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Why Is My Hair Falling Out?

Kristin Hall

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 05/15/2021

It is totally normal to lose a bit of hair every day — in fact, the average person loses between 50 and 100 hairs per day. But if you’re losing much more than that, it can be worrisome and even scary. 

To make matters more complicated, there’s a difference between hair loss and shedding. Read on to learn about what the difference is, what may be causing your hair to fall out and how to treat it. 

Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss

If you’re dealing with shedding, hair tends to fall out for a certain amount of time before growing back. 

Excessive hair shedding is considered a medical condition — the official name for it is telogen effluvium. Usually, excessive shedding is caused by life stressors like having a baby or going through a divorce. When the stressor disappears, your hair will come back.

Hair loss is quite different and it occurs when something prevents your hair from growing. If you’re dealing with this, it will not rectify itself. You’ll need to address the cause of the hair loss before you can figure out how to get it to grow back. 

You may think hair loss is only something men deal with, but many women face it, too. Pattern hair loss, which is the most common type, will be experienced by 40 percent of women by the time they are fifty.

Scheduling time with a dermatologist is the best way to assess if you’re dealing with hair loss or hair shedding.

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Common Reasons Your Hair May be Falling Out

Genetics

Hereditary hair loss is the most common type of hair loss and it can start at any age — some women even notice it in their teens, though it’s more common later in life. The medical term for this is androgenic alopecia. If you have this, it means you have inherited genes that cause your hair follicles to shrink and stop growing hair.

This type of hair loss occurs when your body has an excessive response to androgens — which are the hormones that contribute to hair growth and reproductive abilities.

Most women who deal with genetic hair loss, first notice overall thinning. A widening part is also something that may occur. 

Hormones

Hormones can be to blame for a lot of annoying things — adult acne, weight gain and, yes, hair loss. 

While testosterone is usually associated with men, it’s also present in women. This hormone actually promotes reproductive and non-reproductive functions in females.

When that testosterone roams free, it can attach to androgen receptors in the hair bulb and the dermal papilla which regulates hair growth. In turn, this can shrink your hair follicles.

Sometimes that roaming testosterone will also be converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can also attach to androgen receptors and cause hair loss.

Menopause

During menopause, women begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone. Both of these hormones are connected to hair growth and health.

With less estrogen and progesterone in your system, there’s more room for testosterone to roam free and, as mentioned above, affect hair health.

Thyroid Issues

Your thyroid gland is vital in controlling your body’s metabolism, but it also plays a role in the health of your hair follicles. Both hypothyroidism (when your body produces too little of the thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (when you produce too much of the thyroid hormone) can affect hair growth.

Hypothyroidism can cause delays in hair growth, which means you may lose hair without it replacing itself. On the flip side, hyperthyroidism can cause finer hair to grow, which is more likely to break.

Hair Care Habits

From dying your strands to wearing certain styles, certain hair habits can cause your hair to fall out. 

Coloring, perming or relaxing your hair can all cause damage—especially if you do any of these things frequently. When too much damage is caused, it can lead to hair loss.

If you love to wear your hair in tight hairstyles like a ponytail or bun, you may also be causing damage that will lead to hair loss. There’s even a term for this condition—it’s called traction alopecia. Essentially, the constant pulling causes permanent hair loss. 

It is totally normal to lose a bit of hair every day — in fact, the average person loses between 50 and 100 hairs per day. But if you’re losing much more than that, it can be worrisome and even scary. 

To make matters more complicated, there’s a difference between hair loss and shedding. Read on to learn about what the difference is, what may be causing your hair to fall out and how to treat it. 

How to Treat Hair Loss

No matter what is causing your hair to fall out, there are treatment options available to you. From medications to hair care strategies, here are some of the most common options: 

Minoxidil 

If genetics are behind your hair loss, chances are a healthcare provider will suggest you try topical minoxidil. Minoxidil is sold under the brand name Rogaine® and comes in a 2% solution or 5% foam. This medication is FDA-approved for androgenetic alopecia.

Here’s how topical minoxidil works: When applied, it sends a signal to your blood vessels to open wide so that more nutrients and oxygen can get to the hair to improve its health. Additionally, it stretches out the growth period for hair, which means more follicles are created to replace lost hair.

