Between brushing out knots, and scrubbing your locks in the shower, there are plenty of normal reasons your hair is falling out. But as annoying as it is to have to deal with clogged drains or pull out the vacuum whenever you blowout your hair, it's perfectly natural to lose a decent number of strands each day.
"It is normal for the average adult to lose up to 100 hairs per day," Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of LivSo, tells Bustle. It's only when you notice a major change — like clumps falling out, or diffuse thinning on your scalp — that it may be time to see a doctor.
With all the factors that can contribute to hair loss — from health concerns to little bad habits — it can be tricky to figure out why you're losing your hair. So the more info you can provide doctors, the better. "One suggestion is to journal the process, starting with the point at which hair loss was discovered, being careful to note any changes in hair care practices or health issues. Medication and dietary changes are important to note," says Hicks-Graham. As can what you eat, your stress levels, and how you style your hair. But keep in mind that once you talk with your doctor about what the potential issue may be, you can figure out ways to make your strands strong and healthy. Here are a few possible reasons experts say you may be losing more hair than usual.
1. Hair That's Pulled Back Too Tightly
If you style your hair in a way that's tightly pulled back, you may be pulling your hair out by the roots. As Hicks-Graham says, "Pulling of hair into tight styles may affect the hairline and cause thinning of the hair around the edges. Ponytails and braids are often culprits."
2. Too Much Heat When Styling
If you use a super hot styling tool every day, that can damage your hair. "Most of us are guilty of using heat styling tools on a daily basis," Krysta Rojas, owner of Base Salon, tells Bustle. "What really is causing damage to our hair is the temperature we have it on. Sure, it's great to get that perfect curl in a matter of two seconds, but having your tool on anything over 300 degrees is [potentially] causing some serious and irreversible damage."
If you think heat is your problem, the key is to use the tool less often, lower the tool's temperature, or simply apply a heat protectant spray first, Rojas says. These tips should help maintain your hair's health, and keep it from breaking off.
3. Your Purse Or Backpack
While it may sound strange, toting around a bag may cause noticeable changes in your hair's volume, too. "Ever notice that area right behind your neck that has some shorter hair and looks a bit more thinned out? Do you usually carry a bag on your shoulder everyday? Believe it or not, the two are tied," Rojas says. "You may not think much of it, but if your hair is constantly getting caught under your purse strap and you yank it out from under, your hair is going to break right off eventually." So just be aware of this habit, and try not to pull your hair if it does get stuck.
4. Your Mental Health
If you have possible untreated mental health concerns, the stress can take a toll. "Mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression have been determined to inhibit the growth phase of hair and [may] be linked to excessive shedding," psychotherapist Dr. Alicia Hodge, PsyD tells Bustle. "Although anxiety is a not a direct cause of hair loss, it is related to our response to stress in our daily lives." Which is why it's so important to tend to your anxiety — perhaps by speaking to loved ones or seeing a therapist, or trying a few stress-reducing hobbies — before it starts impacting your health.
5. A Hair Pulling Habit
Anxiety can affect your hair's health from the inside. But anxious habits can play a role on the outside, too. "Frequent and persistent unmanaged stress also affects our personal self-care, sleep, and maintenance of hair," says Hodge. "Additionally, individuals with significant stress and anxiety disorders may even develop a compulsive habit of pulling their hair out (called trichotillomania)."
If you have trichotillomania, you might catch yourself sitting at work and pulling out your hair when you're nervous. This can, for obvious reasons, cause your hair to fall out. But speaking to a loved one or seeing a therapist to treat your anxiety can help.
6. A Traumatic Event
If you've been through a traumatic event recently, it could explain why your hair is suddenly falling out. "Any kind of physical or emotional trauma can cause temporary hair loss called telogen effluvium," certified dermatologist and hair transplant/restoration expert Dr. Lisa Rhodes tells Bustle. "It often takes three to six months after the trauma for the hair loss to be visible." At that point, you might notice overall thinning, or your hair falling out in clumps. But don't worry — it will grow back.
7. A Thyroid Disorder
If your hair is falling out in clumps, or seems noticeably thinner, it may be time to see your doctor so they can check for underlying health issues that can cause hair loss.
"Chronic, severely dry skin that is very itchy and accompanied by hair loss, which is sometimes sudden in onset, could signal an under-active thyroid," says top dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, Dr. Joel Schlessinger. Other hormonal changes — such as those caused by pregnancy — or autoimmune diseases can cause hair to thin, too.
8. What You're Eating
Take a quick look at what you eat. Is it well-balanced and chock full of nutritious foods? "Some lifestyle choices and conditions can lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals needed for healthy hair growth," says Rhodes. "For example, iron deficiency [results] in poorly oxygenated hair follicles and scalp, and a disruption in the hair shaft leading to oxygen deficiency and hair loss."
9. A Vegetarian Lifestyle
Similarly, certain lifestyles, like vegetarianism, may lead to nutrient deficiencies, if you aren't careful. "Vegetarians often suffer from low blood iron because meat, especially red meat, is a significant source of iron, so supplementation may be necessary," says Rhodes. "Lack of vitamin B12 can also cause hair loss."
In order to do make sure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs, talk with a doctor or nutritionist. They can help you figure out what might be missing from your diet, and offer ways to help replace it — either through other types of foods, or vitamin supplements — so that you can feel your best and maintain our vegetarian lifestyle.
10. Any Medications You're Taking
Some medications have hair loss as a side effect. As Rhodes says, "Blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol-lowering and even the birth-control medications can create patchy hair loss." So definitely talk with your doctor if it's bothering you. "Patients may need to weigh the drug benefits versus hair loss or speak with their doctor about alternative medications if they have any concerns."
11. Your Environment
Your environment can play a role as well. "Air quality and particularly urban environments with high pollution can cause stress on your scalp and hair, increasing hair loss over time," Bart Zoni, an expert at Theradome, tells Bustle. And if you smoke, you're making the air quality around you that much worse. "First and second hand smoke is also a contributor to hair loss — just as smoking is not healthy for you internally, it can also affect your scalp and hair; causing inflammation [and] contributing to more hair in your brush than you might like."
If your hair is consistently trying to escape down your shower drain, one of these factors may explain why. But all is not lost — in many cases, there are things you can do to keep your hair on your head. Start by talking with your doctor to see what they recommend.