The human head sheds up to 100 strands of hair every day. This type of hair loss is completely normal. However, some women (and many men) face hair loss that is visible and often, irreversible.
Male pattern baldness gets more discussion, but female pattern baldness is actually very common.
Studies show that 1 in 3 women suffer from hair loss in their lifetime. This can be caused by genetics or environmental and situational triggers (stress, hormones, etc.) Age is also a common cause. Some people choose to embrace their hair loss while others use scarves, hats or other means of hiding the hair loss.
However, there are natural and medical treatments options that can be pursued if you feel self-conscious or embarrassed by your hair loss.
Causes for your hair to fall out
There are two types of causes for hair loss, either genetic causes or reactive causes. Genetic hair loss is passed down the family tree. Some people are hereditary predisposed for hair loss. Reactive hair loss is triggered by internal or external factors, such as crash diets, stress, medical conditions or other reasons.
The main reactive hair loss causes are:
Stress takes a major toll on the body. Hair loss is a potential physical manifestation of stress. Stress raises the levels of hormones in the body and that change in hormones can result in hair loss, dandruff and other scalp problems.
Some types of medications can have a side effect of hair loss. Unlike other types of hair loss, there is a chance of the hair growing back once the medication stops being taken. Drugs to treat cancer, depression, gout, arthritis and high blood pressure all have possible hair loss as a side effect.
Infections and fevers can result in hair loss, as can some types of surgeries. An overactive or underactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively) can cause hair loss. The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism and protein production. The hair follicles can be affected by a thyroid imbalance.
An iron deficiency, also known as anemia, can also be a cause of hair loss. Iron is an essential protein for hair growth.
Dramatic Weight Loss
Crash diets that result in a dramatic weight loss can also cause excessive hair shedding. This is due to a nutritional deficiency caused by an imbalanced diet. The hair loss after extreme weight loss usually occurs within six weeks. A well-balanced diet can help prevent hair loss associated with weight loss.
For women, menopause can throw your hormones out of whack, which is a major cause of hair loss. Hair also gets thinner as we age. Like wrinkles, it’s something that is a natural part of aging.
Hormones have a huge part in controlling the hair growth cycle. When your hormones are off balance, you can experience weight gain, acne and, yes, hair loss. Hormone imbalances can be caused by age (menopause), pregnancy and thyroid issues.
Wearing hats too often or ponytails too tight can cause traction alopecia, a type of hair loss. Hot oil treatments are also quite unhealthy for hair follicles and can cause hair loss.
Trichotillomania is a syndrome that causes people to pull out their own hair. This can obviously cause patches of baldness and hair loss.
Can you regrow hair after hair loss?
Whether your hair grows back after hair loss depends on the cause of the hair loss in the first place. If the hair follicle is damaged or otherwise closed, new hair won’t be able to grow. If the hair follicle is still open, then, yes, it is possible to for the hair to grow back with treatments and improving the health of the existing hair.
How do you stop your hair from falling out?
If your hair loss is caused by genetics, there isn’t much you can do to prevent it. However, if your hair loss is caused by any of the triggers above, you might be able to prevent the hair loss from happening.
Here are some tips to prevent reactive hair loss:
Stop Touching Your Hair
Pulling and twisting your hair can cause hair damage. Many women subconsciously play with their hair by twisting it around their fingers. It eases boredom, but can also contribute to hair loss.
Avoid Tight Ponytails
Some hairstyles – such as tight ponytails, pigtails and cornrows – can make your hair fall out. If the hair follicle is damaged, there is less of a chance of the hair regrowing. Ponytails and other tight hairstyles also cause headaches and vision problems.
Use Wide-Toothed Comb
Excessive hair brushing can also damage the hair follicles, especially if your hair is wet. After a shower, always use a comb to detangle your hair, never a brush. Wide-toothed combs are best for wet or dry hair of all hair types.
Avoid Heat Products & Instruments
Products that heat your hair, such as hot oil treatments, are actually more harmful than helpful. The heat can break apart the hair follicle and prevent regrowth during the next hair cycle. Blow dryers, curlers and other instruments that use heat should be used only sporadically.
Easier said than done, but stress is bad for your overall health. It can cause acne outbreaks, decreased immune system and even hair loss. Noticeable bald patches and other hair problems are part of the cause of stress for some people. But you can use scarves or hats to help hid the situation in an effort to reduce your stress level.
