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Hair Loss Causes

If you’re losing hair or noticing your hair starting to thin, the best place to start on your journey to regaining control of your follicles is to find out the root cause – that way you can start to tackle it before the symptoms progress.

But finding out what’s causing your hair loss isn’t necessarily as simple as you might think. There are a multitude of different factors and causes which can affect and exacerbate hair loss, and it can be hard to decipher which ones are affecting your hair, especially if your only symptom is gradual hair thinning. Here are some potential causes of hair loss:

Hereditary hair loss

By far the most common form of hair loss, hereditary hair loss (which is hair loss dictated by your genes) accounts for the vast majority of hair loss cases in women. There’s a popular misconception that hereditary hair loss is passed down through the mother’s side of the family, but in fact both sides of your gene pool play a big part in dictating how much hair you’ll lose and how fast the hair loss will progress.

Age

36% of women after 30 experience hair loss1 – and as women get older, it’s natural to observe hair thinning or loss, as your follicles are unlikely to be as productive as they were during your younger years. But hereditary hair loss can actually strike at any time during a woman’s life – some women notice thinning as early as their twenties, while other women can make it all the way to their sixties without observing noticeable hair loss.

Hormones

Hormones play a crucial role in dictating our hair loss – the hormone dihydrotestosterone (also known as DHT), for example, is a key factor in hereditary hair loss, as it attacks the follicles and causes them to gradually shut down. Women suffering from conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) are thought to have higher levels of androgens (the hormonal family that DHT and testosterone come from) in their system, which can lead to increased hair loss. Hyperthyroidism is another condition that can throw hormones out of balance, with hair loss as a side-effect.

Post-partum hair loss

Many women who have just given birth experience quite severe hair loss known as post-partum hair loss. When a woman is pregnant, the higher levels of estrogen (the counterpart of testosterone) prolong the hair’s growth phase, which can result in less shedding and thicker locks. Once the baby is born, estrogen levels return to normal and the hair retained during pregnancy begins to shed.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on hair loss – but they’re not likely to induce hair loss without the contributing factors of genetics and age. If you have hereditary hair loss encoded into your genes already, poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle could exacerbate the problem and result in heightened hair shedding.

 

1 Gan DC et al. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc 2005; 10:184 –189.