Why is my hair falling out?!

The average person has a natural hair loss of approximately 100 strands a day. That sounds like a lot, right? But it is the normal shedding process for all of us. Most people don’t really notice this daily hair loss, because there are approximately 100 000 hair follicles on the average head. The hair falls out here and there as we go about our days, and new hair is always growing back to replace the shedded hair. Yes, the new hair…. those annoying little fluffy strands that surround your hairline like a little hair halo! As long as you keep seeing those, you know you’re ok and aren’t going bald 🙂 But sometimes the hair loss becomes extreme. This excessive shedding is called Telogen Effluvium. You notice that there are way more shedded strands than usual left behind in your hairbrush, or left in your hands when washing your hair. The panic starts to kick in, and you ask yourself “Why is my hair falling out?!”.

What to do?

Below is a list of 5 common causes of hair loss. Even if your hair is shedding as it should, it’s good to know this information so that you can possibly take precautions and avoid being filled with anxiety if ever you experience a lot of hair loss. Hair loss does not happen overnight. Due to our hair growing in cycles, it could take up to 3 months for your hair to fall out after experiencing the trigger that has caused it. It is advisable, though, that if you experience excessive daily hair shedding for longer than 3 months, you should schedule an appointment with a trichologist or your GP, as there could be an underlying factor that you require a professional diagnosis for. It’s easier said than done, but try not to panic. Telogen effluvium is pretty much self-eliminating and your hair growth and normal hair loss should get back to normal on its own once you have eliminated the stresses and managed to get the internal balances right. 

Nutrients and Supplements – These can help!

Iron is absolutely essential for producing hair cell protein, and so an iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Eat those leafy greens, lentils and nuts! If you feel you’re not consuming enough iron in your daily diet, take a supplement as well. If your body is lacking Vitamin B12, it can leave you feeling low on energy and exhausted. Well, it can also take its toll on your hair. A lack of Vitamin B12 can affect the health of your red blood cells which carry the much needed oxygen to your tissues. Our hair is made up of protein, which makes having an adequate daily intake of protein rich foods essential. Try and include a bit of protein with every meal.

Staying away from Complex Carbohydrates? Think again! They play an essential role in providing our hair with the energy it needs to grow. Snacking on the healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts in between your main meals will keep those much needed energy levels up and available to your hair cells. Try to keep a maximum of 4 hours in between snacks and meals.

As the hair is actually a non-essential tissue, the nutritional requirements for it are unique. Aside from maintaining a healthy diet, supplementation is actually incredibly helpful in boosting levels of the vitamins and minerals available to your follicles. Make it a habit to take them along with your meals every day. Particularly aim for the supplements that contain Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, and the essential amino acids, L-Lysine and L-Methionine.

Hormones – Too much or too little?

Anyone that has experienced pregnancy will remember how fabulous their hair was during their pregnancy. The overflow of hormones and extra blood flow through your body during pregnancy helps your hair grow at lightening speed, and it feels and looks thicker and shinier and just fabulous…. And then we have our babies, and we just start experiencing massive hair loss. Not immediately, though. Mother Nature allows us another 3 months or so before pulling out our strands at what feels like 200 hairs at a time! This is perfectly normal, ladies. It’s just due to your hormones returning to normal, and so ensuring the hair growth returns to normal at the same time. 

The dreaded menopause….If you’re in the midst of experiencing it or are just about entering into menopause, the changes in your body may also affect your hair. It’s important to realise that as our bodies age, so does our hair. The older we get, the finer our hair gets. This is a perfectly normal and natural part of the ageing process.

Stress – Try not to!

Yes, it’s true. Excess stress can literally cause hair loss. How does this happen? Excessive stress can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which in turn can stimulate hair loss. Stress may also cause scalp problems (dandruff), disrupt eating habits and then so mess with the digestive system – all of which can have a negative impact on hair. Some of us are naturally just stress pots by nature, but try and find something that helps reduce your stress. Meditate, take up a new hobby, or just put on a good song and dance around your house like no-one is watching!

General Anaesthesia

Excessive hair loss is most commonly due to mental or physiological stress. Undergoing general anaesthesia results in loss of awareness and consciousness, and it blocks your nerves on a full body scale. Anaesthesia is a physiological stress put on your body, and your hair may prematurely enter the telegenic / resting phase when faced with such an experience. This is because the hair follicle is surrounded by nerves. When under stress, these nerves send out a distress signal. This can lead to the hair follicle “shutting down”. When this happens, the hair strand that is already in this follicle is “squeezed” by the nerves – causing damage to the hair in the follicle which is under the scalp. This damaged hair is going to take approximately 2-3 months to reach the surface and try to now push through to above the scalp. With the damage caused, the hair is weak and unfortunately breaks off at the scalp surface. Your hair will grow back. It will just take a few months for you to see enough new hair to put your mind at ease.

Weight Loss – Do it slowly!

Whether it’s been intentional or not, a sudden and steep drop with your weight can impact your hair immensely. You will more than likely experience excessive hair loss within 6-12 weeks after dramatic weight loss.

While psychologically our hair is incredibly important to us, in reality, physiologically it is non-essential. Which means we can survive without it with no detriment to our physical health. So, if we have any nutritional deficiency in our bodies, it will more than likely show up in our hair first. This means that any nutritional deficiency often first shows up in our hair. Remember that if you adopt a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and avoid those crash diets, you will feel good physically and your hair will radiate around you.

Be smart about your hair styling. Yes, the messy top knot and slicked back, high ponytails may look cool, but they are probably placing immense stress on your hair strands. Any styles that force the hair into an unnatural direction for too long, or that are too tight and heavy, can cause traction alopecia. This is a gradual hair loss that is caused when pulling your hair too tight for long periods. It can eventually cause irreversible damage on the hair follicle, resulting in the hair never growing back.

Sudden and extreme hair loss can leave you feeling stressed, but it’s important to realise that female hair loss is common, and if you are experiencing it, you are not alone and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Also remember that one product alone will not be the sole remedy for your hair loss. You need also look at your general health, diet, as well as ensuring optimum health of your scalp and the condition of your growing hairs. Overall, it’s a horrible (and sometimes traumatic) thing to experience hair loss, but try be patient and not to despair. Your natural hair growth cycle should take effect and you could see an improvement within 6 weeks.