Between tying your hair up in ponytails or buns, brushing and combing, and your extensive shampooing and conditioning processes, shedding some hair every day is perfectly normal and even expected. In fact, most men and women lose between 50 and 100 hairs each day through their everyday grooming habits and other natural causes.
For many people, typical everyday hair loss can start to develop into more serious hair thinning and even bald spots, particularly as they get older. If you’re noticing that the clump of hair in your hairbrush is thicker than usual, your shower is clogging almost immediately when washing your hair, or your hair just looks thinner and more brittle than it used to, there could be several factors at play.
Though minor hair loss happens to nearly everyone each day, more significant hair loss or loss of hair density is also extremely common in both men and women. If you’re in the dark as to when your hair started thinning and what could have caused it, you may find some important insight within this list of common causes of hair loss.
Androgenetic alopecia. What is Alopecia? It’s impossible to talk about hair loss without mentioning alopecia. Alopecia is often used interchangeably with the term “pattern baldness” and refers to a genetic condition that causes your immune system to attack your hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Though alopecia may seem like a scary prospect, it doesn’t actually destroy your hair follicles, which means that hair regrowth is absolutely possible!
Telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium. These two conditions come into play when your hair molecules get stuck in different phases of the natural growth cycle. Telogen effluvium refers to when your hair spends too much time in the shedding phase, causing hair to fall out excessively. This is normally caused by things like extreme stress, dramatic weight loss, thyroid issues, childbirth, and some medications. Anagen effluvium is the opposite of telogen effluvium and means that your hair is falling out rapidly due to issues occurring during the growth phase. This condition can lead to hair loss on parts of your body besides your head, including your eyebrows and eyelashes, and is usually caused by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiations as well as autoimmune diseases or even fungal infections.
Age. Let’s face it—your hair loss may be explained away by the simple fact that you’re getting older. As we age, our cells perish more quickly than they can regenerate. This is why those approaching or enjoying their golden years will notice decreased bone density, thinner skin, and, you guessed it—thinning hair and bald spots. Additionally, older people naturally produce less oil on their scalp, causing their hair to appear less shiny than it used to and likely be more brittle and breakable. People can experience thinner and duller hair whether or not they are genetically inclined to develop androgenetic alopecia, or male or female pattern baldness, as they age.
Extreme stress. If you’ve experienced a hugely stressful or even traumatic life event, whether the effects were mostly physical or emotional, the possibility of hair loss may not be the first thing on your mind. However, if you notice an abnormal amount of hair shedding 2 to 3 months after a period of extreme stress or a singular stressful event, don’t panic—you may have just developed temporary telogen effluvium, which can happen as a stress response. So, if you’re noticing hair loss after a big surgery, the loss of a loved one, or a life-altering diagnosis, trust that your hair growth will return to normal between 6-9 months after the event.
Medication. Hair loss is a very common side effect of several medications. People taking medications for conditions as serious as high blood pressure to as non-threatening as acne can experience thinning hair; just make sure to let your doctor know as soon as possible so you can hopefully switch to a different medication.
In order to understand exactly what is causing your thinning hair, however, consider scheduling an appointment with a trichologist. These scalp and hair specialists will be able to take your age, genetic makeup, hair history, and other factors into account to determine just what is causing your hair loss.