Hair Loss Center

Hair Loss Causes and Risk Factors

What causes hair loss?
Anyone can experience hair loss, including men, women and children. Baldness typically refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp and can be the result of heredity, certain medications or an underlying medical condition. A number of causes for hair loss can be identified. These include:

Age - Hairs break more easily, and hair follicles do not grow as much hair.

Birth control pills - More likely for women with inherited tendency of hair thinning.

Blow-drying - extreme heat can damage hair proteins, making them fragile and liable to break off.

Brushing - Brushing the hair during blow-drying can causes more damage to hair proteins.

Cancer treatment drugs - Chemotherapy drugs can cause hair cells to stop dividing 1-3 weeks after beginning treatment. Hair shafts become thin and break off as they exit the scalp. Total hair loss usually recovers after treatment ends.

Childbirth - 2-3 months after a woman delivers her baby, many hairs enter the resting stage of the hair cycle at once and may all fall out together.

Emotional stress

Genetic predisposition - Some people are more likely to have higher levels of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which can cause pattern baldness, common baldness or androgenic alopecia.

Immune and autoimmune system responses

Inadequate protein in diet - Protein malnutrition can trigger the body to respond by sending signals that hairs enter the resting phase. Massive hair shedding can occur two to three months later. Hair can then be pulled out by the roots.

Infections - Fungal infections such as Ringworm, or tinea capitus, may cause loss of patches of hair that are replaced with pink scaly skin.

Low serum iron - Iron deficiency sometimes produces hair loss

Medications - Some types of prescription drugs (blood thinners, gout and arthritis, acne, psoriasis, or heart meds) can cause temporary hair shedding in a small percentage of people.

Thyroid disease - Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause hair loss.

Other factors - Four weeks to three months after a person has a high fever, severe infection, major surgery, or experiences significant life stress s/he may notice hair falling out. This condition usually corrects itself but may require treatment.

Hair loss can begin slowly, and progress...or can be dramatic and severe. Learn to identify symptoms of hair loss, including hair loss in women in the Hair Loss Symptoms section that follows.

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