Causes of Hair Loss

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated September 5, 2008)

There are many causes for hair loss, with the most common being disease, medication, inherited factors, stress, aging, injury, and poor hair care:

  • Hair loss can occur if you develop Lupus, syphilis, or cancer. Autoimmune disease causes hair loss when the immune system assaults hair follicles. In severe cases, bald patches or complete hair loss occurs, although some people experience thinning hair only. Hair usually grows back after going through a round of treatment for the disease.
  • Medications and medication side effects can cause hair loss. Procedures such as radiation chemotherapy and medicines such as blood thinners cause temporary loss of hair, and hair will regrow when treatment ends.
  • Genetics play a significant role in hair loss in that you inherit the hair loss tendency from your parents. Also, genes affect your hair follicle production. Androgens are a class of hormones that cause hair follicle shrinkage, and the genes you inherited may trigger sensitivity to those hormones. When hair follicles shrink, they produce thinner hair and, eventually, no hair at all. In men as well as women, this phenomenon is called common baldness.
  • Periods of physical and mental stress can cause temporary hair loss. Physical stressors that can cause hair loss are events such as surgery or rapid weight loss. Mental stressors such as dealing with family death, divorce, or change in jobs may cause temporary hair loss.
  • When we age, our hair follicles slow hair growth due to hormonal changes, and hair often becomes brittle and breaks more easily.
  • Head injuries can damage hair follicles, retarding hair growth. Scarring, burns, parasites, ringworm of the scalp, and compulsive hair pulling can all cause hair loss.
  • The way you care for your hair can affect your hair growth and retention. If you pull your hair into a tight ponytail often, or wear tight braids, you may have hair loss around the hair line surrounding the face and forehead. Using harsh chemicals, hot hair appliances, and cheap hair care products can also cause hair damage and loss.

Since some hair loss can be an early indicator of an underlying disease, it is wise to speak with your doctor about noticeable hair loss. Thyroid disease, Lupus, poor nutrition, diabetes, and iron deficiency can all cause hair loss.

The two major factors of hair health are genetics and overall health. Hair follicles are the housing and incubator of hair. The follicle and hair root are fed by a vein, and blood carries nutrients through that vein to the hair follicle. Any time you practice poor nutrition habits, sustain injuries, or take medications or treatments that inhibit proper nutrition, you have a risk of hair loss.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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