Is Your Hair Loss a Sign of Something Serious?
What does it mean when your hair is falling out? It could be nothing serious at all. Or it could be indicative of a more significant health issue.
Either way – excessive hair loss is stressful.
Your hair is likely a point of personal pride and losing it can hurt.
We understand. We also know that learning about what’s happening is the first step toward effective hair growth treatment.
What causes hair loss? Are there conditions where you lose your hair – and can you do anything to avoid extreme hair loss in women or men?
We’ll provide both answers and accessible avenues for pursuing affordable treatment in this helpful guide.
Can Hair Loss Be a Sign of Something Serious?
Seeing a few strands on your brush is normal. However, if you’re experiencing significant hair loss, it may be time to investigate what’s going on.
We’ll start by defining what type of hair loss to be worried about. Here are some red flags to consider:
- A widening part. Is your part getting wider and wider as the months go by? (If you can, take pictures to demonstrate progression.) That could indicate significant hair loss.
- Bald patches. Check your scalp and use a mirror (or ask a friend) to check the parts of your head you don’t see. Are there sections of your head that are bald or balding?
- Clogged drains. Sometimes, monitoring symptoms happening on our bodies can be challenging. External signs of hair loss – like stopped-up shower drains – can be easier to notice.
- Itching or pain. If you haven’t noticed hair loss but believe your scalp is consistently irritated, it may be time to seek treatment before hair loss happens or progresses. (Or, at the very least, to alleviate your current suffering!)
Also, consider your context.
For example, some hair loss symptoms may be expected with age, with certain conditions, or if your family has a pattern of benign hair loss.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re not expecting hair loss and you experience several of the above symptoms, especially if their onset is sudden, you may want to learn more about what’s happening.
Common Causes of Excessive Hair Loss
So, your hair’s falling out. What condition’s responsible for that?
There are several types of hair loss, or alopecia, to use the technical term. They include:
- Androgenic alopecia, or hereditary hair loss. This type of hair loss happens very gradually and can happen to both men and women. However, while female hereditary hair loss (or female pattern baldness) usually starts with a widening part, male hereditary hair loss (or male pattern baldness) starts above the temples and at the crown of the head.
- Alopecia areata. This type of hair loss stems from an immune system condition that causes your body to attack its own hair follicles. Alopecia areata causes bald patches across the scalp. It can also result in hair loss elsewhere. Patients with alopecia areata may lose their eyebrows and eyelashes, too.
- Telogen effluvium. Sometimes, hair can recede or fall out after significant stress, trauma, or hormonal changes. For example, if you’ve just given birth, had major surgery, or had an acute illness, that can cause sudden hair loss.
- Traction alopecia. This one can surprise people! If you routinely put a great deal of tension on your hair – for example, if you have your hair in a tight high bun much of the time – that can cause hair thinning, a receding hairline, or even a widening part (depending on where the tension is coming from.)
This isn’t an exhaustive list. For example, if you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, your hair may begin to thin, too.
Some medical conditions can influence your hair growth (and loss) patterns.
Common Conditions Where You May Lose Your Hair
Losing your hair in conjunction with a painful or frustrating medical diagnosis can feel like adding insult to injury.
Try to look at it this way: If you know what could be causing your hair loss, it can be easier to work towards reversing your symptoms.
Often, patients with these disorders experience increased rates of hair loss:
Hair loss can also be a secondary symptom of some disorders.
Patients with certain types of cancer may not automatically lose their hair, but hair loss may occur after undergoing chemotherapy, taking drugs for their cancer, or completing radiation treatment.
Similarly, hair loss is a side effect of some medications, including anticoagulants, beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, and oral retinoids.
What Does It Mean When My Hair is Falling Out?
Weathering extreme hair loss in women or men is a lot. Being told that it’s normal isn’t exactly helpful.
After all, hair loss boils down to a relatively easy-to-explain biological pathway.
People start losing hair when their hair follicles – or the scalp structures that make hair – shrink. After shrinking, follicles produce shorter and thinner hair strands.
Eventually, if the follicle has shrunk enough, it won’t produce hair anymore. If this happens to enough follicles, that results in bald spots.
That’s the basic mechanism, but by itself, that isn’t very helpful.
Knowing how your hair is falling out is less interesting (and less important) than figuring out exactly what’s affecting your follicles.
Above, we provided a list of red flags to help you identify whether your hair loss is severe.
Now, we’ll give you specific clues that can lead you to the cause of your hair loss – and a connected action plan.
These clues include:
- Your hair loss is happening in places other than your head. Head hair loss is one thing, but full-body hair loss can indicate larger systemic issues. If you’re losing your eyelashes or the hair on your legs has stopped growing, it may be time to seek medical attention.
