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Why Is My Hair Falling Out? 27 Reasons You’re Losing Hair
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on April 5, 2024

Shedding hair is normal and part of the healthy hair growth cycle. Most people will lose between 50 and 100 hairs every day [1]. However, if you notice even more hair than usual is falling out, you may start to worry that you’re going bald.

Anyone will naturally feel concerned if they think their hair is falling out. Don’t get too worried though, as you should have more than enough hair on your head to make up for any hair loss.

Unfortunately, if you find that your hair seems to be falling out more quickly or if you experience any kind of excessive hair shedding, you might need to find out the cause of hair loss.

In this article, we’re going to be explaining some of the most common reasons why your hair is falling out – and, most importantly, what you can do to prevent or treat hair loss.

Table of Contents

Although hair loss may ultimately come down to genetics in many people, there are a range of other reasons why you may be experiencing temporary, or permanent hair loss [2]. Here are some of the most common reasons:

1. Hereditary hair loss (androgenetic alopecia)

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. Individuals who were assigned male at birth may experience androgenetic alopecia in the form of male pattern hair loss whereas individuals assigned as female will experience this type of genetic hair loss condition through female pattern baldness. Androgenetic alopecia is a progressive condition that’s caused by a combination of enzymes, hormones and genetics.

In severe cases, androgenetic alopecia in men may progress to retrograde alopecia. This is characterised by hair loss around the nape and ears, as well as the temples and crown.

2. Medication that causes hair loss

Every time you start taking a new medication, you should always make sure to read the side effects, specifically if they are linked to temporary hair loss. 

These will always be included on the box of medication and may sometimes include hair loss [3]. This is especially true with acne medications high in Vitamin A, blood thinners, depression medication and medication for high blood pressure. Learn more about vitamin A and hair loss, and medications that cause hair loss.

3. Iron deficiency

When you don’t have enough iron, it becomes hard for your body to produce haemoglobin [4]. Haemoglobin carries oxygen around the body and to your hair follicles, giving them what they need to grow and stay healthy.

An iron deficiency can make your hair thin or brittle, and even cause hair loss in some cases. This may present in a similar way to male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss [5]. 

Iron deficiency can also cause symptoms such as yellow or pale skin, shortness of breath, brittle nails, weakness and a fast heartbeat. Learn more about improving hair texture damaged by iron deficiency.

4. Stress and anxiety

We’ve all been through stressful situations in our lives but, if you are constantly feeling stressed or anxious it could start to be the cause of the hair loss you’re experiencing. Stress- or anxiety-related hair loss is known as telogen effluvium.

To add insult to injury, the stress of experiencing this type of hair loss can often make your hair fall out at a quicker rate, making the whole thing turn into a vicious cycle [6].

Normally this hair loss is temporary. Hair can be regained after stress through a range of stress-relieving strategies to reduce hair loss.

5. Oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives such as birth control pills, implants, and injections will often interact with your hormones. As a result, birth control can cause hair loss especially if you already have a history of baldness in your family.

If hair loss or thinning hair is something that you are concerned about, there are non-hormonal contraceptive alternatives you can use instead.

6. You’ve recently stopped using a contraceptive

Similarly, if you’ve recently stopped using a contraceptive, it can result in changes in your hormones which could trigger hair loss.

You’ll probably start to notice changes in your hair a few weeks or months after coming off the contraceptive, but it should only last as long as it takes for your hormones to become naturally balanced again.

7. You just had a baby

During pregnancy, your hormones can change dramatically. After your baby has been born, several of your hormone levels, such as oestrogen and progesterone, can drop extremely quickly.

These hormones can have a really big impact on your hair, which is why a lot of women experience post-partum hair loss [7].

This type of temporary hair loss is something that’s totally normal and will clear up in a few months. However, it can sometimes take as long as a year for your hair to go back to normal. Learn more about hair loss and pregnancy.

8. You’ve lost weight quickly

Hair loss is a common side effect of rapid weight loss. Crash diets like intermittent fasting have been linked with hair loss, and it’s common to lose hair after weight loss surgery. This is often because your zinc levels are low post-surgery [8].

Sometimes this can be fixed by taking a zinc supplement. For other people, it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough calories to prevent shock hair loss when losing weight. Learn more about how to prevent hair loss during weight loss.

9. You aren’t getting enough protein (and you’re eating too much sugar)

Protein should be an important part of everyone’s diet and, without it, you’ll not only notice physical changes in your body, but you may also see your hair starting to fall out [9].

