7 Shocking Hair Loss Causes (+ 3 Natural Remedies You Need to Know About Now!)

August 17, 2020

Whether you’ve noticed some new breakage or find that it’s starting to come out in clumps or even by the handful, hair loss causes significant toll and worry.

After all, it’s not only a blow to your confidence and self-esteem, but it’s also an indication that something may be wrong with your health. But how do you know what’s causing it? And what can you do to remedy the situation?

Keep reading to learn all about hair loss—how common it is, the different types you may encounter, and the surprising hair loss causes and remedies you haven’t heard about!


All About Hair Loss: What You Need to Know Now!

Believe it or not, everyone sheds hair every single day. In fact, the average person loses anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs each day. [1] Sometimes it’s more noticeable than others. But, more often than not, this shedding is totally normal.

Now, when you begin to lose significantly more hairs than in this range, you may have what’s known as telogen effluvium, or excessive hair shedding. This type of hair loss is the kind that will typically cause you concern—and rightfully so. After all, no one wants to lose so much hair that they fear becoming bald.

It often initially presents as thinning hair. And here’s why: You may be surprised to learn that your hair isn’t constantly growing. Instead, your hair follicles go through growth cycles that can last a few years before entering a “resting phase” for a few months. Hair follicles in this phase not only cease growing but also fall out more easily.

At any given time, your scalp is comprised of about 10 to 20 percent of hair follicles in this resting phase, meaning that hair isn’t in the growth process. If, at any point, the number of follicles producing hair on your head (which is usually about 80 to 90 percent) falls, this results in telogen effluvium. [2]

The great news here is that telogen effluvium often results from lifestyle factors, which I’ll discuss more below. And that means that this type of hair loss is reversable or treatable.

But there’s another type of hair loss as well, known as anagen effluvium. The difference? Well, with anagen effluvium, your hair doesn’t regrow. And while some lifestyle factors, such as certain harsh hair products or medications, can be to blame, anagen effluvium can also occur due to hereditary factors or autoimmune issues.

Additionally, one of the types of hair loss is known as alopecia areata, which is actually a disease in which your body attacks your hair follicles, preventing your hair from growing back. This type of hair loss often causes bald patches and can occur anywhere on your body.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, alopecia areata is unpredictable, meaning your hair may be able to regrow on its own—only to potentially fall out again.

Overall, it’s estimated to affect about 6.8 million Americans (or 2.1 percent of the population). This disease is known to have a genetic link and can also strike at any age, though it’s most common during childhood and/or teenage years. [3]

Fortunately, the scientific community is working on treatment options for alopecia areata, and these options range from injections to medications to immunotherapy. [4, 5, 6]

Finally, there’s also age-related hair loss, known as pattern hair loss. You may be surprised to learn that approximately 50 percent of all men will experience pattern hair loss by age 50, and more than 70 percent will experience it by age 80. [7]

Meanwhile, only up to 13 percent of women will experience pattern hair loss by age 40, but up to 54 percent will experience it by the time they’re 70 years old. [8]

So, there you have it. Now that you know more about the major types of hair loss, let’s take a closer look at some of the surprising hair loss causes—many of which are lifestyle dictated!

7 Surprising Hair Loss Causes

Here are a few of the top surprising hair loss causes that you may not have heard about before now.

1. You're stressed out!

Think about the last time you experienced severe stress. It can be physiological stress, such as the stress your body experiences after giving birth, or psychological or emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one. Did you notice a change in your hair?

When I lost my mom, I began losing hair right above my forehand. And I immediately recognized the cause. The truth of the matter is that when it comes to hair loss causes, stress tops the list. But do you know why?

During times of stress, your body pushes more and more of your hair follicles into the resting phase I mentioned above. And this causes more hair loss.

In fact, studies have shown that cortisol (the stress hormone) impacts both the function and regulation of your hair follicles. [9] Additionally, in vivo animal studies revealed that stress alters hair follicle cycling by prematurely ending the typical duration of active hair growth. [10]

Another study also confirmed that hair follicles respond directly to corticotropin releasing hormone, a hormone released during times of stress that stimulates the release of cortisol. [11]

2. You have nutritional deficiencies.

Believe it or not, one of the most common hair loss causes revolves around your nutrition.

Studies have shown that micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) “are major elements in the normal hair follicle cycle.” This is because they play a huge role in the cellular turnover within your hair follicle bulb, which is directly responsible for healthy hair growth. [12]

One great example of this is vitamin D, which has long been known to improve symptoms of both androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that patients with hair loss have significantly lower levels of vitamin D than those without the condition. [13]

Additionally, a 2013 study revealed that, on average, vitamin D2 levels in women with telogen effluvium were significantly less than the levels of women who didn’t have excessive hair shedding. The vitamin D2 levels in with telogen effluvium averaged to 28.8 nmol/l while the levels of those without the condition were a staggering 118.2 nmol/l! [14]

Interestingly, a 2014 study revealed that vitamin D promoted hair regrowth in mice in as little as two weeks, confirming the important link between vitamin D sufficiency and hair growth. [15]

3. You have an underlying illness or condition.

When it comes to hair loss causes, certain medical conditions can be to blame, such as diabetes and thyroid disease. But how do these conditions cause hair loss?

First, when you have diabetes, high blood sugar is known to cause damage all over your body—including your blood vessels, which are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. By impacting the ability of oxygen to reach your hair follicles, high blood sugar levels can impact the growing phase of your hair follicles.

