the little gland in your neck which produces hormones critical to metabolism as well as growth and development. If it’s not pumping out enough hormones this can contribute to hair loss. Your doctor can do tests to determine if there is a problem and prescribe thyroid medication to correct if so.

11.Vitamin B Deficiency

Lack of Vitamin B, particularly B12 is another easily correctable cause of hair loss by eating more Vitamin B-rich foods and taking vitamin B supplements

12. Autoimmune-related Hair Loss

Autoimmune hair loss is also called alopecia areata and is the result of an over-zealous immune system which mistakes hair for a foreign object and targets it by mistake. Steroid injections can help with this type of hair loss.

13. Lupus

Lupus is another type of auto-immune disease which acts in a similar way but unfortunately this type of hair loss is less reversible as it causes scarring of the scalp.

14. Dramatic Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss can be interpreted by the body as ‘physical trauma’ so may result in the same symptoms of thinning hair. Or it may be a result of your body not absorbing enough vitamins and minerals as a result of gastric band restrictions or starvation; ie if an individual has developed an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

15. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is designed to destroy rapidly dividing cells such as cancer. Unfortunately this often means other rapidly-dividing cells as well such as hair are slayed. Many patients use cold cap therapy to try and prevent their hair falling out and new drugs are being developed to target cancer cells more accurately. Meantime most cancer patients will lose their hair during chemotherapy, though the majority will recover their hair within months, albeit often of a surprisingly different texture.

16. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome is an imbalance in male and female sex hormones. An excess of androgens can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, changes in your menstrual period and infertility as well as hair thinning. Because male hormones are overrepresented in PCOS, women may also experience more hair on the face and body. If you have the above symptoms consult your doctor who can test your hormone levels and treat you accordingly.

17.Antidepressants, Blood Thinners & other Drugs

Nearly all prescription medicines warn ‘you may experience hair loss’ among the myriad of other side-effects, but some are more notorious than others, particularly blood thinners and blood-pressure drugs known as beta-blockers. Other known culprits include methotrexate (used to treat rheumatic conditions/skin conditions), lithium (for bipolar disorder), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen, and most antidepressants. If you believe your hair thinning is caused by medication, talk to your doctor about reducing or changing it.

18. Overprocessing

Relentless processing over the years can cause hair loss. Extreme styling in particular such as dreadlocks, cornrows, permanent dyes, chemical relaxers, hot-oil treatments and any kind of harsh chemical or high heat can actually pull at the root and kill it or strip the hair to the point that it breaks off or begins minuturising. Advice is to keep products to a minimum and let hair dry naturally wherever possible. Steer clear of permanent dyes and use less-harsh semi-permanent colours. Limit use of hot irons and hair dryers and use them on lowest possible heat, conditioning hair first.

19. Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a condition which causes sufferers  to compulsively pull their hair out. It often begins in teenagers and is four times more common in women than men.  Sufferers are advised to try CBT and develop techniques to substitutes less harmful behaviours. Hair recovery from this condition is mixed and often depends on how long it has been going on for.

20. Ageing

It is not known why the ageing process can bring on hair loss. Drops in hormonal levels, genetic programming kicking in at the same age as other family members or the body being less able to process and synthesise nutrients as efficiently as when young have all been cited as possible causes and research continues. For most with age-related hair loss, their best bet is improving their health as much as possible and opting for good cosmetic solutions.

21. Anabolic Steroids

If you take anabolic steroids, the type abused by some athletes to bulk up, you could lose your hair as these drugs can have the same impact on the body as polycystic ovary disease (PCOS). Again, hair should recover when steroids are ceased

22.Lack Of Silica

Silica repairs the majority of the collagen and connective tissues found in the body and also promotes hair strength and growth. A small amount can be found naturally in foods such as strawberries and cucumbers but dietary sources may undersupply the body and if you are prone to hair loss you could benefit from taking Silica supplements as well. At the very least you should notice an improvement in hair strength and quality if not thickening too. It is also good for skin and joints. There are many encouraging reviews of Silica on the internet.

*If using food supplements, please take them responsibly and in accordance with pack instructions as overdosing can be as harmful as being vitamin-deficient and, in some cases, can even cause the reverse effect to that desired!’*