Has the simple morning ritual of brushing your hair turned into an anxiety-inducing act? For some women, this is an everyday reality. While it’s totally normal to see a few strands of hair on your hairbrush, you might be dealing with a more significant issue if your hair is falling out faster than you can say, “Help!”
There are forms of hair loss which commonly occur for women and may be addressed through a few lifestyle modifications. Before you start to panic and worry that your current hair loss issues are permanent, take a look at what could be the underlying cause of your hair falling out and what you can do about it.
1. Medical conditions
There are serious medical conditions that can cause hair loss which may require you to seek professional help from a health practitioner due to an underlying medical condition. For example, ‘Alopecia’ is experienced by one-third of women at some time in their lives and can be a symptom of various medical, autoimmune or thyroid conditions.
When your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain crucial hormones, you may start to experience hair loss. Consult with a doctor about a treatment for thyroid disorders. Be patient with your regrowth.
An eating disorder is a serious mental health condition that includes bulimia and anorexia. Low self-esteem can trigger an eating disorder. What you eat can affect how your hair grows and looks. That’s why it’s crucial to eat a balanced diet filled with proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals to promote strong, healthy hair.
If you are undergoing any form of radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer, a common side effect of this is hair loss. During this time, many patients opt to wear headscarves or wigs to cover their scalp. This is nothing to be ashamed of and something your Doctor and medical team will brief you on prior to treatment.
2. Pregnancy, post-partum and menopause
It’s normal for hair loss to occur when your body is experiencing significant hormonal shifts that occur throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. When you’re pregnant, your body changes in so many ways. Hormones make hair feel stronger, longer, and voluminous. After childbirth, those hormones shift once again, and you might start feeling like you’re losing more hair than normal.
If losing hair starts to bother you to the point where you want to scream, stick to a shampoo that adds volume to your hair. Use a leave-in conditioner on the ends of your hair and use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle wet locks. Patience is key, and know that in time, your hair will start to grow back if you maintain a healthy diet and take care of yourself. The worse thing you can do is add stress to your body by stressing out about hair loss!
3. Pharmaceutical medications
Are you taking any over-the-counter or prescribed pharmaceutical drugs? Many prescriptions and some over-the-counter medications can cause hair loss as a side effect. If you’ve been prescribed medication to treat a specific condition and you’re experiencing hair loss as a result, talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your hair loss. Your hair will likely grow back after you stop taking the medication, but it could take several months. Focus on staying as healthy as possible by eating well, exercising, and reducing stress.
High levels of stress can take a toll on your hair, causing it to fall out. Stress depletes your body of many vital vitamins and minerals like B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. The good news is, if you get your stress under control, your hair may grow back.
Stress can come in many forms including emotional and physical stress, and have a cascade of effects on your health such as loss of sleep, loss of appetite, overeating, depression, anxiety and disruption to your personal life. Take a break from anything that could be triggering high stress. Focus on meditation, participate in light exercise like walking, get outside more and away from digital devices, and take more time to nourish your mind, body and soul. Finding new ways to calm yourself in calculated times will help build your nervous system’s resilience during even in the most stressful environments.
5. Nutrient deficiencies
Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency and is a well-known cause of hair loss. There are vitamins you can take to boost your iron intake but it’s recommended you seek advice from a health professional to help get your dosage right and to make sure it doesn’t interfere with any other medications you may be taking.
Other important nutrients to support your hair include Zinc, which is an essential mineral for protein synthesis and cell division, which helps hair growth. Healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, found in seafood, chia seeds, some nuts and seeds like flax seeds, and grass fed meats, help promote healthy hair.
Focus on getting as many of your nutrients from wholefoods and supplement as needed with the guidance of your Doctor.
6. Damaged hair from coloring, bleaching, or heat styling
Many women love to blow-dry and straighten their hair everyday and it’s no wonder. Great hair and make for a great day! However, frequently doing so without proper protection and giving your hair a break now and then can cause long term damage. Excessive heat and dyes can cause damage to your hair by stripping it of its natural oils and over-heating to the point of breakage. Take a break from the hot irons and curling irons if you feel like your hair is falling out. When you do need to heat-dry or heat-style your hair, always use a hair protection spray or serum first, to prevent burning, drying out and damaging your hair.
If you regularly color and bleach your hair, make sure to add a hair mask treatment to your self-care routine. Nourish those locks, so they can continue to look bright and shiny, even after you’ve left the hair salon.
7. Aggressive hair styling
The sleek ponytail (like the Ariana Grande style) or the perfect, tight ballet bun, looks sophisticated and chic, but did you know that excessive styling in such ways can contribute to a receding hair line? This form of hair style, and any that requires super tight pulling, puts pressure on the roots of your hair and can cause unnecessary hair loss. Tight elastics used for ponytails can pull and strain your hair and some can even tangle the hair causing a lump of hair to come out with the hair elastic. If you love wearing your hair in a messy bun or high ponytail, consider using a scrunchie to prevent damage and a receding hairline.
8. Installing hair extensions incorrectly
Hair extensions can lengthen your hair and add volume for easy styling. But if they’re not applied correctly, they can pull on your hair, and you may start to notice strands falling out. Talk to a professional and ask for a referral from someone you trust. If you don’t want to commit to long-term hair extensions, consider clip-in extensions or halo hair extensions that are easy to put on and take off without damaging your hair.
If you start to experience hair loss, talk to your doctor to develop an action plan to help regrow your hair. Be gentle with your hair when you’re detangling it and use a wide-tooth comb instead of a brush to get knots out. Other simple lifestyle adjustments include towel drying your hair before blow-drying and pampering your hair with a deep conditioning treatment at least once a month.