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What Causes Hair Loss?

  • Friday 19 August 2022
  • 5 minute(s) read

A hairstyle is one of the first things someone notices about you. If your hair is thinning or you have bald spots, you may feel embarrassed before anyone lays eyes on you. Hair loss can cause social embarrassment and anxiety, especially for women and young people. But what is causing you to lose your hair? That is not easy to answer.

Hair loss causes vary significantly from person to person, and your doctor will determine the true reason behind your hair loss. Read on to learn about the symptoms and common causes of hair loss.

Symptoms of Hair Loss

No one loses hair in the same way. The pattern of your hair loss can also indicate the cause of hair loss. The loss can come on suddenly or occur gradually over time. The most common signs of hair loss include:

  • Patchy bald spots
  • Full-body hair loss
  • Gradual thinning of the hair
  • Sudden loosening of the hair
  • Scaly, hairless patches on the scalp 1

a man holding a tuft of hair

Some people, typically aging men, do not question hair loss as they age, but others may be startled by the sudden loss of their luscious locks. You should seek out the help of your doctor if your hair loss occurs suddenly and causes distress in your everyday life. It is essential to seek help early to prevent further hair loss and permanent baldness.

In one study published in the National Library of Medicine, researchers studied the rate of male pattern hair loss in a sample of healthy men aged 18-49. The study found that 42 percent of those studied had moderate to extensive hair loss. Researchers also found that hair loss increased rapidly with age, affecting 53 percent of the men between 40 and 49. 2

Family History

There are many odd myths about hair loss. For example, one popular myth is that hair loss is passed down from the mother’s side while female hair loss is passed down from the father’s side. There is little scientific evidence to back this idea because hair loss genes come from your mother and father.

Researchers studied the family history of hair loss in parents and grandparents in one study. All of this information was self-reported. At the end of the study, researchers found that men whose fathers had hair loss were 2.5 times more likely to have hair loss than those with fathers with no hair loss. 3

This study shows that heredity is a major contributing factor to hair loss, but it is dependent on family history and age. Contrary to the popular myth mentioned above, hair loss in a man’s father appears to play a role in a man’s hair loss.


There are several medications on the market that can cause hair loss. In most cases, hair loss is temporary, and it will grow back normally once you cease taking the medication. But some medications may permanently damage the hair follicle, and hair cannot grow back.

Some medications may cause hair loss, including vitamin A and acne medications like isotretinoin and tretinoin. Acne medications have the same effect on hair follicles, causing premature hair follicle regression. Using too much vitamin A in makeup or skincare products can send your hair follicles into overdrive, so your hair will reach the end of the growth phase too quickly.

a man getting medical treatment

If you are prescribed an antibiotic, you may experience temporary hair thinning. Antibiotics may deplete your vitamin B levels, disrupting hair growth. Common blood thinners like heparin and warfarin may cause hair loss once you have taken them for over three months. 4

More intensive medications like chemotherapy are known for causing hair loss. If you undergo chemotherapy for cancer treatment, you may experience loss of hair on your head, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Chemo destroys fast-growing cancer cells, but it can also destroy hair follicles when they attack the cells. Hair will grow back once your chemo treatment is complete.

Hormones & Hair Loss

Hormone changes are responsible for most hair loss in older men and women. In women, hair loss may occur when estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Hair grows slower and thins out during this time. When estrogen dips low, the body compensates by producing androgens, male hormones. Androgens may shrink hair follicles, increasing hair loss.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the enzyme responsible for hair loss in men. DHT is found in the hair follicles, prostate, and skin. DHT is much more potent than testosterone. The amount of DHT in your system does not cause hair loss, but if your hair follicles are sensitive to DHT, you are more likely to experience hair loss. 5 Hair loss sensitivity is determined by your genes.

a couple embracing

Stress & Lifestyle

Stress can wreak havoc on the body in many ways. Hair loss is one of the most common signs of stress. When the body experiences high stress over a prolonged period, stress can push large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. These hairs may then fall out during showers or when you comb your hair. Hair loss caused by stress is typically not permanent, and the hair should grow back once the stress is dealt with.

There are several things you can do to prevent hair loss when stressed. Adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being. If your body manifests stress in physical ways, talk to your doctor for treatment options. To learn more about hair loss and treatment options, read our hair loss articles today.

Once your doctor determines the cause of your hair loss, you may receive a prescription for aldactone or finasteride. Along with medications, you may have to adopt new lifestyle habits to benefit your overall hair health.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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