14 Surprising Things That Can Cause Hair Loss News


Have you ever lost more hair than normal and freaked out
thinking you were going bald?

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Hair loss is considered to be any shift in your normal hair
pattern: losing more than what you would typically
experience, thinning in certain areas of the scalp, bald
patches, etc. It’s actually very common, but also
typically very stressful.

So BuzzFeed Health spoke with Dr.
Lindsey Bordone, dermatologist at ColumbiaDoctors
Midtown, Dr.
Arielle R. Nagler, assistant professor of dermatology at
NYU Langone Medical Center, and
Dr. Dawn Marie Davis, dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic,
to find out why hair loss happens and what you can do about
it.

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In order to understand hair loss, it’s important to first
understand how hair grows.

In order to understand hair loss, it's important to first understand how hair grows.

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Alphabetmn / Via Getty Images

Each individual strand of hair goes through the anagen
stage
, which is essentially when it’s growing out of the
hair follicle, Davis tells BuzzFeed Health. This is the
longest stage, which can last several years for each strand
of hair.

Then it goes through the catagen phase, which is the
resting stage, where the hair is just chilling for about 10
days, waiting to transition to the telogen phase, the
“shedding phase,” which is when the hair begins to fall out,
she explains. Then the whole process starts all over again.

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While there are lots of things that can contribute to hair
loss, there are three main disorders that disrupt the growth
process and can cause your hair to fall out:

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Telogen effluvium is a typically reversible
condition in which your hair starts falling out due to an
extremely stressful event, says Bordone. Your brain tells
your body to conserve energy, making your hair go into
survival mode. Because your body doesn’t want to spend energy
on growing your hair, it reaches the telogen phase quicker,
causing you to lose hair in up to three months from that
stressful event.

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male/female
pattern hair loss,
is genetic and is usually described as feeling like your hair
is gradually thinning out, as opposed to losing a lot of hair
at one time, Davis explains. Your hair follicles are
gradually shrinking — due to the stimulation of the follicle
by testosterone — until they ultimately shrivel and die so
the hair can no longer grow.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which
the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Davis says that
this is typically characterized by losing large clumps of
hair at once. Rarely, small patches of alopecia areata can
progress to alopecia totatlis (total baldness) or alopecia
universalis (complete loss of body hair altogether).

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Keeping that in mind, here are some things that dermatologists
find contribute to these disorders or just hair loss in
general:

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1. Genetics
— from both sides of your family

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How genetics affects hair loss is complicated and still being
heavily researched, Nagler says. “Basically, genetics plays a
hand in all hair loss, but some types of hair loss are caused
by other things besides just genetics.”

But it’s a myth that balding is solely dependent on the
genetics from your mother’s side of the family, says Nagler.
Put simply, if you have a history of balding in either of
your parents’ families, then it’s more likely you’ll go bald
than if you don’t. Balding is also more prevalent in men than
it is in women.

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2. Keeping
your hair pulled back in tight styles

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Bordone says a lot of women will make hair loss worse, or
increase their chances of hair loss, by consistently using
chronically tight hairstyles — like pulling your hair back in
tight ponytails, braiding it regularly, etc.

“Some people with finer hair, that isn’t as hearty, may be
more susceptible to hair loss from chronic tension, also
known as traction alopecia,” Bardone explains. “People will
probably notice it most by the bitemporal scalp (both sides
of the skull from your temple, above your ears, to the bottom
of your hair line).”

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5.
Consistently ~yo-yo dieting~ or being malnourished

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“If your body never knows when it’s going to get its next
meal, what type of meal that’s going to be, or how much food
it’s going to get, that can be really scary and stressful for
your body, potentially leading to hair loss,” Bordone says.
“Sometimes the wear and tear on your hair can be an overall
sign of your health, which is seen with things like chronic
eating disorders.”

