WHAT CAUSES HAIR LOSS

What Causes Hair Loss?

Wondering what causes hair loss? Here I detail the causes of hair loss and also the types of hair loss and finally some simple tips and lifestyle changes you can adapt to reduce hair loss. 

I suffered from really bad hair loss for a brief period in my life and it was absolutely terrible! The most saddening part of my day used to be to comb my hair cause I had to see all that hair just come off. 

what causes hair loss

Growing up, I’ve always had healthy hair. I didn’t have thick hair. My hair is thin, fine and silky. And when you have thin, fine hair, hair loss becomes visible really quickly. Soon I started noticing bald spots and I decided to take matters into my own hands. 

First thing I did, obviously, was talk to my mom. I did this to find out if it has anything to do with genetics. And my mum told me she, and my grandmother too for that matter, experienced hair loss now and then especially when they were stressed more than usual. And then I realized that I was also pretty stressed around the time my hair started falling.

So I looked further into the matter and found our stress and bad lifestyle habits are a common reason for hair loss. Other than that there are also medical reasons for hair loss as well. Bad hair care and using too many styling products can also lead to hair loss. 

So I spoke to some experts and dermatologists to really understand what causes hair loss and the different types of hair loss you can experience.

What Causes Hair Loss

From what I gathered, from the internet plus speaking to a few experts about hair loss, there are five main causes of hair loss that are abnormal: 

  • Bad Lifestyle habits
  • Stress
  • Diseases such as AGA and alopecia areata
  • Excessive hair washing
  • Damage caused by heat or colorants

I’ll explain all these causes one by one below: 

Bad lifestyle habits is the most common cause for hair loss 

What exactly do I mean by bad lifestyle habits? Poor diet, bad sleeping routine, and lack of exercise are the main bad habits you need to break out of. 

It took me a while to realize that for nutrients to reach my hair and scalp I need to eat those nutrients too. Like duh! So yeah, bad food habits can lead to hair loss.

abnormal hair loss

Your hair grows depending on the nutrients and vitamins you take in. And a balanced diet usually contains all the nutrients and vitamins you need, not just for healthy hair but for healthy everything (relating to your body).

If you don’t eat enough food or don’t eat certain foods then the nutrients required will not be able to reach your hair and scalp which will eventually result in hair loss. So yes, eat your vegetables and fruits, please! 

And when I say veggies, I don’t mean the piece of lettuce on your burger! Eating too much fast food like burgers or fried chicken can increase the sebum content in your skin (and scalp) which can clog your follicles, preventing hair growth and increasing thinning of hair. 

But protein like chicken, fish, eggs are important proteins you need to have in your diet. Just prepare it in a healthy way, that’s all!

foods good for hair loss

And if you have thrown your normal sleep-wake cycle out the window, please go find it cause without proper sleep you’re not going to be able to improve your hair loss situation. 

My sleep-wake cycle was so bad that I barely got in 3-4 hours of sleep and I was constantly sleep deprived and tired. If you’re wondering how sleeping helps with hair growth, here’s a little science lesson about sleep.

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When you’re sleeping, cells get some time to repair themselves and regenerate, this is true for hair follicles as well. Our body releases a hormone called melatonin, this hormone regulates our sleep cycle. Melatonin is also shown to increase hair growth

And lastly, lack of exercise. What happens when we exercise? Our blood circulation improves which means that blood flow to the scalp also improves providing more oxygen and nutrients. And that promotes hair growth!  

Stress Can Cause Hair Loss 

Extreme emotional and mental stress can cause sudden hair loss. This comes under a type of hair loss called the telogen effluvium where the hair follicle is stuck in resting phase. 

Excessive stress disturbs the autonomic nervous system and leads to poor blood circulation in the scalp. Nutrients necessary for hair growth are carried by the blood, so poor blood circulation leads to nutrient deficiency, making it difficult for healthy hair to grow.

As a result, it also causes the hair cycle to be disrupted, leading to worsening of thinning hair.

Stress also leads to excessive sebum production. This can worsen the scalp environment and cause hair loss due to clogged pores and inflammation.

stress can cause hair loss

So now imagine constant exposure to stress coupled with a bad diet, lack of sleep and exercise – all this put together is just bad for not only your hair but your overall health! 

Medical Conditions Like AGA and alopecia areata 

AGA (male pattern baldness) is a progressive form of alopecia, in which thinning of hair progresses from the hairline, the crown of the head, or both. 

The main causes include heredity and the effects of male hormones. I have seen male pattern baldness in my family: my grandfather had it, my dad has it, and my brother is now seeing the early symptoms of male pattern baldness. 

Alopecia areata 

Alopecia areata is a medical condition that develops suddenly and is characterized by the loss of hair in a circular pattern. Some people may have more than one, and anyone is at risk of developing this disease, regardless of age or gender. 

Alopecia areata is often thought to be caused by stress, but it can also be caused by other factors such as endocrine abnormalities and autoimmune disorders.

Alopecia areata is easy to notice because hair falls out in large quantities, but AGA progresses gradually and is difficult to notice.

Excessive hair washing Can Contribute To Hair Loss

It is important to keep your hair and scalp clean. But don’t go overboard with washing your hair. When you wash your hair multiple times a day removes more sebum from the scalp than necessary, leading to dryness. 

This can lead to excessive dandruff and itching, as well as overproduction of sebum, which can lead to deterioration of the scalp environment.

In particular, shampoos with strong cleansing power can lead to inflammation problems if left unrinsed or used in the wrong amount.

Damage from heat and colorants

Hair dryers and colorants can put a heavy burden on the scalp, depending on how they are used. In the case of hair dryers, if the hair dryer is too close to the scalp when used, there is a risk of burns. 

