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What Can Cause Your Hair To Thin

Traumatic Hair Styling And Inflammation

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So far, we have discussed non-scarring types of hair loss, where the hair follicles are still alive and hair can regrow. This is in contrast to scarring hair loss, where hair follicles are destroyed and hair cannot regrow.

Inflammation is the ultimate cause of scarring hair loss. The scalp might appear red. Common symptoms include itching, burning, and pain. Infections and certain inflammatory skin conditions can cause hair follicle destruction. Traumatic hair styling practices like heat styling, chemical hair treatments, and tight hairstyles can also cause scarring hair loss.

With hair loss caused by inflammation, you want to stop the inflammation in time to prevent irreversible damage. Most often, dermatologists will do this with specific medications, depending on the cause and how bad the hair loss has gotten. Unfortunately, many people delay seeking treatment and end up with permanent scarring. Cortisone injections, along with topical minoxidil, can stimulate some hair growth. If the scarring is extensive, a hair transplant might be an option.

Those Hot Tools Are Too Hot

Using a few hot rollers can add body to your hair, but if you go overboard with heat tools, you risk doing damage. “Just because a styling tool goes up to 400 degrees or more doesn’t mean you should be using it on the highest setting,” warns Penna. Hot tools can damage the cuticle, promoting hair breakage. He also recommends always using a heat protectant before styling with hot tools to avoid scorching your hair.

What Is Traction Alopecia

This is a small or localized hair loss area caused by repetitive or persistent pulling or traction on hair roots.

  • Tight braids and ponytails can pull hard enough on hairs to make them fall out. If this happens, it’s best to choose hairstyles that put less tension on the hair.
  • Doing this sooner helps to avoid permanent damage.

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Medical And Other Conditions

If hair follicles are uniform in size, or if the hair loss is sudden, it is likely to be caused by something other than heredity, like a medical condition, Rogers says.

There are a wide range of conditions that can bring on hair loss, with some of the most common being pregnancy, thyroid disorders, and anemia. Others include autoimmune diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome , and skin conditions such as psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, Rogers says.

Though there has been a link between menopause and hair loss, Roberts says she doesnât think there is a direct correlation. It could be that menopause and hair loss just occur at the same age.

Other reasons for hair loss include extreme stress physical trauma like surgery or intense illness dramatic weight loss over a short period of time and taking too much Vitamin A, Roberts says. And hair loss can occur a couple of weeks to six months after any of these experiences.

âSomeone can have surgery and be just fine and then two weeks later their hair starts falling out,â Roberts says. âIt can be very scary when it starts falling out in big clumps.â

Dandruff Or Scalp Psoriasis

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When the skin on the scalp is inflamed and itchy, its obviously tempting to scratch it. But that may cause your hair to shed more than usual.

Dandruff is the most easily treated cause of hair loss, Dr. Fusco says, because you can treat it with over-the-counter products, like a shampoo containing zinc pyrithione or exfoliating ingredients such as the classic Head & Shoulders Classic or Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo . “Consistency is the trick,” Dr. Fusco says, so it’s important to find a shampoo and conditioner you like enough to use regularly.

But other conditions can also cause itchiness and scalp flaking, including seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis . Treating these issues may take more time and effort than dandruff, so its important to check in with a dermatologist if you think you may be dealing with one of these conditions.

Also Check: What Kind Of Doctor To See About Hair Loss

Medications That Cause Hair Loss In Females

Hormone therapies can trigger hormone imbalances in women, causing hair loss and potentially causing permanent female pattern baldness.

Birth control pills used for contraception and hormone replacement therapies , like progesterone and estrogen, are examples. Women who have undergone a full hysterectomy, for example, require ongoing HRT after surgery.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • What is causing my hair loss?
  • Is there a treatment that will work for me?
  • How long will it be before my hair grows back?
  • Will my hair grow back the same, or will the texture be different?
  • I have a fungal infection. How long will it take for the medicine to start working?
  • Should I change my hairstyle?
  • Can I do anything to make my hair look fuller?

