Losing Your Hair Over This? Causes of Hair Loss
The follicles in our scalp have their own stress response. In times of high stress they go into a resting phase. No new hair grows and shedding occurs. If you are noticing excess hair loss right now, don’t despair. The resting phase is usually about three months once stress levels return to ‘normal’ or we adapt. Let’s go over a few reasons why we lose hair and discuss what you can do to turn it around.
Stress hormones impact our sex hormones. Androgens like DHEA and testosterone are metabolized down two pathways. If your body is pushing the more aggressive alpha pathway, hair loss can result. This is because the results of this pathway are very potent. Hair growth where you don’t want it can also happen. Facial hair growth and cystic acne along the jawline are common in PCOS.
Iron, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Low iron is often the cause of hair loss. Check out the complete resource guide on iron deficiency. Anemia is common in women who are pregnant and breastfeeding due the extra energy output of building a human. Heavy cycles, poor absorption and low intake are as well.
But during pregnancy our bodies actually stop shedding hair. We make up for it once the baby is born. Then there can be significant hair loss that naturally occurs because of hormones. This is not happening because of iron deficiency and usually is self-limiting. If hair loss after birth causes balding, there are likely other causes.
The most common onset of hypothyroidism occurs postpartum. Low thyroid function can result in many symptoms including thinning hair and eyebrows especially the outer third. Lower body temperature, metabolism and weight gain are other symptoms. Assessing thyroid function requires comprehensive testing. I have a self-test available here.
In 85% of women hypothyroidism is caused by autoimmunity. Autoimmunity will present in multiple conditions if it the underlying cause isn’t addressed. Alopacia is also autoimmune causing acute hair loss. Psoriasis and other skin conditions can cause stress at the hair follicles contributing to hair loss. Hypothyroidism usually results in dry skin.
If you are losing your hair then finding out the cause is important. Functional testing can be very empowering. We all have constitutional strengths that we can build on. Knowing how your body responds in times of stress helps you know how to effectively recover.
There are a few foods that can be very nourishing to hair and skin. Collagen is one of my favourites. The other is the fat soluble vitamins found in liver or cod liver oil. Biotin is an excellent nutrient. It can change lab values so please inform your healthcare practitioner if you are taking it.
For stress management, let’s be creative. Talk with a friend regularly, journal, move your body and get enough rest. Reach out to a functional practitioner to get to the root of it. Take an online class. It’s a great time to start a meditation practice or try something new that you have wanted. Make time for what you love to do! Let yourself be nourished.
Use a drop of castor oil to your scalp and eyebrows to stimulate hair growth. Castor oil can also help if there is any fungal overgrowth contributing to symptoms. Rosemary essential oil is also great. Spearmint targets the androgen excess and any mint is stimulating for the follicles. And of course, read the labels of what you use in your shower. Those chemicals cause harm.