Why Your Hair Is Thinning And Falling Out & What To Do Next

It can really be traumatizing experiencing clumps of hairs falling out of one's head every day. Here is what you can do to curb hair thinning.

By Emmanuel Onitayo
Why Your Hair Is Thinning And Falling Out & What To Do Next

An Overview Of Hair Thinning

Everyone loses some amount of hair every day but in most cases, the strands of hairs lost a day are usually insignificant as to make your scalp become visible if everything is okay. However, when your hair keeps falling out especially in a progressive manner, you may have to agree that something is going on. Hair loss has become a source of concern for many people especially men, and there is nothing some cannot give to have their hairs grow back. 

Hair loss is, however, not peculiar to men alone. Both male and female experience it but the effect is more pronounced in males than females. In fact, some males start experiencing hair loss right from the teenage years, and this has led many to become depressed because they simply don't like the look baldness gives them.

One can almost guess that the reason you are reading this piece is that you are experiencing hair loss, thinning, or fall out. Whatever be the case, you can notice that there is a significant decrease in the volume of your hair and you don't seem to be happy about it. Certainly, you would want to know what might be responsible for it, won't you? That we shall touch on in the next section below.

Hair Thinning/Loss: Predisposing Factors

It is necessary to state here that a number of factors can predispose one to hair thinning, and in most cases, the factor or combination of factors responsible for your hair thinning would determine if the condition can be stopped or ameliorated.

Generally speaking, we can group these factors into five categories, which are genetics, age, hormone, lifestyle, and some medical conditions. For anyone experiencing hair thinning, any of these factors could be responsible and as such, we shall take a closer look at each one of them.

Hair Thinning Causes #1: Heredity

One of the major reasons many people experience hair loss is heredity. As it is, if your parents' genes coding for hair follicles are sensitive to androgen (a male hormone also produced by women), you could inherit those genes from them and as such, become a candidate for hair loss.  

This is what is called male-pattened baldness in men while its female equivalent is called androgenetic alopecia. For males, they start experiencing hair thinning on top of their heads (crown) or from their frontal lobe, and as they advance in age, the hair loss takes a semi-circular shape leaving the scalp almost hairless. In fact, where the cause of the hair loss is hereditary, some males can start experiencing hair thinning from their teenage years.

The active androgenic hormone often implicated in this male-patterned baldness or androgenetic alopecia is testosterone. It has been found out that certain hair follicles become powerless (to put it so) in the presence of this hormone, and when its presence in the bloodstream increases as a result of age, those hair follicles begin to give out hairs that are shorter and finer than the rest. With the continuous presence of this testosterone, a time is reached when the hair follicles no longer send hair to the surface.

Most women begin to experience androgenetic alopecia majorly when they reach menopause and there is a difference in the way it is manifested in them when compared with their male counterparts. They don't lose their hairs completely like men do unless there is a more serious condition such as the autoimmune disease called alopecia areata. But for them, if they aren't wearing an artificial hair, you could see the top of their head down to the middle having a lesser volume of hair compared to other parts.

Hair Thinning Causes #2: Age

It may interest you to know that a pronounced hair loss is essentially a part of what it means to be growing old. Although, this does not imply that every aged person must lose their hair but it does happen that with an increase in age, certain body processes become less efficient than it used to be and for many people, the result is usually manifested as hair loss.

Take, for example, many women have noticed that when they reach menopause, the hair from the top of their head to the middle begins to thin or stops growing altogether. Of course, menopause being a product of age does affect the hormone composition of the body and this can result in some women's hair falling out. Men are not exempted from this although they don't undergo menopause.

Hair Thinning Causes #3: Hormonal Imbalance

The chemical substances produced by the endocrine gland and sent to different body parts from where they carry out their expected change are called hormones. Different hormones mediate different responses and changes in the body and depending on sex and age, there is a level below and above which certain hormones are said to be imbalanced.

A disproportionate increase in the level of androgens in the system when compared to other hormones can result in hair falling out. Androgens are the primary hormones in men and that perhaps explains why they seem to be more predisposed to drastic baldness than women.

In women, there is the estrogen which favours a healthy hair growth. Keeping other factors constant, as long as this hormone is consistently kept at the appropriate level, the chances of a woman experiencing hair fall out or thinning become reduced. But where the level of androgens in her system equals or supersede that of the estrogen, that can result in hair thinning.

In women, menstruation and childbirth are two processes that capable of disrupting the hormonal balance. And when the body's estrogen level drops, the effect can split to more serious conditions more than just a reduction in the volume and "quality" of hair.