If your body is low on protein, you may start to see hair loss in as little as 2 to 3 months, so it’s always worth keeping track of the amount of meat, eggs, fish, nuts, and beans that you consume in your diet.

Some people also choose to take protein supplements. However, there is conflicting research on the effect that these have on your hair. Learn more about the link between whey protein and hair loss.

Eating too much sugar can also have an effect on hair loss, thanks to its link with type 2 diabetes and the overproduction of sebum. Learn more about the link between sugar, low-carb diets and hair loss.

10. You’re not gentle enough on your hair

Your hair is fragile and should be looked after at all times. To prevent hair breakage, you should take it easy on the styling treatments and products you’re using.

Certain beauty treatments can cause damage. Hair dyes and other chemical treatments such as perms or relaxers can cause chemical damage which can lead to hair loss.

Make sure to choose gentle shampoo and conditioners, avoid rubbing your hair too much when towel drying, and don’t brush your hair too hard when you’re styling it. Find out more about how to treat and repair hair damage at home.

11. You use too much heat or damaging products

Similarly, heat styling is linked with hair loss. Using too much heat on your hair can be extremely damaging.

All of these products and tools can damage your hair and cause hair to fall out even after a hair transplant. So try to minimise their use as much as you possibly can.

12. You’re going through menopause

 Menopause can be a big trigger for hair loss, but it will normally only be temporary [10,11]. For many women, hair loss occurs due to hormonal changes experienced during this change.

Most women will notice any hair loss stopping after 6 months, but if you notice a bald spot on your crown or a widening part, you might want to go to your GP to check that it’s not female pattern hair loss.

In some cases, hormone replacement therapy can reduce hair loss related to menopause.

13. You have a health condition that causes hair loss

There are many different health conditions that can result in hair loss. These include IBD, Lupus, diabetes, liver disease, thyroid disorders which can cause hair loss and other hair loss-related autoimmune disorders [12].

If you’re experiencing hair loss, it could be a signal of one of these conditions, so it’s always best to consult your GP whenever you notice a change in your hair.

Most of these conditions cause non-genetic hair loss, which means that hair loss can often be treated quickly and effectively by managing the condition first.

14. Smoking

Smoking is responsible for the deaths of around 78,000 people in the UK every year [13]. In addition, smoking can also trigger hair loss.

Smoking causes oxidative stress and reduced blood flow which can make your hair extremely sensitive and prone to falling out [14]. Smoking can also make your hair go grey quicker, and feel more brittle [15-16]. Find out if vaping can cause hair loss.

15. You have a hair-pulling disorder

Disorders like trichotillomania are mental health conditions that can give you the urge to pull your hair out, which can lead to bald patches and issues in your hair’s ability to regrow.

It’s thought to affect 3.6% of the population and can be an extremely difficult habit to stop, but there are a range of strategies and treatments you can follow [17].

16. You have an eating disorder

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can have big physical impacts on your body which can make your hair fall out, mainly because your body is not getting the nutrients and vitamins it needs to remain functioning properly.

Without the right nutrients, you’ll also find it difficult to grow and maintain healthy hair. So it’s important to fill your body up with all the right food, including popular hair growth foods like oily fish, cereal, lentils, protein, etc. Learn more about the benefits of omega 3 for your hair.

17. Telogen effluvium hair loss

Telogen effluvium is a type of short-term hair loss that most commonly occurs after someone has experienced stress, shock or trauma.

Telogen effluvium hair loss is characterised by hair thinning, bald spots that don’t follow the pattern of male or female hair loss, and hair falling out in clumps.

18. Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata affects around 1 in every 170 adults in the UK [18]. It is characterised by patchy hair loss affecting scalp hair, beard hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits and chest hair.

Most experts believe that it’s an autoimmune condition and, in half of all cases, symptoms will normally clear up within a year. However, in some cases, alopecia areata can spread across the scalp or to the rest of the body. Ophiasis alopecia is a rare type of alopecia areata characterised by a band of baldness across the back of the scalp.

19. Traction alopecia

If you are constantly wearing your hair in a very tight hairstyle, you could be causing a lot of tension on the hair root which can result in irreparable damage. That’s why wearing your hair in tight ponytails can cause hair loss.

This can often turn into traction alopecia, where the hair roots die due to the tension and aren’t able to be reproduced.

In very rare cases, wearing a hat that’s too tight can also cause traction alopecia. Learn more about hats and hair loss.

20. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Over 20% of reproductive-aged women worldwide suffer from PCOS, which can cause acne, irregular periods, infertility, and weight gain [19].  Polycystic ovary syndrome can also cause hair loss.

