Hair loss is a stressful event for many. It can be unnerving to see your once lustrous locks scattered on the bathroom floor. But before you panic, stop and take a breather first! Like any other condition, it’s important to determine the root cause.
Read below to learn more about the 7 shocking reasons why you could be losing your hair:
Stress is a normal part of daily life. In the short term, it can help you respond to demands or challenges. For example, stress can help you work hard and meet the deadline for your term paper.
While beneficial, too much stress can take a toll on your body – your hair included. For one, it could lead to telogen effluvium, where your hairs prematurely enter their resting phase. The symptoms of hair loss usually happen a few months after the ‘stressful’ event.
Stress may also lead you to develop trichotillomania, or the irresistible urge to pull out your hair. In some people, severe stress can prod the immune system to attack the hair follicles in a condition called alopecia areata.
Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from injuries and infections. While this is the system’s attempt to heal the affected area, inflammation can make a turn for the worse – especially for the hair.
For one, inflammatory conditions of the skin, particularly of the scalp, can trigger hair loss. The most common examples include eczema and psoriasis.
Another condition, called frontal fibrosing alopecia, is more alarming. It leads to scarring and hair loss (oftentimes permanent) at the front part of the scalp.
There’s also folliculitis delvans, an inflammatory condition that leads to the destruction of hair follicles. Apart from irreversible hair loss, this also leads to itchy, pus-filled lesions on the scalp.
Lastly, there’s discoid lupus erythematosus, a type of autoimmune disease. It leads to scalp sores – which, when scar tissue develops, will no longer grow hair.
The thyroid gland is an endocrine organ located in your neck. It is responsible for producing thyroxine and triiodothyronine, hormones vital for normal cell function. Suffice to say, under or over-production of these substances have negative implications for your hair.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism both lead to diffuse hair loss around the entire scalp. The strands become uniformly sparse, however, regrowth is possible. Once the thyroid condition has been addressed, your hair will come back – albeit incompletely.
Use of Harmful Hair Products
Not all hair products are good for your mane. In fact, some can end up triggering hair loss. So the next time you buy your hair care products, be on the lookout for these bad ingredients:
Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate
Sulfates help make your shampoo lather. Unfortunately, these bubbles do more harm than good. They strip the hairs of their protective oils and damage the proteins that maintain their integrity. These lead to dry hair that is more prone to breakage.
Parabens are preservatives that keep hair products free from bacterial growth. Unfortunately, this could irritate your scalp, making your hair dry and brittle.
Also known as salt, this ingredient can make your scalp itchy. It can also dry out your hair, making it more prone to hair fall.
Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
Apart from causing scalp irritation, these ingredients can break down the vital keratin proteins in the hair. As a result, DEA and TEA can make your hair more susceptible to breakage.
Straightening or curling your hair may make you look good, but it can be harmful to your hair in the long run. When you use heating irons, you expose your strands to temperatures up to 410 degrees. Unfortunately, this is more than enough to cause permanent hair damage. The heat ends up breaking down your hair’s hydrogen bonds, damaging its internal structure for good.
If you think that doing other hairstyles are better, that’s where you’re wrong. A tight ponytail, bun, or braid can lead traction alopecia, a condition brought about by repeated pulling. Fortunately though, this type of hair loss is reversible. You can expect your hair to grow back once you stop doing those tight hairstyles.
The hair needs certain nutrients to grow well. Without them, your strands may fall faster than usual. Take a good hard look at your dietary habits to see if you need hair supplements that includes the any and all of the following ingredients:
This nutrient is necessary for the growth of various cells, the hair included. Both deficiency and overdose can lead to hair loss.
Biotin is a necessary nutrient for the hair, the lack of which leads to hair loss. As for other B vitamins, they help deliver the oxygen and nutrients essential for hair growth.
Ascorbic acid is needed by the body to synthesize collagen, an important hair protein. It also promotes the absorption of iron, another mineral necessary for cell growth. As an antioxidant, it may protect the hair from the damaging effects of free radicals.
A deficiency in this vitamin has been associated with hair loss. It is believed that it contributes to hair production, although its actual role remains unknown.
Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radical damage to the hair.
Hair is made up of proteins. Insufficient consumption of such can slow hair growth, which could, later on, lead to hair loss.
Since Zinc promotes cell growth and repair, low levels of this may lead to gradual hair loss.
Probiotics and Gut Imbalance
Your gut may be far from your scalp, but you’ll be surprised to know that it affects your hair health as well.
Your digestive tract is populated by bacteria, both good and bad. The good microbes are called probiotics, which bring about a bevy of health benefits for the body. They can be sourced from fermented food, such as yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kimchi, to name a few.
When a gut imbalance occurs – say, by an unhealthy diet or taking antibiotics – the population of the good bacteria gets decimated. This is bad for the hair since these microorganisms produce enzymes that promote nutrient absorption. In most cases, these probiotics produce vital nutrients as well. For one, they help synthesize biotin, a vitamin necessary for hair thickness and shine.
With that being said, it’s best to keep your gut microbiome balanced by eating probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods/supplements. Not only do they benefit your hair, but they may improve your cognitive, digestive, and skin health as well.
*Photos by Nataliya Vaitkevich