Hair Thinning Causes #4: Lifestyle

For many people, the reason their hair is falling out is as a result of certain lifestyle practices that are inimical to a healthy hair growth. These practices are often been done without knowing that its effects on the hair can be detrimental. Some of those lifestyle practices include

1. Over-styling
2. Allergic reaction
3. Emotional & Physical stress
4. Deficient diet
5. Weight-loss adventure.

So, let's take a brief look at each of these lifestyle practices and examine each one results in some form or the other of hair loss.

1. Over-Styling

By styling your hair too often, you could be stretching the strands and weakening the roots such that with time, these hairs begin to lose their firm hold on the follicles and start falling off.

Some very tight ponytails and even hair straightening processes that involve the application of heat are paramount among the stylings that can lead to artificial hair loss.

As such, you should style your hair every other day and if possible, stop any hair styling that puts pressure on your scalp. That's because the incessant pull can eventually be among the reasons your hairs are falling out.

2. Allergic Reaction

We often apply a lot of cosmetics to our hair to improve its general outlook but some of these cosmetics are the reasons some people's hair fall out unknowingly. Certain shampoos, hair care products, and chemicals are just not compatible with certain hairs and skin.

And most times, when you make use of those products without first confirming if they are okay with your hair, the end result can be hair loss.

There is no specific list in this order and what Mr. A reacts to may be perfectly suitable for Mr. B. The most important thing is to understudy a particular product and see if it's okay with your hair and scalp first before using it every day.

3. Emotional & Physical Stress

Don't be surprised that the feelings that go inside you and how you manage your daily affairs are connected to your hair growth or otherwise. If you are weighed down by a lot of emotional entanglements, you could begin to shed (as it were) some hairs.

Stress, be it emotional or physical, leads to an increased production of androgens in both males and females. And it doesn't matter whether you are a teenager or an adult; if you give room for too much of stress, your androgen production would increase, and as we have earlier noted, these hormones are implicated in hair loss.

4. Deficient Diet

“If there’s one thing we all think we know about losing weight it’s that crash diets are bad: they’re unhealthy, you can’t keep the weight off and they feel like cheating because dieting is supposed to be slow and sensible (and torturous). However, new research is about to be published by Professor Susan Jebb, one of Britain’s leading weight loss experts, challenging the negative myths around crash diets. This academic study will show that people who were put on a drastic eight-week liquid diet not only lost weight, but were still lighter a year later. Jebb will also be fronting The Big Crash Diet Experiment, a BBC TV programme in which she and a team of doctors follow four obese, middle-aged volunteers on a total meal-replacement diet of shakes and soups, totalling 800 calories a day. Over nine weeks on the crash diet, during which no “real” food was allowed, they all lost more than 10 per cent of their body weight. “A lot of prejudices bandied around about crash diets don’t play out when you look at the research,” argues Jebb, a professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford and a former obesity adviser to the government. She emphasises that by “crash diet” she means a structured, total meal-replacement diet with counselling included — not eating only cabbage soup or grapefruit for a few weeks. The main objection to crash dieting, whatever your weight, is that you simply regain the weight you lost — plus a bit more because your metabolism has slowed down — once you go back to eating normal food. Yet the truth is that people tend to put weight back on whatever diet they use. An Australian study from 2014, which pitted people on a 12-week crash diet against others who cut their daily intake by 500 calories over nine months, found that after three years 71 per cent had regained their original weight, regardless of which diet they chose. However, the crash dieters were more likely to reach their target weight (80 per cent did, compared with 50 per cent of the slow dieters) and were less likely to drop out because their rapid results bolstered motivation, so they had greater overall weight loss. #thetimes #crashdiets #weekendpapers

A post shared by The Latte Lounge (@loungethelatte) on

As you ponder on the possible reasons your hairs are thinning or falling out, you should not leave out what you consume too. What we eat affect every part of our being, the hair inclusive. The hair being proteinous in composition requires adequate intake of proteins too for effective growth.

Teenagers and adults who feed appropriately on protein-containing foods such as milk, egg, and cheese are less likely to experience hair loss than others who don't. Of course, that would be if other factors contributing to hair loss are kept constant.

Similarly, some vitamins are very important if you must stop or avoid hair loss. One of such very important vitamins for hair growth is Vitamin B12. Its primary source is, however, in animal products and vegans who don't take vitamin B12 supplements are prone to experiencing baldness even beginning from their mid-years.

5. Weight Loss Adventures

There are many things people do today in the name of watching their weights that have a detrimental effect on their hair growth. One of such is starving. When you eat less or refuse to eat at all, you are depriving your hair follicles of some nutrients that it needs to grow.

