What Are the Roots of Hair Loss?
There’s no single cause. Triggers range from medical conditions — as many as 30 — to stress and lifestyle factors, like what you eat. Your genes play a role, too. Sometimes doctors can’t find a specific reason. As a starting point, hair loss experts suggest you get tested for thyroid problems and hormone imbalances. Hair often grows back once the cause is addressed.
Can You Measure Hair Loss?
Yes. Doctors use the Savin scale. It ranges from normal hair density to a bald crown, which is rare. The scale helps document female pattern baldness, a condition your doctor might call androgenic alopecia. You probably know it as male pattern baldness, but it affects about 30 million American women. Experts think genes and aging play a role, along with the hormonal changes of menopause. Your hair could thin all over, with the greatest loss along the center of the scalp.
Hair Loss Trigger: Thyroid Problems
This butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck pumps out chemicals that keep your body humming along. If it makes too much or too little thyroid hormone, your hair growth cycle might take a hit. But thinner locks are rarely the only sign of a thyroid problem. You might lose or gain weight, become sensitive to cold or heat, or notice changes in your heart rate.
Hair Loss Trigger: PCOS
If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), your hormones are always out of whack. Your body makes more male hormones, or androgen, than it should. This can cause extra hair to sprout on your face and body while the hair on your head thins out. PCOS can also lead to ovulation problems, acne, and weight gain. But sometimes thinning hair is the only obvious sign.
Hair Loss Trigger: Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata causes hair to fall out in big patches. The culprit is your own immune system, which attacks healthy hair follicles by mistake. In most cases, the damage isn’t permanent. The missing locks should grow back in 6 months to a year. Some people lose all the hair on their scalp and body, but that’s rare.
Hair Loss Trigger: Ringworm
When the ringworm fungus affects your scalp, it triggers a distinct hair loss pattern — itchy, round bald patches. They might also look scaly and red. Your doctor will treat it with antifungal medication. It’s easy to spread by direct contact, so check your family members for symptoms, too.