A Dermatologist Explains 4 Common Hair Loss Causes

If you find an errant hair on your pillow in the morning, or if your ponytail begins to look thin, it might start while you’re showering. It is not only unpleasant to realize that your hair is falling out, it is associated with a barrage of questions flying through your head, like “WTF?” and “Why is this happening to me????””, and I have been through it all.

The first thing you should do is not panic. More than half of all women will lose their hair at some point in their lifetime, and it’s a very common occurrence. It is also a good thing that many times it is fixable.

You will need to figure out the cause of the shedding before you look for solutions. This usually means scheduling an appointment with your dermatologist. Dermatologists based in Pittsburgh say the only way to know what type of hair loss [you might have] and what causes it is to be examined in person by a dermatologist.” There are innumerable causes of hair loss, as well as countless types of hair loss. Keep reading for the four possible causes of that clump in your drain that she says might be to blame.

1. Distress

When you’re stressed, your hair may shed more than 150 strands per day, known as telogen effluvium. “When we’re stressed, our adrenal glands produce this hormone called cortisol, and then the cortisone signals our hair follicles to shift from the growth phase, out of growth phase into catagen [a transition phase], and then hair will fall out,” Tess Marshall, ND, a naturopathic doctor who works with hair-growth supplement Nutrafol, previously told Well+Good.

You should start by dealing with whatever stressors are hanging around in your life in order to combat stress-related hair loss. In spite of this, picking the right products may be a more helpful approach than just trying to be less stressed. Using products that have chemicals in them that disrupt all the hormone systems in our bodies can negatively affect our hair, says Dr. Marshall, who recommends instead using botanical-based shampoos and conditioners from brands such as Verb and Prose.

2. Excessive hair brushing

A hard brushing may result in chunks of hair coming out every time you run it through your strands. “Brushing your hair too aggressively can damage your hair at its base or the hair follicle, where the hair grows,” says Dr. Zubritsky. “Continuous, repetitive trauma to the hair follicle or bulb may eventually result in irreparable damage, preventing the hair from growing back.” The best way to prevent this is to brush only once and keep your non-brushing hand nearby to prevent pulling and tugging. Additionally, you can use a wet brush or boar bristle brush to make sure you don’t cause any further harm.

3. Deficiency in vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D have been found to be associated with several types of hair loss, including telogen effluvium, an autoimmune condition called alopecia areata, and female pattern hair loss, says Zubritsky. “It is more common than most of us realize.” If you suspect your levels are low, make an appointment with your dermatologist or primary care physician to get things checked. The best thing you can do in that situation is to tweak your diet or add vitamin D supplements to your routine to bring things back into balance.

4. Biological hormones

Add “hair loss” to the list of annoying things hormones are responsible for (right above mood swings and bloating). In pregnant women, hair loss is often caused by a condition called telogen effluvium, which is a temporary hair shedding that happens several months after giving birth due to hormonal fluctuations,” says Dr. Zubritsky. “Telogen effluvium is sometimes caused by hormonal changes, such as taking birth control pills or going through menopause.” While there are not any specific treatments, for most women it resolves itself.

In the video below, you can find more hair loss-related information.

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