Hair loss is a normal part of everyday life. If you’re anything like me you find your hair everywhere; from clogging up the drain each time I wash it to hoovering up enough each week to make a small wig, I sometimes question how I have any hair left on my head.
Our hair grows in cycles and at any one time our hair will be in one of three stages. These stages are:
- Anagen – This stage is the active phase of our hair cycle. A new hair will have formed and pushed out any old hair from the follicle that has stopped growing. The hair on our head stays in this phase anywhere from two to six years
- Catagen – This is known as the transitional part of the cycle. This is when the hair stops growing
- Telogen – This is the ‘resting’ stage of the cycle. Hair can stay in this stage for roughly 100 days before it’s ready to fall out and the anagen stage starts again
It’s not uncommon to lose up to 100 strands of hair a day but if you start to notice you’re losing more than this or if your hair is falling out and not growing back it’s time to take action.
Here are five reasons why you might be shedding more than usual and what you can do about it.
5 Reasons For Hair Loss
Stress can have a negative impact on our physical body, including our hair. Hair loss due to stress can be one of three types. These are:
- Telogen Effluvium – This is when significant stress alters the growth cycle of your hair. This causes hair that is in the anagen stage to move prematurely to the telogen stage and fall out. You will find your hair falls out easily when touching, washing or brushing it
- Trichotillomania – Trichotillomania is a disorder where sufferers are compelled to pull out their hair from both their body and scalp. Trichotillomania can be a reaction to coping with difficult or negative feelings or situations, including stress, anxiety and depression
- Alopecia Areata – Alopecia areata is when the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles causing hair to fall out. It’s not entirely known what triggers alopecia but majority of cases are linked to stress, shock or illness
The good news is if you’re losing your hair because you’re stressed there are things you can do. Yoga, walking, meditation, spending time in nature and practicing mindfulness have all been proven to reduce stress.
It’s also important to note that hair loss associated with stress is not immediate; it can present itself up to 12 weeks after a stressful event.
One of the great joys of being a woman is our hormones. Those pesky things can affect just about every single part of our physical and mental wellbeing, including our hair. Whilst female hormones like oestrogen are great for hair growth its male counterparts aren’t so great. If you’re suffering from a hormonal imbalance excess androgens (the name for male hormones) can shorten the growth cycle of your hair.
Our hormones can also be affected by things like pregnancy, polycystic ovaries and thyroid imbalances. If you think your thinning hair might be due to your hormones, book an appointment with your doctor who will be able to run a few easy tests and put you on the right course of treatment.
Diet & Deficiency
One of the biggest causes of hair loss is nutrient deficiency. If you’re not eating a balanced diet your body isn’t getting the right nutrients it needs to keep it healthy. When this happens you body prioritises getting vitamins and nutrients to your vital organs of which your hair, unfortunately, isn’t one.
Iron is essential in creating hair cell protein and if you’re low in iron it this can seriously effect the growth cycle of your hair. Favour iron rich foods like red meat, spinach, dried fruits and pumpkin seeds. Make sure to wash your iron rich foods down with a glass of orange juice which is proven to help the body’s iron absorption process. Supplements like Feroglobin and Floradix can be bought at most pharmacies and are great if you’re struggling to up your iron levels through diet alone.
A lack of vitamin B12 can also spell bad news for our hair. Vitamin B12 helps keep red blood cells healthy which are responsible for getting oxygen around your body. If you’re suffering from a B12 deficiency you’ll feel tired and lethargic. You’ll find you’re suffering from mouth ulcers and your mood is very low. Vitamin B12 can be found in meat like beef and chicken, in eggs, in low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese and in fish and shellfish.
A balanced diet for healthy hair growth should include lots of protein and healthy carbohydrates. You can also help boost your body’s nutrient levels by using multivitamins and supplements.
Dramatic weight loss can also affect your hair’s growth and cause it to fall out. If you’ve lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time, either through diet or illness, this puts undue stress on the body. As noted earlier stress can cause hair to prematurely enter the telogen cycle and fall out.
Drastic weight loss usually equals poor diet and as your body struggles to get the right nutrients around your body your hair will suffer. It’s important to lose weight in a sensible and controlled way, making sure you still nourish your body with all the right nutrients it needs. The good news is if you’ve lost hair due to extreme weight loss this is easily fixable once you begin to eat a balanced diet again and reach a healthy weight.
Unfortunately for some, hair loss might just be in your genes. If members of your close family have experienced gradual thinning of their hair, there is a chance you could too. In these instances hair follicles become sensitive to male hormones which then causes the hair follicle to shrink and produce shorter, finer hairs.
In cases of genetics there isn’t much you can do to encourage hair to regrow. Shorter hair styles can help disguise thin hair but remember thin hair isn’t something to be ashamed of.
Other Factors Affecting Hair Loss
As we get older our hair will naturally start to thin as part of the ageing process. As we enter menopause changes to our hormones and body can affect how much hair we lose and how much grows back.
Certain hairstyles can cause stress on the hair follicle, making it become weakened over time, eventually causing the hair to fall out. If you often wear your hair pulled up in tight ponytails or in tight braids you might notice hair loss in certain areas where the hair is being pulled too tightly, usually around the hairline; instead switch up your hair styles and favour lower and looser ponytails and braids. Use hair extensions sparingly as these can also cause stress on the hair follicle.
Certain medications can affect your hair, causing it to fall out and feel thinner. Acne medications, anti fungal drugs and even the contraceptive pill are just a few things that can have affect on your hair. In most cases your hair will begin to grow back once you stop the medication but if you have concerns that you’re losing too much hair, seek medical advice immediately.
Coping With Hair Loss
Losing your hair can be scary and stressful but it’s important to try and stay calm as your explore why this might be happening. Female hair loss is incredibly common and becoming stressed or worried about it will only make the situation worse. Stick to a healthy balanced diet and ensure you spend time looking after your mind and body and you’ll soon notice your locks will grow back as thick and healthy as they were before.