I know that this is a “touchy subject” for some, but at some point in our lives a lot of us face the issue of hair loss. It will likely be as a result of a health issue or our diets.
With thyroid disease comes hair loss. It’s definitely not something I ever thought I would be facing, but here I am and fighting with this issue, for me, has not been fun.
As an adult, I watched my mother’s hair thin dramatically as she aged, but she also had Hashimoto’s disease which contributed to her hair loss as well. Unfortunately, at that time, it wasn’t widely publicized about women’s hair loss issues so you pretty much had no options to remedy it. I do know that she bought and wore wigs to help her out.
The thyroid isn’t the only health issue that can cause hair loss and I address some of these issues in this article.
Historically, men are more likely to lose their hair (due to male pattern baldness – see below) than women, but it seems women are suffering more and more and we do not like it at all! My source for this article is Health.com and Dr. Axe.com.
So what causes hair loss? There are some simple reasons such as vitamin deficiency and some more complex reasons such as underlying health conditions (i.e. thyroid disease).
What are some of these causes and possible treatments?
Male Pattern Baldness is a major cause of men’s hair loss. Two out of three men experience hair loss by age 60 and it is usually caused by male pattern baldness. This is a combination of genes and male sex hormones which causes an M-shaped hairline. Using a topical cream such as minoxidil (Rogaine) and/or oral medications can help stop hair loss and sometimes cause hair to grow. A more radical approach would be to go through surgery to transplant or graft hair.
Heredity can be the cause of hair loss in female pattern hair loss (androgenic or androgenetic alopecia) is the female version of male pattern baldness. Women, fortunately, don’t usually have a receding hairline, instead their hair starts to thin and their part may widen. Again minoxidil (Rogaine) may help grow hair or at least help you keep the hair you have.
Female Hormones can contribute to hair loss. Pregnancy, birth control pills, or menopause may cause the onset of hair loss – these are all times of hormonal imbalance that can trigger it but it should only be temporary.
Pregnancy is also considered a stressful time and can be the cause of hair loss, which will likely occur after the birth rather than during the pregnancy. This is a normal thing and will resolve itself once your body has recovered sufficiently from the birth.
Physical stress such as surgery, a car accident, severe illness, and sometimes flu can cause temporary hair loss. This type of hair loss usually doesn’t show up immediate to the incident, but may appear about 3-6 months later. As soon as your body recovers from its stressful incident, it should start to grow back again.
Too much Vitamin A will trigger hair loss. Daily intake of this vitamin should be limited to between 2,500 and 10,000 IU (International Units) – the recommended dosage is 5,000 IU. Once you reduce the excess vitamin A your hair should grow back normally.
Emotional stress may not be the actual cause of hair loss, but can exacerbate the problem if it already exists. If someone is going through a divorce, has had the death of a loved one, or perhaps has been caring for an aging parent, these can all be contributors. Try to help manage stressful situations if at all possible by getting more exercise and eating properly.
Lack of Protein is another cause of hair loss – if you reduce protein intake your body will shut down hair growth (which will happen about 2-3 months after a drop in protein intake). Great sources of protein include fish, meat, and eggs. If you are vegan or vegetarian here are 14 different protein sources you can check out from Health.com.
Anemia can be a cause of hair loss too. Iron deficiency is a major type of anemia and can easily be fixed using iron supplements. Make sure to check with your doctor first and have a blood test to determine if this is the type of anemia you have. There are other symptoms of anemia including fatigue, headache, dizziness, pale skin and cold hands and feet.
Hypothyroidism is a major contributor of hair loss due to the lack of hormones since your thyroid is compromised. This is something your doctor needs to check thoroughly (not just a TSH test, but should include T4, T3, Reverse T4, Reverse T3 and antibody testing to ensure you get the right diagnosis). Thyroid medication should help return your hormone levels to normal and alleviate the hair loss issue.
Vitamin B Deficiency is another correctable cause of hair loss. Again, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to see if this is the issue. If so, eating more fish, meat, starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits and maintaining a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and good fats will help with your hair growth. You could also take a good B Complex vitamin to help.
Autoimmune-related hair loss called alopecia areata is the result of an overactive immune system. Unfortunately the bodies immune system thinks your hair is a foreigner and targets it by mistake. If you are experiencing hair loss in round patches on your head it is most likely alopecia areata and can be treated with steroid injections that need to be done through your doctor/specialist. You could also try Rogaine, however, be aware that hair could grow back then fall out again.
Dramatic Weight Loss is a physical stressor that can result in thinning hair. It could be the weight loss itself, or the fact that you may not be eating right for you and may result in vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Anorexia or bulimia are known causes of hair loss. If you have been on a weight loss regimen and have hair loss, once you get back to your normal eating pattern, it will likely correct itself.
Chemotherapy is like a nuclear bomb and is a known cause of hair loss due to the harsh chemicals used to fight cancer. Chemotherapy destroys the cancer cells as well as normal cells. Once you stop having chemotherapy, your hair should grow back, but be aware that it may come back in a different way (colour, or curly if it was originally straight).
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – an imbalance in male and female sex hormones, can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain, higher risk of diabetes, changes in menstrual period, infertility, and hair thinning. It may also cause more hair on the face and body to occur due to over-representation of male hormones. Seeing your doctor and being appropriately treated for PCOS can help correct hormone imbalance and help reverse some of these issues.
Antidepressants, Blood Thinners, and more – drugs being used to help with health conditions such as blood thinners, blood-pressure medications (beta-blockers), RA drugs (methotrexate, leflunomide to name a couple), lithium (bipolar disorders), NSAIDS’s like ibuprofen and antidepressants are all known to cause hair loss. You should consult with your doctor/specialist to see if there’s another possible drug/treatment you could use to help avoid hair loss.
Aging is another common cause of hair thinning in women once they reach their 50s and 60s. There’s not much can be done at this point, however, women can use scarves, wigs, and different hair styles to hide thinning spots.
As you can see, there are many reasons why your hair may be thinning and many ways you can help either, avoid it altogether, or treat the issue.
Dr. Axe has some suggestions as to how you can treat hair loss with natural treatments, like food (what to eat and what to avoid), essential oils that can help stimulate hair growth and supplements. You could read his article here as well.
I’ve been using hair products to help with my hair thinning, such as Andalou Hair Thinning products – shampoo, conditioner, thickening spray, and scalp treatment, plus I’ve been using Dr. Axe’s recipe (to follow), and they seem to be working for me. There are many hair products out there that claim to work for hair loss, you will have to determine if they are right for you or not. I know that my Hashimoto’s is a large part of my hair loss issues, but I could have other things contributing to it as well, which I am investigating.
Update (1/13/18) – I’ve just read something very interesting about Spikenard Essential Oil and how it is very effective in treating hair loss. More about this in another post later.
I hope this information is of some help to you and hope that if you have hair loss issues, you are able to overcome them soon. Please see your health care team to determine if there is a medical condition causing your issues and see if there is something that can be done with their help.
Have a wonderful rest of your day and week ahead.