What are the first signs of balding?
How much hair loss you suffer and where on your body is different for every person. Some people have hair loss that appears suddenly or happens gradually. Others suffer hair loss just on their scalp while others have it all affect their entire body. For some people, the hair loss is only temporary but others may never see their hair regrow.
The first signs of balding could include:
Full-body hair loss
Hair loss that occurs all over the body is usually due to chemotherapy drugs. The hair typically grows back once the treatment is over, but the hair loss is quite noticeable and can be shocking.
Clumps of loose hair
Aside from medical reasons, a stressful event in your life can cause clumps of hair to come out suddenly. The best remedy for this is to avoid the stressful situations or seek professional help to overcome the situation.
Patchy bald spots
Patchy or circular bald spots generally only occur on the scalp. It’s usually caused by genetics and comes on suddenly. The skin can be itchy and painful prior to the hair loss.
If the patches are red, swollen or oozing, you should seek medical attention. Those are the symptoms of ringworm.
The gradual thinning of hair on the top of the head is the most common symptom of hair loss. As men age, their hairline tends to recede from the forehead. Women, however, usually keep their hairline but experience a widening of their natural parting of the hair.
Hair growth treatments
The most popular topical treatment for hair loss is the brand Rogaine. The brand originally catered to men, but they now have a women’s line of hair treatments, as well. The main ingredient in Rogaine is Minoxidil. The topical cream is gently massaged into the scalp every day in the hopes that it will stimulate hair growth. It’s not effective for everyone and it can take up to a year to have visible results. Some people experience itching and redness while using the topical medication, while others experience hair loss after they stop using the treatment.
The Minoxidil treatments can be found in any pharmacy with a hair care aisle and is relatively affordable.
Spironolactone is a common medication for female pattern baldness. The oral medication is a diuretic, which flushes out excess water from the body. Some hair loss is caused by the production of the hormone androgen and the spironolactone can block the production to prevent hair loss.
If you have hair loss in only one area of the scalp, a doctor can perform a hair transplant. The operation involves transplanting hair from one area of the scalp to another. The patient is given a local anesthetic to ease the pain during the hours-long surgery.
There are laser treatments that can be done at home to reverse hair loss. The lasers emit a low level of light that is supposed to stimulate hair growth. This treatment is relatively new and there isn’t much research on the success rate of the procedure.
You should seek a doctor’s opinion before proceeding with any of these hair loss treatments.
5 Natural hair growth treatments
If you prefer not to use chemicals or oral medications, there are natural solutions that help stimulate hair growth and make hair healthier.
Here are 5 natural remedies for hair loss:
Aloe vera can condition the hair and soothe an irritated scalp. The body’s hair follicles naturally produce oil to keep the scalp moisturized, but sometimes it can overproduce. The excess oil can cause blocked hair follicles and dandruff. Aloe vera has been known to clear hair follicle blockages and ease dandruff.
To use aloe vera on your hair, you can apply the gel directly to your scalp or use a shampoo infused with aloe vera.
A common cause of hair loss is the body’s reduced production of protein. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that stimulate the production of protein for healthy hair. While coconut oil hasn’t been proven effective in hair growth, it’s been used for centuries to prove hair health and give it shine.
The coconut oil can be left in the hair overnight for dry hair or washed out after a few hours.
Like coconut oil, fish oil contains healthy fatty acids that bolster hair from the inside of the hair shaft. The omega fatty acids found in fish oil contain antioxidants that improve the thickness of hair, along with other benefits to your body, such as boosting immunity.
Fish oil can be taken as a supplement.
Ginseng has been shown to stimulate the hair follicles and encourage hair growth. The ginseng supplements can be found in pharmacies and should be taken as directed.
Lemon juice or lemon oil can be used to improve the quality and growth of your hair. The lemon also helps keep your scalp healthy. You can apply the lemon juice or oil directly to your scalp, but it’s recommended that you use it before showering or you’ll smell like lemons all day.
Another way to stimulate hair growth is by massaging your scalp every night before bed. This technique can result in thicker hair, as well as releasing built-up tension in your body. You can use the hair masks and oils in addition to the scalp massage to encourage hair growth.