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Hair loss can be worrying, embarrassing, and difficult to treat, but it affects most people at some point in their lives. About 85 percent of men and 45 percent of women experience significantly thinning hair by the age of 50. Aging isn’t the only cause of hair loss, however, with many medical, dietary, and lifestyle factors playing a role.

Aging

Hair loss is most often caused by aging, so check how old your parents were when they started losing hair. This can help you estimate a timeline of your own scalp longevity. Some hair loss is natural once you’re into your 40s.

Alopecia

Alopecia occurs when the immune system starts mistakenly attacking hair follicles, limiting hair growth and causing round bald spots. It can be severe, permanent, and reoccurring, although the hair loss is mild for many people. Treatments are improving, however, so consult your doctor if you’re seeing completely hairless circular patches.

Stress

Emotional stress can cause balding or trigger alopecia in some people (particularly if it runs in your family). Try to get your stressors under control by adjusting your lifestyle, meditating, or seeing a psychologist. Your hair most likely will grow back over time.

Pregnancy

Bald patches commonly occur during pregnancy due to the influx of hormones that carrying a baby produces. The hair almost always grows back, but make sure to check in with your doctor if you see any significant scalp changes.

Going Off The Pill

Switching or going off contraceptive (birth control) pills can cause temporary hair loss in some women as the body readjusts to its natural levels of androgen and estrogen. This type of hair loss is particularly common in younger women.

Steroid Use

Anabolic steroids, most often used by bodybuilders and athletes, can also alter your hormonal balance and cause hair loss. This usually isn’t permanent, but it can be a sign that you need to give your body a break from steroids.

Too Much Vitamin A

Excess vitamin A can cause premature balding and hair loss in some people. Make sure your supplements contain less than the recommended daily limit of 5,000 IU.

Hypothyroidism

An underactive thyroid gland, known as hypothyroidism, can lead to significant hair loss as the body fails to produce enough hormones to keep the hair follicles active. Thyroid medications usually help with the hair loss as well as the underlying problem.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is an impulse-control disorder that causes sufferers to twist, tug, and pull out strands of hair from their head, eyebrows, or eyelashes. The underlying issue is psychological, so trichotillomania is best addressed by a cognitive behavioral therapist.

Intense Styling

Excessive usage of chemical hair relaxers and tight braids can cause the hair shaft to weaken and fall out. This hair loss can be permanent, so avoid intense styling and be gentle with your hair as it grows in.

Hair loss can be scary but it doesn’t have to rule your life. Reach out to a medical professional if you think that your hair loss is significant, and assess the treatment options available to you.

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