Interestingly, scientists are beginning to link hair follicle health to risk of diabetes. Some have go so far as to say that examining hair follicle health may even serve as an early risk marker of the condition. [16]

Another health condition known to be one of the more common hair loss causes is thyroid disease. And that’s because your thyroid hormones have a direct impact on your hair follicles.

A groundbreaking study proved this fact by obtaining and studying hair follicles from female face lift patients. Amazingly, they found that the thyroid hormone T4 prolongs the duration of the hair growth phase and even stimulates the protective structure of your hair.

The researchers also found that both T3 and T4 hormones impact the pigment (color) of your hair! [17]

Given this direct connection, if your thyroid hormones aren’t in balance for any reason, this imbalance be a major cause of hair loss. And, remember, stress (the most common cause of hair loss) also impacts the way your body utilizes your thyroid hormones. It’s almost like a double hit!

4. Your medication is causing it.

If you’re becoming concerned about your hair and wondering about potential hair loss causes, you may want to consider any medication you’re currently taking.

Believe it or not, many medications are connected to hair loss because they cause direct damage to your hair follicles.

These medications range from anti-depressants to beta-blockers to birth control pills to steroids! For a full list of medications that are known to cause hair loss, check out this article from the American Hair Loss Association.

If you suspect that you may have hair loss due to a current medication, consider speaking with your physician about what to do or other alternatives for your situation.

5. You have a genetic predisposition.

Unfortunately, some hair loss causes are less within your control—and this is one of them.

Perhaps not surprisingly, studies have shown that heredity accounts for about 80 percent of hair loss predisposition. [18] Men commonly begin to notice genetically rooted hair loss as early as their 20s or 30s, while women typically don’t experience it until after menopause. [19]

The good news is that while you can’t do anything about your genetic makeup, there are scientific advances if you suspect your hair loss is resulting from a family trait. Newer medications have been shown to be effective in counteracting hereditary hair loss and pattern baldness.

If you suspect that you may have hereditary hair loss, speak with your physician about possible solutions and treatments that may best fit your needs.

6. You have low estrogen levels.

Given the findings above regarding the link between thyroid hormones and hair, it’s probably not too surprising at this point to learn that another one of the major hair loss causes is low estrogen levels.

Studies have shown that estrogen may help to stimulate hair growth. In fact, it’s common knowledge that women often experience rapid hair growth during pregnancy, followed by rapid hair loss or thinning during the postpartum period.

This is largely due to the rise in estrogen causing an increase in the amount of hair follicles in the growing phase, which then enter the resting phase after birth. [20]

Another time in a woman’s life where she may encounter lower estrogen levels is during menopause. And this is why many women experience some amount of hair loss during this time.

Now, it’s also worth mentioning that excessive dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels can be to blame as well. In fact, many of the hair loss products that you see on the shelves for men target this very issue.

Here’s why: DHT is a male hormone that’s known to not only shrink your hair follicles but also cause them to have a shorter lifespan. This results in greater hair loss as well as thinner, more brittle strands.

If you struggle (or suspect that you may struggle) with any kind of hormonal imbalance, the fact is that this may be the cause of your hair loss.

7. You take birth control pills.

Finally, as I mentioned above, one of the surprising hair loss causes is taking birth control pills.

Basically, certain types of birth control pills are known to move transition your hair follicles from the growing phase to the resting phase. And this effect appears to be more prominent when you’re first starting the pill.

Studies have shown that a large number of patients experienced a temporary increase in the proportion of hair follicles in the rest phase during their first few months on oral contraceptives. [21]

It’s important to note, though, that hair loss isn’t an automatic side effect of taking oral contraceptives. The hair loss effect in women taking birth control pills seems to be more prevalent in those with a family history of hair loss. [22]


Hair loss causes - Dr. Pingel


3 Natural Hair Loss Remedies

OK, it’s time for some positive news now! If you’re worried about any of the hair loss causes I mentioned above, there are some great natural remedies for hair loss that you can try at home. Here are a few that may interest you.

1. Support your body’s stress management.

If you take a look at the hair loss causes above, you’ll likely notice that many of them are linked back to the very first cause listed: stress! So, one of the very best things you can do is support your body’s stress response.

From what I’ve seen with myself and my own patients, once you start to address the stress in your body, your hair will actually start to regrow!

2. Try a coconut oil hair mask.

If you’re experiencing breakage that’s causing your hair to thin, you may be experiencing some dehydration (another common side effect of poor stress management).

So, in addition to making sure you’re staying adequately hydrated, you should consider adding some hydration directly to your hair in the form of a coconut oil hair mask. Interestingly, coconut oil isn’t only hydrating, but it’s also believed to help prevent further damage due to protein loss. [23]

Simply take a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil and apply it root to tip over wet hair. Leave it on for one to two hours and then shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would. Try it as needed to help prevent further breakage.

3. Use a plant-based growth-promoting hair product.

Unfamiliar with this natural remedy? So was I—until my stylist told me about it. Basically, there are all-natural hair products featuring plant stem cells that revive hair follicles and slows down shedding.

The downside? It’s pricey, but likely less expensive—and less harmful!—than certain medications. Click here for more information.


Key Takeaways

  • The average person loses anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs each day. But when you shed more than that amount or you're not seeing regrowth, hair loss causes some anxiety and stress.
  • Some of the surprising hair loss causes include: stress, nutritional deficiencies, an underlying illness, medication, a genetic predisposition, low estrogen levels, or taking birth control pills.
  • Three of the top hair loss remedies include: supporting your body's stress management, using a coconut oil hair mask, and trying plant-based hair products designed to revive hair follicles.
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