- You’re experiencing out-of-nowhere hair loss and you’re suddenly more fatigued. Some conditions, such as anemia or mineral deficiencies, can cause hair loss and extreme tiredness. Fortunately, correcting the mineral deficiency or pursuing effective treatment for anemia can often result in hair regrowth.
- Your hair loss is accompanied by sudden GI issues. If you’ve noticed that your hairline is receding and you start experiencing loss of appetite, nausea, or diarrhea around the same time, that could also be a sign of a mineral deficiency. Making sure your zinc levels are balanced could help. Check with your healthcare provider to see whether you need to supplement with zinc or correct an overabundance.
- You’re losing hair on your head and growing it elsewhere. Unwanted hair loss accompanied by equally unwanted hair growth on other body parts – like your chin or chest – can be highly frustrating. It can also be a sign of female hormonal imbalances or a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). If you’re curious about a PCOS diagnosis or treatment, talk to an OB-GYN about your next steps.
- Your weight is in flux or doesn’t make much sense. If you’ve been trying to gain or lose weight and you have, great. If the number you see when you step on the scale is a surprise, that could be an issue. Some conditions, such as thyroid issues, can cause people to gain or lose weight – and lose hair. Your healthcare provider can order some simple tests to help you test your thyroid and make a treatment plan.
Treating the Underlying Cause: Strategies for Reversing Hair Loss
If you’ve taken steps to identify the reasons for your hair loss, you’ve already done the single most important thing you can do to work towards restoring hair growth.
Hair loss can be the result of many different conditions or circumstances.
Some are serious; some are less so – but treating hair loss with one condition in mind won’t help if your body is weathering another condition entirely.
For example, taking iron pills may not do anything if your hair is falling out because of tremendous stress.
Once you’ve determined a probable cause for your symptoms, it may be time to consider treatments for hair loss. With the approval and guidance of your doctor, you could consider the following strategies:
- Managing your stress or trauma responses. This is easier said than done, but if you’ve linked your hair loss to a tough challenge in your life or a season of stress, it could improve your overall health to invest in your peace of mind. This could include therapy, prescription or natural antidepressants, streamlining your workload, or making self-care a regular part of your routine.
- Optimizing your diet and your nutrient intake. There are some specific nutrients your body needs to grow healthy hair consistently. Eating a well-rounded diet, or supplementing with iron, B vitamins, vitamin C, or vitamin D, may all help.
- Working with your doctor to start treatment for a more serious underlying concern. Perhaps you’ve discovered that your hair loss is a sign of something serious. That can be stressful, but having answers is always a good thing! Whether your doctor has diagnosed you with anemia, PCOS, thyroid disorders, or other conditions that could make consistently-great hair growth a challenge, your best bet is to follow any treatment regimens they recommend (which may include hormonal treatments or prescription medication).
- Exploring specific hair regrowth treatments. If your doctor has ruled out serious causes of hair loss, you’re not going through a stressful chapter of your life, and you’ve been tweaking your diet to no avail, it could be time to consider options like Rogaine for Men or Rogaine for Women. There’s an unfair social stigma associated with these products, but there shouldn’t be. It’s easier – and far more common! – to use these products than you may think.
If you’re looking for alternatives to Rogaine, you do have options. Finasteride, or brand-name Propecia, is a prescription medication that protects hair follicles from hormones that cause them to shrink. Corticosteroid therapy can also help by reducing inflammation around hair follicles.
(Just know that if you start using prescription hair loss medications, it’s common to experience a little more hair loss before the treatment starts providing more sought-after results.)
You can also try newer, even more innovative treatments (such as laser therapy to stimulate hair regrowth and micro-needling).
However, most people will be able to start seeing the results they want if they invest in a healthier diet, less stressful lifestyle, treat their underlying conditions, or start taking prescription hair loss medications.
Consistency is critical – as is making sure your plan for hair regrowth is approved by your healthcare team.
Serious About Treating Your Hair Loss?
For example, you might not want people to know that you're purchasing Rogaine. (We get it; hair loss is sensitive.)
Or, if your pharmacy doesn’t stock what you need, asking when products will be available can feel uncomfortable.
And that doesn’t even touch the subject of cost.
In America, with the skyrocketing cost of prescription medications, getting OTC supplements and prescription-only hair growth treatments can be priced far out of most people’s budgets.
Unless, of course, you can buy medications through an online Canadian drugstore and international pharmacy.
At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we make buying the medications and supplements you need safe, private, and straightforward. You can order your treatments online through our secure payment portal and have your prescription and non-prescription products delivered directly to your front door.
Our seven-day-a-week customer service team is more than happy to address any questions you may have.
If you’re interested in buying your hair loss medications and supplements through NorthWestPharmacy.com, we’re delighted to be able to provide any needed support.
Check out what we have to offer, or call our team at 1-866-539-5330 for timely assistance. We look forward to helping you accomplish your health-related goals.