Hair falls out for a multitude of reasons—many of them mundane. In fact, you usually lose about 100 hairs from your head on any given day. This is nothing more than run-of-the-mill shedding, but if your hairline or your hair’s thickness are changing noticeably, you may be seeing signs of hair loss.
Hair loss occurs when the hair growth cycle is disrupted or when hair follicles are destroyed. It can be the result of hereditary conditions, hormonal changes, medical complications, medications, and more.
Here are a few of the top reasons that your hair may be falling out:
Hormones have a hand in hair growth—or lack thereof. For instance, abnormal levels of androgens (hormones that primarily influence the development of the male reproductive system) can contribute to hair loss.
Medical conditions, including—but not limited to—anemia, diabetes, eating disorders, iron deficiency, lupus, and thyroid disease can cause hair loss. The good news is that the hair usually returns once the underlying condition has been treated.
Diet can affect hair health. If your diet’s low on iron-rich foods, you may not be getting enough of the protein ferritin, which plays a critical role in iron storage and has been shown to impact your body’s ability to produce hair. Additionally, severely limiting calorie intake can lead to temporary hair loss. In other words: Eat up!
Autoimmune disease can cause alopecia areata, a condition that causes hair to fall out in round patches.
Infections and skin conditions
Infections and skin conditions can do a number on the scalp, leading to hair loss. If ringworm (a fungal infection) develops on the scalp, it can cause patches of hair loss called “tinea capitis.”
If it is severe enough, folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles) can permanently destroy hair follicles and leave small bald patches in its wake. Piedra (a hair disease caused by fungus) deposits hard nodules on hair fibers, weakening them and making them susceptible to breakage.
Hair care can contribute to hair loss, too, even though it seems counterintuitive. For instance, if you use hot tools (think flat irons or blow dryers) to style your hair, you can make it weak and brittle over time. Likewise, certain hairstyles, such as very tight braids and hair extensions, can also cause tension that eventually leads to hair breakage.