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Understanding Hair Loss and the Science Behind It
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Understanding Hair Loss and the Science Behind It

By Kimberly Vaughn, Advanced Trichologist, Hair Loss Coach and Certified Nutritional Coach

How do you go about understanding hair loss? What causes hair loss? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is complicated. There are a number of possible causes, and it can take some detective work to determine the source of your particular case.

While there are about 18 documented causes, there are five that are most common. Chances are, your hair loss falls into one of these categories. At the very least, these are where you should start in determining why your hair is thinning:

1• Genetics. Just like male pattern baldness, genetics can be the cause of hair loss in women as well. It usually involves thinning of the front hairline, temples, or all the way to the crown of the head. This cause needs to be ruled out through a DNA test or TrichoTest™.

2 • Autoimmune Disorders. In an autoimmune disorder, the body mistakenly identifies your own hair follicle cells as foreign agents and attacks them in a misguided effort to protect you. In this case, the hair loss may appear across the scalp, as well as the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard. If you start to see balding areas, a significant amount of hair loss in the shower, or thinning of the edges of your eyebrows, an autoimmune disease may be the culprit.

There are a number of autoimmune disorders, but Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of the most common, as thyroid issues are frequently the reason for hair loss. The best way to determine if this is the case is to be tested for autoimmune antibodies and thyroid markers. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t test for all thyroid markers, so you need to specifically request a full set of these blood tests. If doctors determine that an autoimmune disorder is causing your hair loss, they may recommend dietary and gut health changes, nutritional supplements, and/or prescribe medications.

3 • Scalp Conditions. Diseases like eczema and psoriasis can lead to hair loss. If you have noticed your hair thinning, examine your scalp carefully, and visit a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis. Bear in mind, too, that psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, and people with one of these disorders often develop more of them over time, especially if doctors don’t treat them. Therefore, it’s important to treat scalp conditions early.

4 • Underlying Health Conditions. To determine if an underlying condition is causing your hair loss, you need to undergo a full set of laboratory tests. Most of us neglect these to our detriment. We need to stay on top of these numbers to determine if we have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. As I mentioned in number 2, this includes a full workup of thyroid markers.

Other deficiencies to specifically note include iron, ferritin, and vitamin D. All of these particularly play a critical role in hair growth and the health of your hair follicles. Note that your levels of these nutrients should be in the optimal range or at least in the high normal range. If they’re in the low or mid-normal range, you may not have enough of these nutrients to prevent your hair loss. If your vitamin D level is especially low, you may need an IV infusion or a prescription-strength supplement for a few weeks before starting a maintenance dose.

Please don’t supplement these on your own, however. A medical practitioner should test your levels and direct you to make sure you take the proper dosage. It’s also important to check your nutrient levels regularly, preferably on an annual basis.

5 • Traction Alopecia. This condition results from (1) frequent twirling, picking, and pulling of the hair, eyebrows, and/or eyelashes cause this condition. Frequent repetitive behaviors can also cause this form of alopecia; or (2) tight ponytails, braids, or weaves put tension and strain on the hair strands and follicles. Over time, the hair follicle can lose enough strength that it actually dies. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the problem early before it’s too late.

Doctors can often treat and improve hair loss, but they must pinpoint the cause first. If you are losing hair, pay close attention to your symptoms, and get the medical help you need to determine the source and receive proper treatment.

If you are experiencing any of the causes listed above or are concerned about your hair, contact HPIHair today to meet with a Trichologist., 615-662-8722 or

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