7 Reasons Your Hair Is Falling Out & What You Can Do About It

We all play with our hair — twirling it, throwing it up in top knots, braiding it for days. And usually everything seems pretty normal. That is, until you accidentally unleash a wad of strands that leaves you wondering if your hair is falling out.  

I mean, how much can fall out before you go totally bald? I often wonder this in the shower as my hair runs down my legs and clogs the drain, or when I take out my ponytail and seemingly every hair with it. I'm constantly wondering how I have any hair left at all (and I'm sure I'm not alone in this). 

And yet, this type of hair loss is considered totally normal. It's fine to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, and even up to 250 strands on the days you wash your hair, according to Tammy Worth on WebMD.com. What's not normal? Waking up with a fur ball on your pillow, or pulling out way too much as you comb. When that starts to happen, then it's OK to freak out.

If you've been noticing more hair fall than normal, then you might want to look into some underlying issues. Here are some bad habits and sneaky conditions that can lead to hair loss worth worrying about, as well as what you can do about it.

1. You Have Thyroid Probs

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There are a helluva lot of people walking around with thyroid disease. In fact, thyroid.org estimates it effects about 20 million people, with women being five to eight times more likely to have it than men. The thing is, about 60 percent of people with the disease don't recognize their symptoms. But when it does rear its ugly head, hair loss is usually one of the signs.

As Winnie Yu noted on Prevention.com, "Thyroid hormone is responsible for everything from your basal metabolic rate — the rate at which your body uses oxygen and energy to function — to the growth of your hair, skin, and nails. But when you don’t have the right amount, you may notice changes in bodily functions." Like more hairs falling out throughout the day. 

Is There Anything I Can Do?

You have to get your thyroid levels back to normal before you'll notice a change in hair growth. As Yu noted, "Your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone medication to restore levels to normal."

2. You Have Telogen Effluvium (Not As Cool As It Sounds)

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I know it sounds like a Harry Potter spell, but telogen effluvium is actually the science-y name for some pretty dramatic hair loss that occurs after extreme stress. I'm talking about balls of hair on your pillow, handfuls coming out in the shower — the whole thing. According to Yu, this happens when a bad bout of stress causes hair to shift faster than normal from its growing phase into a resting phase before moving quickly into the shedding, or telogen, phase. This usually happens about six weeks to three months after a stressful event, such as a major surgery, dramatic weight loss, a pregnancy, or a death in the family. It can also be triggered by some medications, like antidepressants. 

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Get your stress under control, and just wait it out until your hair grows back. According to Yu, "... you may have to bide your time until the hair loss slows. If medication is the culprit, talk to your doctor about lowering your dosage or switching drugs." 

3. You're Styling Your Hair Within An Inch Of Its Life

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We've all pulled our hair into a too-tight ponytail and then dealt with the aftermath of loose hairs. But over time, these loose hairs can add up to some bald patches. That's because tight styles put a lot of stress on the follicle, which can cause something called traction alopecia. As Shannon Marks noted on Livestrong.com "Traction alopecia occurs when too much stress is placed on the hair follicles for extended periods of time. Certain hairstyles, like ponytails, pigtails, cornrows, braids and tight buns are the most common cause of traction alopecia."

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Braids and ponytails may look pretty, but you've got to let your hair flow free — or at least be gentler with your styling. Need a little bit more motivation? Chronic styling can lead to permanent hair loss due to follicle damage, Marks said. So really, give it a rest. 

4. Blame It On Your Family

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To get an idea of how well you'll fair in the hair department, go take a look at your mama. Does she have luscious, flowing locks? Or are her strands hanging on by a thread? If it's the latter, then genetics might be to blame for your hair troubles. 

Your doctor can also pick up on this type of genetic hair loss by taking a look at your scalp. He or she will use a magnifier to look at your hair follicles. If some hairs are thick, while others are thinner, it's usually a sign of female pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, according to Worth. This type of hair loss generally occurs in your 50s or 60s, but can happen as early as your teens. You'll notice hair growing back thinner and thinner each time, until it stops growing altogether. Yikes. 

Is There Anything I Can Do?

You'll want to treat this type of hair loss ASAP, before any permanent damage can occur. Your doctor might prescribe treatments like Rogaine, androgen receptor inhibitors, estrogen and progesterone pills or creams, or oral contraceptives, according to WebMD, in an effort to get hair growing again.

5. Your Hormones Are Going Crazy

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It's not fair, but it seems our lady hormones can get messed up pretty easily. Think pregnancy, going on the pill, switching pill brands, going off the pill, hitting menopause, etc. etc. It's not surprising these hormone fluctuations can affect your hair, and cause it to shed or fall out. It can also lead to the dreaded telogen effluvium, especially if you have a family history of hair loss, said Amanda Gardner on Health.com. 

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Talk with your doctor about your prescriptions, and keep in mind that stopping oral contraceptives can sometimes cause hair loss, but it's temporary, Gardner said.

6. You're Lacking Some Serious Vitamins 

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If you've been crash dieting, following a strict (but not so careful) vegetarian diet, or just plain old forgetting to eat three square meals a day, then you might find yourself with some pretty hefty hair loss. According to Anna Schaefer on Healthline.com, "Zinc and iron deficiency are the most common nutritional links to hair loss. But some evidence indicates that low intakes of fats, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin A, copper, selenium, and biotin could also be to blame."

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Zinc and iron may be the most common links, but to me it seems like every nutrient plays a role in healthy hair. Make sure you're eating a well-balanced diet, and supplement yourself with vitamins if need be. 

7. PCOS Is Wreaking Havoc On Your Bod

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About five million women in the U.S. suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, according to Yu. "The condition, which can begin as early as age 11, is caused by a hormonal imbalance in which the ovaries produce too many male hormones," Yu added. The syndrome can cause all sorts of great things, like irregular periods, cysts on the ovaries, excess facial hair, acne, and (you guessed it), hair loss.

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Usually PCOS is treated with birth control pills that work to block testosterone, Yu said. There's also spironolactone, which blocks male hormones that can cause baldness. 

It's scary to see hair fall out, especially if it's coming out in chunks. When that's the case, look for underlying causes, habits, or conditions. And don't worry too much, as hair loss is usually pretty treatable. 

Images: Pexels (1); Giphy (7)

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