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When To See A Doctor For Thinning Hair

Although its common to lose hair throughout the day, its a good idea to speak with your doctor if youre losing more than 100 hairs per day.

You should also talk with your doctor if youre worried about persistent hair loss or a receding hairline, or if you notice sudden patchy hair loss. Patches of hair loss could signify an underlying medical condition.

Taking Oral Birth Control Pills

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If youre one of the many women who are sensitive to hair shedding or thinning due to hormonal changes, the wrong oral birth control can weaken your hair. A pill that contains androgens can cause hair loss for someone whos androgen sensitive and doesnt know it, says Dr. Bauman.

Save your strands: Switch to low-androgen index birth control pills like norgestimate , norethindrone , desogestrel , or ethynodiol diacetate . If you want to know whether you have an androgen sensitivity, a hair restoration physician can perform a quick cheek-swab genetic test.

MORE:The Crazy Link Between The Pill And Inflammation

Also Check: Why Do I Have A Lot Of Hair Loss

Cosmetic Options For Hair Loss

When medical treatments fall short, women can also consider cosmetic options to make up for lost hair, such as wearing a wig. At the other end of the spectrum is hair transplantation, a surgical procedure that moves active follicles from the back of the scalp to areas where the hair is thinning. Once transplanted, the hair grows normally.

Hair transplantation is typically performed as an outpatient surgical procedure. In appropriate patients, it can be extremely successful, but it wont work for everyone, says Dr. Scott. One drawback is the expense: it can cost thousands of dollars and is not covered by insurance. The procedure also requires recovery time. And it may not be appropriate for women who have diffuse thinning across the whole scalp. Its more effective in treating smaller, more defined areas of balding.

What Are Some Tips For Dealing With Hair Loss In Women

There are some things you can do on your own. You might check with your stylist or try some of these:

  • Coloring your hair adds volume to the strands, making your hair seem fuller.
  • Massaging your head, like when you are washing your hair, can stimulate blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles.
  • Getting your hair cut shorter, and having layers added, can make your hair seem fuller.
  • Using the right kind of shampoo can also help. Look for a shampoo that adds volume without using sulfate detergents.
  • Using the right kind of product at the right time can also help. There are products that add volume that you add while your hair is still wet. However, using too much product can add weight.

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Medications And Hair Loss

Hair loss is a common side effect of many medications. Most of the time, these drugs only cause temporary hair loss that goes away once youve adjusted to or stopped taking the medicine.

These medications damage the hair follicles themselves, disrupting growth at different stages.

Two kinds of hair loss may occur. One is telogen effluvium, or short-term, temporary hair loss. This occurs in the resting phase of the hair follicle, but new hair growth continues.

Another type of hair loss often caused by medications is anagen effluvium. This is a longer-term type and often also includes thinning or loss of other body hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes. Anagen effluvium takes place in the hairs new growth phase.

Here are some of the types of medications that can cause hair loss as a side effect.

What Are The Cycles Of Hair Growth

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Hair goes through three cycles:

  • The anagen phase can last from two years to eight years. This phase generally refers to about 85% to 90% of the hair on your head.
  • The catagen phase is the time that hair follicles shrink and takes about two to three weeks.
  • The telogen phase takes about two to four months. At the end of this phase, the hair falls out.

Your shorter hairs like eyelashes, arm and leg hair and eyebrows have a short anagen phase about one month. Your scalp hair can last up to six years or even longer.

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Thinning Hair Following Pregnancy

Other hormonal imbalances can also lead to hair loss, especially the wildly fluctuating hormones that occur following pregnancy and childbirth. It takes time after pregnancy for hormone levels to return to normal, so it’s not at all uncommon for post-partum moms to notice thinning hair or even patches of baldness. This often occurs about three months after babys arrival. Don’t worry as the rest of your body recovers, so will your hair follicles. The hair loss is only temporary your hair will grow back.

Your Cut Is Too Blunt

“For ladies with shoulder-length hair or longer, cuts that lack any kind of layering can definitely make hair appear thinner,” says Scrivo. On top of cutting layers through, she advises adding face-framing pieces, whether it’s a side-swept bang or a few traditional layers.

