The most common hair loss causes

Back in Ancient Greece, the famous philosopher Aristotle looked at his peers. All around him, he saw balding men. Children weren’t bald, nor were women. And in fact, eunuchs weren’t either.

Why does hair loss occur, he wondered? It must be because men produce semen! 

Aristotle was obviously wrong, because not all men go bald. However, he was onto something interesting. Hormones, among other factors, are associated with hair loss.

What are the reasons for hair loss?

The onset of hair loss symptoms generally mean that something has affected the hair growth cycle. However, there are many different reasons for hair loss.

According to studies in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications and Dermatologic Clinics journal, hair loss causes include:

  • Hereditary hair genetics
  • Hormonal factors
  • Immune system issues
  • Health problems, particularly kidney or liver issues
  • Medications or medical treatment
  • Dietary supplements
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Stress
  • Haircare and styling
  • Surgical trauma

Sometimes, multiple factors might be contributing to your hair loss. Determining the cause or causes is incredibly important: Understanding why your hair loss is occurring can help you identify the best treatment for your needs.

Hair loss causes and conditions

Hair loss can be unavoidable. Unfortunately, there are conditions that specifically cause hair loss. In other cases, your hair loss might be due to your diet, health, or lifestyle.

Androgenic alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern hair loss, is the most common cause of hair loss. Male pattern hair loss occurs because of genetic and hormonal factors.  

According to the study in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, people with this type of hair loss experience hair follicle miniaturization. This causes your hair to thin and get shorter.  

Eventually, people with male pattern hair loss tend to lose hair in specific areas. According to a different Dermatologic Clinics journal study, a receding hairline and hair loss around the temples and top of the head are all common symptoms of this type of hair loss.

Fortunately, there are lots of different treatment options for androgenic alopecia. These include minoxidil, microneedling, finasteride, low-level laser therapy, and hair restoration surgeries.

A man, facing backwards, holding up a brush with one hand and touching the crown of his head, where hair loss is present, with the other

Hair loss at the crown is a common sign of androgenic alopecia


Have you ever wondered if your hair was falling out because you were so stressed and frazzled? Well, you probably weren’t imagining things.

A Journal of Drugs in Dermatology study reported that the production of your body’s stress hormone, cortisol, can affect your skin – including your hair follicles. This means that stress can cause hair loss all on its own.

Stress-related hair loss is usually called telogen effluvium, though hormones might play a role too. This condition disrupts the hair growth cycle, causing short bursts of hair loss and reduced hair growth.  

Stress can also come hand-in-hand with other hair loss causes, though. For example, the stress of losing your hair due to an autoimmune condition, like alopecia areata, might actually make you lose even more hair.

Talk to your doctor about stress management strategies. They may also be able to recommend new treatments that are being developed specifically for stress-related hair loss.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. According to the study in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences, and Applications, it affects around 2 percent of people. This condition usually causes patchy, circular hair loss, but it also has the potential to affect your whole head or entire body.

Alopecia areata can manifest in different ways. Sometimes, it doesn’t even require treatment. However, in other cases, it can reoccur multiple times throughout life. If alopecia areata is the cause of your hair loss, talk to your doctor about your options.

A man's scalp, depicting three spots of round, patchy hair loss

Alopecia areata usually presents as round, patchy hair loss

Other autoimmune conditions and health problems

Other autoimmune conditions can also affect the health of your hair. The study in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences, and Applications says that conditions like lupus and thyroid problems can cause hair loss, too.

Other health issues can also contribute to hair loss. Trichotillomania, an impulse-control disorder that involves hair pulling, and kidney and liver problems are well-known causes of hair loss. According to a study in the Dermatologic Clinics journal, malabsorption disorders like Crohn’s disease might also contribute to hair loss. 

Infections and skin conditions, like psoriasis and dermatitis, are also related to hair loss. According to an International Journal of Trichology study, these conditions can affect the skin on your scalp, which in turn, prevents healthy hair growth.

Diet and nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can cause hair loss. But, before you start popping random multivitamin supplements, you should know that excessive consumption of certain nutrients can cause hair loss, too.

A study in the Dermatology Practical and Conceptual journal found that low amounts of certain nutrients, like B-complex vitamins and zinc, can cause hair loss symptoms. However, too much of other nutrients, like selenium and vitamin A, could also affect hair loss. Regardless of the reason, these nutritional issues can worsen the hair loss caused by a different condition.

Talk to your doctor or dietitian about your diet and any supplements you’ve been taking. They can help you figure out if you’ve been consuming too much or too little of a certain nutrient.

A spread of a variety of different foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, oil, eggs, and meat products

A varied, balanced diet can help prevent hair loss

Hair loss causes you can manage

Improper hair care – or lack of care – can play a major role in hair loss. Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes can help resolve these issues. 

Haircare and styling

How do you style your hair? According to the study in the journal Dermatologic Clinics, brushing your hair too much, blow-drying it with hot air, chemically treating it and dyeing it are all common hair loss causes.  

How about washing your hair – do you wash it daily? You might think you’re keeping your hair clean, but a study in the Indian Journal of Dermatology says that certain ingredients in your shampoo, like sulfates, can strip the oils from your hair.

When used too often, these products can cause your hair to become dry, frizzy, and rough. Your hair will lose its healthy shine and become prone to tangling.

This has a knock-on effect. Brushing dry, knotted, tangled hair can result in your hair breaking. Some might even get pulled out as you try to untangle it.

Lifestyle changes to prevent hair loss

The next time you go to buy shampoo, look at the ingredients list. Avoid shampoos with harsh detergents, and try to use conditioning shampoos if possible.

If your hair gets tangled, use a wide-toothed comb to detangle it. Make sure you detangle it from tip to root. Using a separate conditioning product can help you detangle your hair, too.  

You might not like the style change, but avoiding dyes, chemical relaxants, and heat treatments can improve your hair’s health. According to a study in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, choosing natural hairstyles over tight hairstyles like tight ponytails, cornrows or dreadlocks, can also help prevent hair loss. 

Last but not least, try to avoid excessively rubbing your hair — when you’re studying or concentrating, for instance — and wearing tight-fitting headbands, scarves, or hats. These small amounts of friction can also contribute to hair loss. 

A man blow drying his hair while looking in the mirror

Even common types of hairstyling, like blow-drying, can contribute to hair loss

Medications and hair loss

Sometimes, hair loss is just a side effect of something – like a medical condition or a medication you’re taking. You can’t magically cure heart disease, acne, or any other health problem. However, if a medication for one of these conditions is causing your hair loss, you might be able to switch to a type with fewer side effects. 

Medications associated with hair loss

According to a third study from the journal Dermatologic Clinics, many different medications can cause hair loss. These include:

  • Antiretroviral agents
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Blood thinners
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Contraceptives
  • Medications with retinoids, like acne or psoriasis medications
  • Nutritional supplements that contain large amounts of vitamin A 

What to do if you suspect your medication causes hair loss

Don’t just stop taking your medication – many of these are critically important for your health. It’s best to talk to your doctor if you suspect your medication is at fault for your hair loss symptoms. They can help you rule out other potential causes.

Keep in mind that these drugs and supplements don’t always cause hair loss as a side effect. For example, not all antibiotics or contraceptives cause hair loss. This is a good thing, since your doctor can often just switch you onto an alternative medication. In some cases, simply reducing the medication’s dose is enough to prevent hair loss symptoms from occurring.


There are so many different causes of hair loss. Trying to figure out which one is affecting you can be overwhelming. It’s worth it in the end, though — identifying the cause of your hair loss will help you find the right treatment option.


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