15 Causes of Hair Loss: Why Is Your Hair Falling Out?

By Paul Taylor

15 causes of hair loss

There can be many possible causes of hair loss, so obviously it’s very important to find out exactly which type of disorder you have, and then get the right treatment.

This page will help you check whether your hair loss is what you think it is. Just ask yourself the questions below. Then follow the links.

Note: certain types of hair loss are much more likely to develop in either men or women (e.g., postpartum hair loss will definitely affect more women!) These gender differences are mentioned on each page where applicable.

Q1. Have You Got Androgenetic Alopecia?

This is the most common type of hair loss. It affects both men and women.

In men, it usually develops into the familiar "male pattern baldness" profile – receding temples, a bald patch at the back, or both. However, some men might only experience gradual hair thinning from androgenetic alopecia.

In women, it usually develops as gradual thinning rather than severe baldness. It affects them in the same region as in men (front, back and crown) and this distinguishes it from the telogen effluvium conditions in the next section which involves thinning over the whole scalp.

See what androgenetic alopecia looks like and learn about this condition.

Q2. Do You Have Slow Progressive Thinning Across the Entire Scalp?

Hair loss that develops gradually over many years could be one of the following conditions:

Telogen effluvium - Three versions of this disorder are explained. One of which, acute telogen effluvium, can easily be confused with alopecia areata (see next section) because both develop very quickly.

However, there is a big difference: acute telogen effluvium causes thinning across the whole scalp (diffuse hair loss), whereas alopecia areata is more localized and severe (small bald spots and bald patches).

Chronic telogen effluvium - This is especially common in women, but can also apply to men. It develops slowly over many years.

Note: slow progressive thinning can also be caused by androgenetic alopecia - see Q1 above.

Q3. Is Your Hair Loss Extremely Rapid?

If clumps of hair fall out in just days, or even overnight, it could be one of the areata family of diseases. These include:

Alopecia areata – One or more bald spots or patches quickly develop within one or two days, possibly even overnight.

Alopecia totalis - Someone with this condition will suffer total scalp hair loss (i.e., including the eyebrows and eyelashes). And they could lose it all within a week.

Alopecia universalis - Complete loss of body hair, pubic hair, nose, ear, scalp and facial hair. All gone, possibly within a week.

Learn about these three conditions.

Q4. Did Your Hair Loss Start Following Pregnancy?

Three conditions that can cause pregnancy-related hair loss are explained. These involve hormone balance, immune system and stress levels.

Learn about postpartum hair loss.

Q5. Do You Have an Existing Medical Condition?

Some causes of hair loss are due to pre-existing medical conditions. These include:

Thyroid conditions - Hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and thyroiditis can all cause many symptoms including hair thinning and hair loss (especially the eyebrows).

Eyebrow hair loss - As just mentioned, thyroid conditions can often cause hair loss of the eyebrows (as can alopecia totalis and universalis). Learn about my own eyebrow hair loss, how I treated it, and what happened.

Fibromyalgia - Hair loss is just one of many symptoms fibromyalgia can cause. Learn how a vicious circle can form which makes your hair loss even worse. Also learn how you might be able to successfully treat this condition.

Q6. Could it be Some Other Very Rare Type of Hair Loss?

Some types of hair loss are so rare and unusual that they're not covered by this website. But there's one very interesting type that can sometimes be confused with alopecia areata:

Cicatricial alopecia – This is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own hair follicles causing bald patches to develop.

Q7. Could Hair Accessories Literally be Pulling Your Hair Out?

Braids, bands, clips, caps, hats, helmets, etc. could all be possible reasons for hair loss developing if you wear any of them regularly enough and for long periods of time.

This is called traction alopecia or friction alopecia.

Q8. Can Washing Hair Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss and hygiene sometimes seem to go hand in hand.

But can washing hair with shampoo too much (or too little) contribute to the hair loss process? Some people think it can.

This article investigates whether the frequency with which you wash your hair might affect hair growth and hair loss.

Can Washing Hair Cause Hair Loss?

Q9. Do You Blame Stress for Your Hair Loss?

Clearly, stress is not exactly going to help. So it definitely could be a reason for your hair loss getting worse. Stress can't cause hair loss on its own, but certain types of hair loss have a much more obvious link to stress than others.

Read the following page to find out which types these are, and how stress and hair loss can be connected.

Stress and hair loss.

Q10. Can Aging or the Menopause Cause Hair Loss?

In women, low estrogen levels can cause the menopause and hair loss to coincide. In men, the "andropause" should mean less hair loss. And, for both men and women, HRT might just make things worse.

Aging, menopause and hair loss.

Q11. Could Certain Foods or Dieting Be Causes of Hair Loss?

Learn how a junk food diet can increase your waistline and decrease your hairline. Also learn why crash diets might have a terrible effect on your hair.

Diet and hair loss.

Summary

Some causes of hair loss mentioned above are very rare conditions and diseases. But, in most cases, androgenetic alopecia will be to blame (as already mentioned).

However, getting an accurate diagnosis might not be so straightforward.

Sometimes there could even be multiple reasons for hair loss developing. For example, pregnancy, stress, and an underlying thyroid condition. And that can easily lead to confusion and uncertainty.

Clearly then, to confirm which type of hair loss you have, and how best to treat it, you should consult with a doctor.

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