Spironolactone

If it turns out testosterone is causing your hair to fall out, a healthcare provider may prescribe you the acne drug spironolactone. Yup, you read that right. This acne medication is sometimes prescribed to treat hair loss.

Spironolactone works by preventing testosterone from turning into DHT. It also slows down the production of androgens, which will prevent or slow hair loss.

Healthy Hair Habits

If things like dye or the style you wear are leading to hair loss, giving your tresses some TLC can go a long way in promoting healthy hair growth. These pointers can address the damaged hair you have and prevent more from occurring regardless of your hair types:

  • Brittle hair is prone to breakage, so use a conditioner after every shampoo to keep hair hydrated.

  • Skip the hair dryer and let your hair air dry whenever possible. If you do use hot tools, set them on the lowest setting to avoid burning strands. 

  • Avoid tight ponytails and buns and opt for looser stylers.

  • If you wear a weave of extensions, look for ones that are light and do not pull on the scalp.

  • If you dye your hair, add more time between touch-ups and avoid doing multiple services (like coloring, relaxing or perming) at once. Instead, wait two weeks between each service. 

Hair Transplant 

In extreme cases, a healthcare provider may recommend a hair transplant as a permanent solution to your hair loss. This procedure is done by a dermatologist and takes between four and eight hours to complete. 

During a hair transplant, the healthcare provider will take hair from one area of your body (usually the back of your scalp, but it can come from other areas of your body, too) and transplant it to the area where your hair has fallen out.

Most people who have a hair transplant will see results within 6 to 9 months after the procedure. 

It is totally normal to lose a bit of hair every day — in fact, the average person loses between 50 and 100 hairs per day. But if you’re losing much more than that, it can be worrisome and even scary. 

To make matters more complicated, there’s a difference between hair loss and shedding. Read on to learn about what the difference is, what may be causing your hair to fall out and how to treat it. 

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Finding Out the Reasons Why Is Your Hair Falling Out 

To sum it up, there are a number of things that can lead to why is hair falling out for women. The best way to assess what’s going on in your specific case is to see a dermatologist.

They will be able to talk to you and look at your scalp to determine if your hair loss is being caused by a hormonal shift, genetics, bad hair habits or something else entirely. 

Once the cause is identified, you can then figure out the best hair loss treatment for you. From there, you will be on the road to having a healthy head of hair again. 

14 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Do You Have Hair Loss or Shedding? American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/shedding
  2. Famenini, S., Slaught, C., Duan, L., et al (2016, October). Demographics of women with female pattern hair loss and the effectiveness of spironolactone therapy. J Am Acad Dermatol 73(4): 705-706. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4573453/
  3. Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes
  4. Ho, C., Sood, T., Zito, P. (2020, September). Androgenetic Alopecia. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
  5. Islam, R., Bell, R., Green, S., Davis, S. (2019). Effects of testosterone therapy for women: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. Systematic Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329173/
  6. Brough, K., Torgerson, R., (2017, March). Hormonal therapy in female pattern hair loss. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology 3(1): 53-57. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419033/
  7. Goluch-Koniuszy, Z. (2016, March). Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Menopause Review 15(1): 56-61. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828511/#:~:text=Physiologically%2C%20during%20the%20period%20of,cause%20of%20androgenic%20hair%20loss.
  8. Grymowicz, M., Rudnicka, E., Agnieszka, P., et al. (2020, August). International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21(15): 5342. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488/
  9. Van Beek, N., Bodo, E., Kromming, A., et al (2008, November). Thyroid Hormones Directly Alter Human Hair Follicle Functions: Anagen Prolongation and Stimulation of Both Hair Matrix Keratinocyte Proliferation and Hair Pigmentation. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Volume 93, Issue 11, 4381-4388. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/93/11/4381/2627273
  10. Layal, C., Antonio, B., Jacqueline, J., Robin P., (2017, March). Hypothyroidism Lancet. 2017 Sep 23; 390(10101): 1550–1562. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6619426/
  11. Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes
  12. How to stop damaging your hair. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/stop-damage
  13. A hair transplant can give you permanent, natural looking results. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/transplant
  14. Pulickal JK, Kaliyadan F. Traction Alopecia. Updated 2020 Aug 12. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470434/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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