Inflammation and rashes can also occur, which is very dangerous, not to mention damaging to the scalp.

In addition, colorants contain highly irritating ingredients such as alkalis and surfactants. Frequent use or improper use can cause scalp irritation.

People who use a hair dryer close to their scalp or use colorants frequently may be experiencing increased hair loss due to damage to the scalp.

Types of Hair Loss

There are two types of hair loss: “natural hair loss” and “abnormal hair loss. It is the abnormal hair loss that requires attention.

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The following is an explanation of the characteristics of each type of hair loss, so please check which type your hair loss corresponds to.

Natural hair loss

Each hair has a life span and naturally falls out after a certain period of time. This phenomenon is called “natural hair loss,” and it happens to everyone regardless of thinning hair.

The number of hairs that fall out per day is 50 to 100. There is no problem when hair falls out spontaneously, such as when washing hair or using a hair dryer.

Hair loss due to spontaneous shedding has a rounded, swollen tip and is shaped like the shaft of a match. When the hair is held, it remains straight without breaking.

Abnormal hair loss

Hair may fall out faster than its original lifespan due to some cause. This is called “abnormal hair loss,” and it is hair loss that should be noted.

When abnormal hair loss occurs, the amount of hair loss increases; you may notice an increase from 50 to 100 hairs per day to more than 100 hairs per day, and you may notice an increase in the number of hairs that fall out.

The tips of the hair that falls out due to abnormal hair loss are not rounded and are sharply pointed. In addition, the hair is thin and fragile, and is usually bent rather than straight.

In addition to hair loss, abnormal hair loss may also cause symptoms on the scalp. Common symptoms include abnormal dandruff and a protruding scalp. If you suspect abnormal hair loss, please check your scalp along with hair loss.

Mechanism of Hair Loss

Hair repeatedly grows and loses hair. This cycle is called the hair cycle, which consists of three phases: the growth phase, the regression phase, and the resting phase.

The growth phase is the phase in which cell division is active and the hair grows. Hair in the growth phase accounts for 80-90% of all hair and lasts for 3-6 years. 

If abnormal hair loss is occurring, it is expected that the duration of this growth phase has been shortened for some reason.

After the growth phase comes the regression phase. During the regression phase, cell division is reduced and hair growth slows. It accounts for about 1% of all hair and lasts for a period of two to three weeks. It is easily shed and often falls out when shampooing or brushing.

The resting phase, which comes after the regression phase, is the stage when cell division completely stops and hair stops growing. The hair follicles atrophy and begin to prepare for the next growth phase. 

The regression phase, which accounts for 10-20% of all hairs, lasts about 2-3 months. When cell division resumes in the growth phase, the old hair naturally falls out as if pushed out by the new hair.

hair growth cycle 1

If the hair cycle repeats normally, hair loss should be limited to natural hair loss. However, if the hair cycle is disrupted and the growth phase is shortened, the amount of hair loss will gradually begin to increase.

Lifestyle habits to improve hair loss

To improve hair loss, you can start by reviewing your lifestyle habits. Specifically, there are five ways to improve hair loss

(1) Improve lifestyle habits

(2) Take care of stress

(3) Treat your hair at a clinic

(4) Review your hair care

(5) Use hair growth products

It is a hurdle to suddenly start hair loss treatment. Let’s start with what you can do in your own way.

Improve lifestyle habits

In terms of lifestyle habits, improve three things: unbalanced diet, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise. Specifically, the following improvements are necessary.

  • Take in a good balance of protein, vitamins, and zinc.
  • Ensure adequate hours of sleep and good quality of sleep 
  • Get into the habit of physical exercise, such as stretching and walking.
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These are all things you can start doing today. Let’s be a little conscious of them to prevent hair loss from increasing.

Take care of stress

It is difficult to lead a stress-free life, so let’s focus on stress care here.

For example, it is recommended that you find something to do to relieve stress, such as exercising and sweating, or enjoying a hobby. If you relieve stress, you will be able to cope better with unpleasant situations at work, at home, or in your relationships.

Worrying too much about thinning hair can also lead to stress. It is also important not to think too much about it.

Treatment at a clinic

If you suspect a medical condition like AGA or alopecia areata, treatment at a clinic is recommended. Clinics offer medication, injections, hair transplants, and other treatments that are appropriate for the symptoms and the individual. It is a good idea to consult with a clinic.

However, some treatments may not be covered by insurance. In particular, AGA treatment can be expensive, so it is best to check before visiting a clinic.

Improve your hair care routine

Improper hair care can damage the scalp. Since each hair care treatment is a burden, reviewing your hair care can reduce damage to the scalp.

For example, washing hair too much removes more sebum from the scalp than necessary, so washing hair once a day is recommended. If you need to wash your hair more than twice a day, for example because of perspiration or dirt, simply rinsing with lukewarm water will remove some of the dirt.

Also, for shampooing, try the following procedure.

  • Comb through hair to remove dirt
  • Wash scalp and hair with lukewarm water
  • Massage the scalp with the appropriate amount of shampoo.
  • Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water to ensure that no shampoo is left behind
  • When washing the scalp and hair, do not use fingernails.

Use hair growth products

If you are suffering from hair loss, it is recommended to try using a hair growth product. Hair growth products can be expected to remove dirt from pores and sebum, and help regulate the scalp environment. 

By improving the scalp environment, hair loss can be suppressed and an environment conducive to hair growth can be created.

Here are some blogs about hair loss products you can try: 

Start taking action against hair loss as soon as possible.

Increased hair loss can be controlled by improving lifestyle habits. It is advisable to review your diet, sleep, stress, hair care, etc.

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