Losing hair can be concerning, stressful, and even downright frightening. It can also signal that there is another health issue occurring in the body. There are many different types of hair loss and many different causes of hair loss as well. In this article, we will discuss common causes of hair loss, how to prevent hair loss, what shampoo is good for hair loss and what hair products to avoid.
If you're experiencing hair loss, it is recommended to consult with your doctor to adress any concerns. There are many different causes of hair loss, and consulting with your doctor can help you find the best diagnosis and treatment for you.
What Is Hair Loss?
Hair loss, also called alopecia, is a disorder caused by a disruption in the body’s hair production cycle. Hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, but it most commonly affects the scalp. It can also be temporary or permanent.
On average, individuals lose about 50 to 100 hairs per day. This is completely natural, and while you are losing some hair, this is not considered to be real hair loss, as it is a natural part of the hair growth cycle. To better understand hair loss, it is helpful to understand the natural cycle of hair growth.
The scalp has, on average, about 100,000 hairs. Your hair grows from the tiny hair follicles on your skin and scalp and is continuously growing and shedding. There are three phases to the hair growth cycle:
- The anagen phase, or the phase of active hair growth.
- The catagen phase, the transitional phase when hair follicles become smaller.
- The telogen phase, the resting phase when hair growth ceases.
Following the telogen phase, the hair follicle releases the hair and the hair falls out, starting over again at the angen phase. (1)
So, hair is always going through this cycle, and losing some hair is natural. Real, clinical hair loss (alopecia) is characterized by the rapid loss of large amounts of hair and is very different from the average hair loss that occurs as a part of the hair growth cycle.
Types of Hair Loss
There are actually many different types of hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss, affecting more than 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. (2). Androgenetic alopecia is commonly called “male pattern hair loss” or “female pattern hair loss” and is a hereditary condition that usually progresses with age. It can, however, be managed with therapeutic shampoos, medication, or surgery.
In both cases of male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss, hair loss can begin any time after puberty and progress over the course of years or decades. For men, it usually begins above the temples and continues around the perimeter and top of the head—resulting in the “hair cul-de-sac” that is so common among older men. Most men with male pattern hair loss eventually become bald.
For women, the hair slowly thins across the scalp but the hairline typically does not recede. This is commonly experienced as a natural part of aging, and while it often causes dramatic hair thinning, it rarely results in baldness.
Other types of hair loss include:
- Telogen effluvium
- Anagen effluvium
- Alopecia areata
- Tinea capitis
- Cicatricial alopecia
- Lichen planopilaris
- Discoid lupis erythematosus
- Folliculitis decalvans
- Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp
- Frontal fibrosing alopecia
- Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia
In addition to these types of hair loss, some hair health habits can also contribute to hair loss. Wearing tight ponytails or braids, for example, can pull hair away from the head with enough force to damage hair strands and cause them to fall out. Over time, these hairstyles can affect hair health and may lead to hair loss. Trichotillomania is another cause of hair loss, which is a condition in which pull their hair out and find it difficult to stop.
Autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammation can affect normal physiological functions and result in hair loss as well. Nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, physical or psychological stress, or illness can also cause shock to the body and trigger rapid hair loss (telogen effluvium), but this is usually temporary and rarely results in baldness. (3)
If you are experiencing any type of major hair loss or are concerned about hair loss, it is recommended to consult with your doctor.
What Are the Symptoms of Hair Loss?
Symptoms of hair loss can vary depending on the underlying cause of the hair loss. In some cases, hair loss occurs suddenly, while in others hair loss is more gradual. It can also affect just your scalp or your entire body. Signs and symptoms of hair loss may include:
- Gradual thinning of hair on the top of the head
- Sudden loosening of hair or hair that easily falls out
- Patchy bald spots develop on the scalp.
- Full-body hair loss.
- Patches of scaling that spread on the scalp (a sign of ringworm).
What Causes Hair Loss?
While hair loss can have many different causes, it is typically related to one or more of the following factors:
- Family history
- Hormonal changes
- Medical conditions
- Radiation therapy
- A stressful event
- Certain hairstyles
- Certain hair products or treatments
How to Prevent Hair Loss
Not all cases of hair loss can be prevented. For example, androgenetic alopecia (male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness) is the most common type of hair loss. This type of hair loss is not preventable, but it can be managed with certain therapies.
For types of hair loss that are preventable, these tips may help prevent hair loss:
- Avoid hair products and treatments with harmful ingredients in them.
- Be gentle with your hair and avoid tugging when brushing.
- Limit the tension on your hair from hairstyles that use rubber bands, barrettes and braids.
- Ensure you are meeting your body’s nutritional needs and avoiding deficiencies of any kind.
- Find healthy ways to reduce and manage your stress.
- Ask your doctor about medications or supplements you take that might contribute to hair loss.
- Nourish your scalp microbiome with a scalp microbiome shampoo
Best Shampoo for Hair Loss
Your scalp is covered with trillions of microscopic bacteria. Just as the community of bacteria in your gut microbiome plays a key role in the health and function of your gut, scientists are now learning that the community of bacteria in your scalp microbiome plays a major role in the health and function of your hair.
For this reason, many believe that a scalp microbiome shampoo is the best natural shampoo for hair loss. While it cannot prevent the non-preventable forms of hair loss like male or female pattern hair loss, it may holistically strengthen hair and scalp health and prevent other preventable forms of hair loss. Research suggests that protecting the scalp microbiome may in fact play a role in preventing or managing androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss), but there is still more research needed to confirm this. (4)
Among all of the shampoo products available today, a scalp microbiome shampoo is likely to be the best hair loss shampoo for men and the best hair loss shampoo for women, simply because improving scalp microbiome health can strengthen the hair and scalp, which may reduce the risk that hair will fall out.
However, research on the scalp microbiome is fairly new, so there aren't many available. Some scalp microbiome shampoos available today also still use harmful ingredients in their products that could actually damage hair and increase the potential for hair loss. So, finding an organic shampoo for hair loss that is non-toxic and focuses on scalp microbiome health can be challenging. It cannot be overstated how damaging some chemical hair products are to your hair and scalp. To learn more about the most toxic ingredients in hair care products, read this article.
Zuma Nutrition’s Scalp Microbiome Shampoo
We use hypoallergenic soap nut and spring water as the base of our formulas, then add in antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory herbal extracts, antioxidant and vitamin-rich fruit extracts, organic essential oils and several strains of beneficial probiotics and enzymes produced through a natural fermentation process. We are proud to offer this unique, non-toxic shampoo and conditioner for those seeking more clean, organic, and non-toxic hair care products.
Seeing a Doctor About Hair Loss
If you are experiencing persistent hair loss, it is recommended to consult with your doctor for the best method of treatment. It is also recommended to talk to your doctor if you notice sudden or patchy hair loss or more than usual hair loss when combing or washing your hair. Sudden hair loss can signal an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.