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Hair Health: Surprising Reasons Your Hair Is Falling Out

You’re on Certain Meds

Side effects from some medications may cause hair loss.

Take another look at the side effects of the drugs you’re taking -- hair loss may be on the list. Examples of such meds include blood thinners, acne medications high in vitamin A, anabolic steroids, or medications for arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems, or high blood pressure.

You Just Had a Baby

Many women experience hair loss after having a baby.

When you’re pregnant, your hormones keep your hair from falling out as often as it normally does. That makes it seem thicker and more luscious. After you give birth, you lose the extra hair you’ve been hanging onto as your hormones shift again. Everything should balance out about 3 to 6 months later.

You Don’t Have Enough Iron

Low iron causes hair loss, weakness, brittle nails, and other symptoms.

Iron helps keep your hair healthy. When levels drop, so can your hair. You’ll likely have other clues that low iron is to blame for your hair loss, like brittle nails, yellow or pale skin, shortness of breath, weakness, and a fast heartbeat.

You’re Stressed

Stress may trigger your immune system to attack hair follicles leading to hair loss.

Sometimes, large doses of stress can make your body’s immune system turn on itself and attack your hair follicles. Lots of worry and anxiety can also pause your hair growth, which makes hair more likely to fall out when you brush.

You’ve Had Weight Loss Surgery

Zinc deficiency after weight loss surgery may contribute to hair loss.

You’re more likely to deal with this post-surgery symptom if your zinc levels are low, but it’s common to lose some locks after bariatric surgery. Your doctor may recommend a zinc supplement to help halt your hair loss.

You Don’t Get Enough Protein

Lack of sufficient protein can make hair fall out.

A body low on protein finds a way to conserve where it can, and that includes halting hair growth. About 2 to 3 months after that, hair starts to fall out. Adding more meat, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, and beans to your meals can pack more protein into your diet.

You’re on Birth Control

Hormonal birth control may result in hair loss for some women.

Hormonal birth control like oral contraceptives, implants, injections, vaginal rings, and patches can trigger hair loss if you have a history of it in your family. Your doctor might be able to recommend a non-hormonal option that may help you keep more of your locks.

You’ve Gone Off Birth Control

Stopping hormonal birth control can produce hair loss, too.

Not only can starting hormonal birth control kick off hair loss, so can quitting. You’ll probably notice a change several weeks or months after you stop.

You’re Hard on Your Hair

Being too aggressive with shampooing, drying, or styling hair may cause it to fall out.

Sometimes it’s your styling routine that’s to blame when your hair starts to break or fall out. Using too much shampoo, brushing or combing your hair when it’s wet, rubbing hair dry with a towel, or brushing too hard or too often can all strain your strands and make them break.

You Use Heat and Science on It

Heated styling tools can wreak havoc on your hair.

Daily use of blow-dryers, flat irons, and curling irons dries out your locks and makes it easier for them break and fall out. Bleach, dye, relaxers, and hair sprays can do the same thing.

You Have Another Condition

Thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions may contribute to hair loss.

Hair loss is a symptom of more than 30 diseases, including polycystic ovary syndrome, ringworm on your scalp, thyroid disorders, and autoimmune diseases. You can also lose hair when you have the flu, a high fever, or an infection.

You Smoke

Toxins in cigarette smoke may impair hair follicles and lead to hair loss.

Your hair isn’t immune to the damage smoking can cause. Toxins in cigarette smoke can mess with your hair follicles and keep hair from growing and staying on your head.

You’re Going Through Menopause

Hair loss is common with the hormone shifts that occur in menopause.

The shifting hormones of it can ramp up shedding. It should go away after about 6 months. But if you notice your part widening, or hair loss at the top and crown of your head, talk to your doctor. You may have female pattern hair loss, which can be treated.

You Pull It Out

People who suffer from trichotillomania pull out their own hair.

Hair-pulling disorder, or trichotillomania, is a mental health condition that makes you feel like pulling out your hair from your scalp. It can be hard to stop, even when you start to get bald patches. When you have it, you may want to pull out your eyelashes or eyebrows, too.

You Have an Eating Disorder

Nutritional deficiencies from eating disorders may lead to hair loss.

Both anorexia (not eating enough) and bulimia (throwing up after you eat) can make your hair fall out, because your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to grow and maintain healthy hair. These are mental disorders. They need to be treated by a team of mental health professionals, dietitians, and other medical specialists.

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on 10/7/2018

Hair Health: Surprising Reasons Your Hair Is Falling Out

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