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Common Causes of Hair Loss

There are a number of reasons for hair loss, including chemotherapy treatment, a variety of forms of alopecia, and health or medication. Read through the causes below to help better understand your hair loss.


Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss seen in women. The hair is genetically programmed to gradually fall out and occurs to 1 in 4 women. Also known as Female Pattern Hair Loss, the individual will see hair loss happening over the top and sides of the head. Although this condition tends to be more common post menopause, it does sometimes begin as early as puberty.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune, genetically-related disease. It often appears as circular patches of hair loss. The hair follicles are attacked by a person’s own immune system, resulting in the arrest of the hair growth stage. While this can also affect hair on other parts of the body such as legs, eyebrows and eyelashes, the hair may or may not grow back on its own and may require treatment from a dermatologist. This condition will affect about 2% of the population and can have a profound impact on the individual’s life.

Traction alopecia occurs when continuous and excessive stress is placed in a pattern – usually hair styles like ponytails, braids and cornrows – that causes hair in those areas to quit growing, be it temporarily or permanently. Try a change of hair style to reverse the hair loss.

Chemotherapy Drugs & Radiation Treatment

Drugs and other aggressive cancer treatments can poison your hair follicles, sometimes resulting in complete hair loss. This hair loss is temporary; regrowth may take time, but your hair will eventually return to its normal colour and thickness.


Trichotillomania is an impulse-control disorder where a person compulsively pulls hair from the scalp. The disorder most commonly occurs in children, adolescents and women who have high levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Please seek behavioural therapy or psychiatric treatment.

Stress & Trauma

Physical or emotional stress can trigger hair loss whether people are predestined to lose hair or not. The effect of stress-induced hair loss is not permanent for women who do not have hereditary loss. Stress can trigger long-term hair loss for those women who are pre-disposed to hair loss. Drastic weight loss, severe illness, extreme sports training, loss of a loved one or other emotional stresses can cause hair loss. During periods of severe stress, the body simply shuts down the production of hair to focus energy on repairing vital organs. Hair loss may occur 1-3 months after an illness or surgery. The hair shifts into a resting phase and the re-growth cycle may be altered for 6 months or longer. Long-term health issues such as anemia, low blood counts and thyroid conditions can also contribute to hair loss and should be diagnosed by your physician.

Pseudopelade or Follicular Degeneration

This is common in African American women who do a lot of relaxers and cosmetic treatments to their scalp such as cornrows, braids and weaves. With years of perming (relaxers), using strong colourants and harsh chemicals on the scalp, the result can have a negative effect on the hair follicles deep in the scalp and cause the hair to scar, and eventually loosen the hair follicle.

Health and Medications

Conditions such as Lupus – or Malfunction of the thyroid gland – which cause hyperthyroid and hypothyroid disease are the only known health-related causes of thinning hair. Thinning hair can be a side effect to taking certain medications, specifically hormone replacement therapy drugs, birth control and estrogen pills, chemotherapy treatments, cranial radiation, thyroid disease treatments, even blood pressure, diabetic, heart disease and acne medications.

Lupus causes the immune system to become overactive and create antibodies that attack healthy tissues, including hair follicles.

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