Although there is currently no cure for PCOS, there are a variety of treatment options that you can follow, depending on what’s recommended for you by your GP.

Other health conditions that cause menstrual disruption such as endometriosis are rarely linked with hair loss, but the ensuing stress may lead to hair shedding.

21. Psoriasis

More than 50% of scalp psoriasis sufferers also experience lesions on their scalp skin which can flake off, cause dandruff and create broken skin which can often feel very uncomfortable.

Your risk of psoriasis is normally higher when you have a family history of the condition, but there are also other triggers such as smoking, stress and hormonal changes.

22. Thyroid problems

People who suffer from thyroid problems will often experience hair loss too. This is because too much thyroid hormone and too little are both linked to hair loss.

However, as soon as the thyroid problem has been treated, hair growth will normally resume.

23. Sleep disorders

Sleep and hair loss are closely linked. Studies have found that lack of sleep can disrupt the hair cycle, and lead to conditions like alopecia areata [20].

Getting a good night’s sleep also keeps your mental health in check, preventing hair loss associated with anxiety and depression.

24. Infections and scalp problems

Fungal and bacterial scalp infections are often linked to excessive sebum production. Overproduction of sebum is known as seborrhoea, and can cause seborrheic dermatitis — a skin condition similar to dandruff. While this doesn’t usually cause hair loss in itself, scratching your scalp in response to discomfort and itchiness can lead to hair follicle damage and hair loss.

Ketoconazole, which is usually used to treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot, has shown promising results for treating male pattern baldness [21]. Learn more about using a ketoconazole solution like Nizoral shampoo for hair loss.

25. Chemotherapy

Hair loss is an inevitable part of chemotherapy and will normally happen two to three weeks into your treatment.

One popular treatment is ‘scalp cooling’, but it’s also important to use gentle shampoos, gentle brushing and limited styling to help combat potential hair loss.

26. Covid-19

Hair loss is now officially listed as a symptom of Covid-19. So if you’ve had a bout of Covid in the last few months, you may see delayed hair loss 3-5 months after infection.

Hair loss can also affect long Covid sufferers. Learn more about hair loss and Covid.

27. Vitamin deficiency

Vitamins are important for various functions in our bodies, including the ability to grow healthy, long hair.

If you’re deficient in certain vitamins, you will probably notice your hair becoming more brittle, dry and, eventually falling out. Learn more about the link between vitamins and hair growth.

How to prevent hair loss

As there are many causes of hair loss it is very important to pinpoint the type of hair loss you are suffering from to provide the correct hair loss treatment for you and help prevent further hair loss.

When you know the reason why your hair feels thinner, you’ll find it much easier to treat. It may be as simple as taking a vitamin or hair supplement, or may involve taking over-the-counter or topical treatments like FinasterideDutasteride, or Minoxidil.

Some common ways that you can prevent hair loss include avoiding excessive heat styling, being more gentle with the techniques and hair products you use, improving your diet, and giving your hair regular massages with warm oils.

Unfortunately for many, there is no real cure that can completely prevent or stop hair loss. In the case of androgenetic alopecia, the most common cause of hair loss, it all comes down to genetics. Although there are certain ways that you can counteract some of the effects of hair loss in some cases, there’s not always a quick solution for many people who are suffering from balding.

If you are concerned about balding and hair loss, the best thing to do is speak to a UK hair transplant clinic. They will first be able to get to the root of your issue and will also be able to recommend the best next steps that you should follow. This won’t always involve surgery as often, many types of hair loss can be reduced with non-invasive treatments.

What to do when hair loss treatments don’t work

Although there are many different hair treatments out there that you can try if you’re suffering from hair loss, they are not always guaranteed to work, especially for women, who are more limited when it comes to treatment options than men.

If you are looking for more permanent treatments that are guaranteed to bring back your long and luscious locks, a hair transplant may be the best option for you.

At Wimpole Clinic, we specialise in two of the most common forms of hair transplants: FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantations). Both of these procedures offer patients an extremely natural-looking result without having to worry about trying a range of different medications and treatments. Take a look at our hair transplant clinic reviews and before and after hair transplant gallery to see how we’ve helped dozens of previous patients.

Hair transplants are a great option for both men and women but, if you want to find out more about how it could work for you, we’d love to talk you through the process. Book a free consultation with our team.

Why Is My Hair Falling Out? 27 Reasons You’re Losing Hair, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on April 5, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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