That aside, there are a number of crash diets out there too that are said to help you lose weight; what you are not being told is that some of those diets contribute to alopecia. While they may appear to be helping in controlling your weight, they also may be leaving behind certain side effects of which hair loss may be one.

Hair Thinning Causes #5: Medical Conditions

Apart from the above reasons, your hair loss can as well be a symptom of a medical condition that must be attended to. For instance, if you are suffering from anemia, hair growth can be severely affected. Iron is necessary for blood formation and a constituent of protein needed for hair growth.

Another condition that displays hair loss as its primary symptom is alopecia areata. This is a condition in which the body's immune setup sees the hair as a non-self and as such, fights against it. Clumps of hairs are removed in some cases whereas, in others, the whole hair may be affected.

Added to the list of these conditions is thyroid imbalance. The thyroid gland is situated in the neck region and its purpose is to control body's metabolism. An imbalance such as hyper or hypothyroid can lead to hair loss. This thyroid imbalance is normally caused as a result of the inadequate intake of iodine.

Hair Thinning & Fall Out: What To Do Next

Depending on the cause of your hair loss, two major steps can be taken; the first is to stop the hair loss, while the second is to maintain the remaining hairs on your head so you don't keep losing them. As such, a wise thing to do when contemplating on how to stop or curb hair loss is to ascertain what its cause is.

The various reasons given for hair loss in this piece should help you in determining what the cause of the hair loss might be. If you are a teenager and experiencing hair loss, you might want to suspect that you have inherited a gene as to that effect from your parents. But before concluding, you should check your diet and lifestyle too to be sure they aren't the reason you're going bald young.

The same thing applies to adults too. Be sure of the reasons you are experiencing hair loss first before you decide what step(s) you should take next. If you are unsure of what the cause might be, you may want to speak with a doctor who would help rule out some options based on certain questions he/she would ask you.

However, we would touch on the available treatments or palliatives for hair loss in the section below depending on what the cause is.

How To Stop Hair Thinning

Whether as a teenager or an adult, if your hair loss is hereditary, you can opt for minoxidil which is also known as Rogaine. Another medication you can use is finasteride which is known in some places as propecia. Howbeit, you need to know that while rogaine or minoxidil can be used by both male and female, finasteride is mostly suitable for females. As a matter of fact, you need a doctor's prescription to get finasteride.

Minoxidil can be bought over the counter and the usage is pretty easy. Simply apply it to the spot where you are experiencing hair thining two times a day and apart from its ability to stop hair loss, it can also ensure hair regrowth. However, the moment you stop apply this medication, you are likely to experience a loss in the hair regrowth.

Finasteride works by inhibiting the production of testosterone which is the major hormone adjudged to be responsible for hereditary hair loss in both men and women. The dosage and exact usage would be determined by your doctor. There are more medical ways to address hair loss though but these may involve some surgeries here and there as well as a hair transplant.

How To Prevent Hair Loss

Non-hereditary hair loss can be prevented by maintaining a very healthy lifestyle and watching what you eat. Even if you have the gene, leading a healthy life can reduce its manifestation to an extent. As such, you should heed the following pieces of advice to prevent losing clumps of hair every now and then.

1. Say "No" to stress. This you can ensure by regular exercise and planning your time well. You should not be too engrossed in any activity so much that you cannot get at least 7 hours sleep a day. The inability to sleep well is a good recipe for stress and by extension, hair loss.

2. Opt for natural things like olive oil, tea tree oil, coconut oil and the rest instead of using some shampoos and hair care products that can be allergic to your hair.

3. Desist from hair stylings that you are not comfortable with. It doesn't matter how trendy the style is or how beautiful it is acclaimed to make you look; if it is not good for you, let go of it.

4. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, take vitamin B12 supplements to ensure that the deficiency is taken care of.

5. Ensure that your diet is balanced always. Crash diets will do you little good in the long run. The best is to stay and subsist on a healthy diet. As it is, low carb and protein should not be wanting in what you take daily.

6. Too much of sebum clumps and clogs the hair follicles. As such, you should consider exfoliating at least twice a week.

Final Thoughts

Don't just be discouraged about the clumps of hairs that stick with your comb every time; you can do something about especially if you are worried that your hairs are falling out. Among other things, that is the import of this piece. You have known some of the leading causes of hair loss and what you can do to address them.

If all remedies fail to work, you can shave off your hair completely as a man while for a woman, there are wigs, scarves, and other cosmetic approaches to cover up for the deficit. Hair loss isn't a condition in most cases and should not be a reason you would commit suicide or become depressed.