If you lose weight in a healthy way, your body will find a
new baseline and won’t experience hair loss, she says. That’s
why she recommends treating yourself well and having balance
in your life, because your hair will reflect that.

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8. Having
an underactive or overactive thyroid

Having an underactive or overactive thyroid

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Your thyroid hormones regulate energy levels and help control
a lot of the way your body functions — helping the body stay
warm, maintaining metabolism, and keeping your heart, brain,
muscles and organs fully operational so that you’re in good
health, Nagler explains.

She says that
hypothyroidism (having an underactive thyroid) can lead
to dry, brittle hair, as well as thinning, while
hyperthyroidism (having an overactive thyroid) can result
in hair thinning and excess shedding. In some cases the
damage here can be reversible, which is why Nagler recommends
getting a blood test done if you’re experiencing hair
thinning and excess shedding.

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9. Taking
certain medications

Taking certain medications

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Hero Images / Via Getty Images

Bordone says there are some medications that have been tied
to hair loss, such as chemotherapy drugs, some blood pressure
medications, hormonal medications, and migraine and seizure
medications. If you’ve started a new medication recently, it
may be worth talking to your doctor about this as a possible
side effect.

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10. Getting
the flu

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Getting the flu or having a really high fever can lead to
stress hair loss, says Nagler. Being that sick can cause your
hair follicles to go into survival mode, meaning your body is
trying to put all it’s energy into fighting off the virus —
taking away energy from functions it deems not necessary
(like hair growth).

She says that in most cases you’ll start to see the hair loss
three months after a high fever or flu and, like other
telogen effluvium cases, the hair loss is usually reversible.

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11. Living
with an autoimmune disorder

Living with an autoimmune disorder

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If you’re noticing rapid hair loss symptoms — clumps of hair
falling out or bald patches — it could be beneficial to get a
blood test to check for an autoimmune disease, Davis
explains.

Sometimes when patients have autoimmune diseases, their body
will decide the proteins in hair are foreign and bad,
attacking and eating away at the hair bulb every time a hair
tries to enter the growth phase, which can cause you to lose
those hairs (in some cases, overnight.) The damage can be
temporary or permanent depending on how severe the
inflammation and scarring of the follicle is.

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13. Having
high levels of testosterone

Having high levels of testosterone

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Makaule / Via Getty Images

Davis says your chances of losing hair could increase when
you have higher levels of testosterone, specifically DHT
testosterone. You can also have higher levels of receptors on
your hair follicles that are more susceptible to the DHT.

This type of hair loss is predominantly caused by genetics,
but Davis says watching you’re added testosterone intake
could help. She recommends making sure you don’t use any
supplements that aren’t heavily tested or aren’t approved by
the FDA, not using anabolic steroids, and making sure you ask
your doctor about any weight-gain supplements.

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14. Aging
and menopause

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Bordone says if you’re genetically predisposed to hair loss,
there’s a possibility that as you age you’ll experience a
slow thinning of your hair, also known as pattern hair loss.
Most cases for men start with thinning in the crown and
bitemporal scalp, whereas females will usually see it start
in the crown and thin outwards.

“What’s happening is the hair follicles are still there and
intact, but they’re shrinking, which is probably a
hormone-mediated process, and therefore they can’t produce
those thick hairs you’re used to seeing,” she explains. “This
happens as people age and it also happens when women go
through menopause.”

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Important note: If you’re experiencing hair loss and your
concerned, the best thing you can do is check in with your
doctor.

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Instead of trying to self-diagnose, Davis says it’s important
for patients who notice a decrease in hair density to visit
their physicians right away so they can conduct tests that
will help the patient better understand why it’s happening
and figure out the optimal treatment.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that in many
situations hair loss can be reversible,” Bordone says. “But
people fall for gimmicks and spend thousands of dollars on
products that don’t work. That’s why you should always seek a
consultation with a professional so we can do a blood test,
look at your family history, and figure out the best way to
treat you.”

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