Bonus: If you want to make your hair look thicker in no time, be sure to check out our tips for getting full, voluminous hair.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

  • What is the cause of my hair loss?
  • How many strands of hair am I losing per day?
  • What type of hair loss do I have?
  • Will my hair loss be permanent?
  • Whats the best treatment for me?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Hair loss may cause you distress whether it happens because of genetics, a disease, or even stress. Know that there are some treatments you can try, and expert dermatologists are there to help you. Your hair loss may be able to be reversed. See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice something wrong because the sooner you start treatment, the better.

Solution: Control The Heat

How to Stop Shedding, Thinning & Hair Loss

“I highly recommend everyone uses heated hair tools that have a temperature gauge, so you can lower it,” says the hair stylist Neil Moodie. “This will cause less stress to the hair shaft.” Ghds Helios Hairdryer and Dyson’s Supersonic are two great examples, while avoiding going over the same section of hair with a temperature-controlled pair of straighteners or curling iron can help minimise the damage too. You should also double the protection by using a heat defence spray and towel dry your hair gently but thoroughly before picking up your tools to minimise the time spent using them.

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A Stressful Life Event

Out of nowhere, you notice a lot of hair falling out. You see it on your pillow, on the floor, on your clothes, and stuck in the shower drain. Hair seems to come out so easily, youre afraid to brush it. The medical term for this is telogen effluvium.

During a telogen effluvium, it might feel like you are going to go bald. Rest assured you wont. Telogen effluvium is a response to stress. Excess hair shedding starts 2 to 3 months after a stressful physical or emotional event and peaks about 4 to 5 months later. Over time, your body readjusts and the hair gradually stops falling out. Within 6 to 9 months, things go back to normal.

Stressful life events like losing a loved one, going through surgery, or being diagnosed with a serious illness can all increase your risk for hair loss. But hair loss itself can be stressful, too, which can lead to a vicious cycle. Remember: Telogen effluvium is temporary you will not go bald from it, and your hair will come back. In most cases, no treatment is necessary.

Is Hair Loss In Women Different Than Men

Female-pattern baldness

Women lose hair on an inherited basis, too, but female pattern hair loss tends to be more diffuse, with less likelihood of the crown and frontal hairline being lost.

  • Although some women may notice hair thinning as early as their 20s, the pace of hair loss tends to be gradual, often taking years to become obvious to others.
  • There seems to be a normal physiologic thinning that comes with age and occurs in many women in their early to mid-30s.
  • More women have underlying causes of hair loss than men. These include treatable conditions like anemia and thyroid disease and polycystic ovary syndrome .
  • These conditions are diagnosed by blood tests along with historical and physical evidence.
  • Although a few studies have suggested that baldness may be inherited through the mother’s family genes, these theories require further testing.
  • Current studies are inconclusive. Although not indicated for female pattern balding, spironolactone has had some success in treating this condition.
  • While stories about hats choking off follicles or long hair pulling on the roots may be more folklore, repeat hair trauma like tightly woven hair pulled back and consistent friction can potentially worsen or cause localized hair loss in some individuals. Individuals who pull their hair tightly back in a rubber band can develop a localized hair loss at the front of the scalp.

    Hair loss “myths” of special concern to women

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    Not Washing Hair Often Enough

    Now that dry shampoo is a staple in most of our beauty arsenals, its easier than ever to skip a few days between washing. Convenient? Yes. But not so great for your hair: A buildup of product or excessive dandruff on the scalp has been shown to clog hair follicles, and if its bad enough, it can be difficult for hair to grow, says Dr. Day.

    Save your strands: There’s nothing wrong with skipping shampoo for a day. But if it becomes a habit, product residue, dirt, and oil can clog pores in the scalp. Be sure to wash your hair every two days, especially if youre sweating or using lots of products. To prevent excessive dryness, switch to a sulfate-free shampoo like LOreal Paris Ever Strong Thickening Shampoo .

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