Thinning of hair is a common problem seen across people of all age groups and in both sexes. There are numerous factors that can trigger hair fall right from the use of hair styling products to not washing the hair properly. Even hair pollution can lead to hair loss. But thinning of hair should never be ignored as it can also be a sign of an underlying health problem. Yes, there are several medical conditions which can lead to thinning of hair and subsequently cause hair loss. In this article, we shed light on some of the common medical causes of thinning hair in women along with few tips to prevent it.
Causes of Hair Loss due to Thinning Hair
If you have been experiencing hair fall at a rapid rate or if your hairbrush is always filled with hair strands, then it could be high time to visit a dermatologist. This is because, it could be due to Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL), which is a condition that is generally observed in women crossing their forties and need treatment. While FPFL is a hereditary condition, other factors that cause thinning hair in women include:
1. Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Apart from the common symptoms of anemia such as fatigue, dizziness, headache and cold, hair loss is also a prominent symptom of anemia. If you have too little iron in the blood, the body uses it to support vital functions than keeping your hair intact. To overcome this issue, you should include iron-rich foods like meat, fish, dairy products and soy in your meal. Do not take iron supplements to increase the intake of iron without consulting your doctor as excess iron can make things worse.
2. Protein Deficiency
The human hair is primarily made of a protein termed as keratin. Hence, deficiency of protein can impact the growth of hair and can also lead to hair loss. Moreover, a lack of protein can make the hair more prone to damage. In order to overcome protein deficiency, you should increase your protein intake through protein-rich foods such as soy milk, tofu, kidney beans, and lentils.
When your thyroid gland becomes underactive and does not produce enough hormones, your body’s metabolism and growth are disturbed. This can impact the overall growth and development of hair follicles and its function. As a result, hair loss can occur. Hypothyroidism is one of the key causes of hair thinning in women. If you think you are suffering from hypothyroidism or lose hair significantly, you should immediately visit a doctor to get diagnosed and start proper treatment.
4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition in women where there is an imbalance of male and female sex hormones. As a result, women tend to experience hair loss. PCOS can also increase the risk of diabetes, infertility and thinning hair in women, which if left ignored can cause severe hair fall. To treat the hair loss due to PCOS, you should adopt a regular exercise schedule along with having a healthy diet. But before starting anything, it is wise to consult a doctor who will recommend the right treatment plan to tackle both PCOS and its associated health problems including hair loss.
5. Vitamin B deficiency
As your hair and scalp thrive on B-complex vitamins, deficiency of these vitamins can cause serious damage to your scalp. This in turn not only affects the absorption of nutrients through the scalp but also impacts the growth of the hair follicles. Hence, lack of this vitamin, in the long run, can gradually lead to thinning of hair. The only way to treat hair thinning due to Vitamin B is to up the intake of these vitamins either through diet or supplements. Foods containing high levels of Vitamin B such as whole grains, meat, eggs, legumes, and dark leafy vegetables.
6. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia Areata disorder arises when you have an overactive immune system. The exceptionally active immune system treats hair follicles as foreign bodies and starts to destroy it. This causes dramatic hair loss which should be treated medically. Hence, do not ignore hair fall as it can signify an underlying health problem which if left untreated can lead to severe hair loss and even baldness.
Similar to alopecia areata, lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes hair thinning and damage to your scalp. However, unlike alopecia areata hair loss due to lupus cannot grow back naturally, and you need to consult a stylist to cover the damaged scalp. Hence, consult your doctor to know the cause of it and treat it in the early stage.
It goes without saying that physical, as well as emotional stress, can result in severe hair loss. Hair thinning due to physical stress either due to an illness or surgery can be recovered over a certain period. But hair loss due to emotional stress is difficult to treat as it not only causes hormonal changes in the body but can trigger a series of health problems. The best way to deal with stress is to stay away from triggers of stress and practice techniques that help to ease stress. These include regular physical activity, yoga, meditation, dancing, playing with kids, painting, sports, etc.
9. Excessive Hairstyling
Too much hair styling and excessive use of chemical based hair products can also result in hair loss. Different chemical treatments can damage your hair and can eventually result in bald scalp. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid excess use of harsh chemicals on your hair. You can go natural when it comes to dealing with thinning of hair or improving your hair growth and strength. Oil your hair regularly and use mild shampoos to wash your hair. Say no to tight braids and heating tools as it can damage the hair in the long run.
10. Reactive Medications
Yes, there are certain medicines which can cause an allergic reaction, affecting your scalp. This can result in excessive hair fall and thinning hair. Additionally, medicines such as blood-thinner pills, antidepressant drugs, and blood pressure pills can increase hair loss. If you are taking any such drugs or if you feel that these drugs are impacting your hair, consult your doctor. Your doctor may recommend alternatives which have a minimal effect on the hair.
If you are suffering from an unprecedented hair-loss or thinning hair, you should check whether it is due to an underlying health problem or changes in diet or environment. This is why you should consult an expert doctor if you see any of the signs of hair loss and get it treated.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
1. Thinning hair and hair loss: Could it be female pattern hair loss? | American Academy of Dermatology [Internet]. aad.org. 2018 [cited 8 August 2018].
2. What causes hair loss in women? | American Academy of Dermatology [Internet]. aad.org. 2018 [cited 9 August 2018].