By Dr Tanvi Tijoriwala
Have you ever taken a shower or brushed your hair and noticed so much of it on the floor? Having clumps of hair fall out can be extremely disheartening and frustrating. Although losing hair is often blamed on growing old, most of the times, it has little to do with aging. When noticing changes to our hair, intuitively, many of us gravitate towards applying creams, oils and ointments to our scalps to stop the constant loss of hair. However, treating the root cause of hair loss can be more beneficial in preventing it. What are some common root causes of hair loss, grey hair and hair thinning? Let’s take a look:
As stressful as it is to lose hair, stress can also be a trigger for hair loss. Hair loss caused by stress or mental trauma is medically termed as Telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is characterized by clumps of hair falling out –especially while brushing your hair or showering. The hair loss can manifest around 3 to 5 months after experiencing a stressful event. The stressful events can range from work stress to longstanding illness. Working on stress management techniques and removing any stressful triggers can help preserve hair integrity.
The most common deficiencies that have been linked to hair loss are – iron, vitamin D, folate and vitamin B12. These nutrients have also been linked to graying and thinning of hair. In people experiencing hair loss, especially women, iron deficiency is more common than others. Since the best sources of iron are meat based, vegetarians and vegans are more susceptible to iron deficiency.
Supplementing with these nutrients can preserve hair integrity. Although supplements are easily accessible, it is important to use them safely. Always consult your primary health care doctor before supplementing. In addition to supplementation, having a balanced diet of carbs, proteins and healthy fats can also prevent hair loss.
Those suffering from thyroid disorders already know that hair loss is a common symptom associated with this condition. An increased or decreased level of thyroid hormone can alter hair biology. Thyroid hormones not only affect hair growth, but they can also affect hair pigmentation. Testing thyroid levels and treating the underlying thyroid condition is important to prevent thyroid related hair loss.
An imbalance in hormones, particularly an increase in testosterone, is often related to hair loss. This type of hair loss is called androgenic alopecia and is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women (yes! Women can have high testosterone levels as well). Androgenic alopecia can also be genetic, especially in certain ethnicities such as South Asians.
Other: some other common causes of hair loss are autoimmune disease and fungal infections. Identifying and treating these triggers is important in preserving hair integrity.
Conclusion: There are several underlying health factors that can lead to hair loss. Finding the root cause and treating it can help prevent further graying, thinning and loss of hair.