Over the course of a person's life, hair texture and thickness often change. Even if you know this, it might not make it easier if it seems like your hair is getting thinner every day.
If your hair is getting thinner or falling out, you might want to know why. Is hair loss caused by stress, genes, or something else? The answer to all three is "yes." Here is some information about different types of hair loss:
Hair Loss Is Normal
Each hair has a natural life span, after which it falls out on its own. In fact, we all lose about 100 hairs a day,2 out of the 100,000 hairs on the average scalp. This is because of a few things:
Aging: Men and women both start losing their hair after 30 (and often before), but men tend to lose their hair faster.
Lifespan: A single hair lives for about 4.5 years on average. When it falls out, a new hair grows in about 6 months.
Styling: Shampooing, blow-drying, and brushing hair can all make a few hairs fall out, and most of us do these things often.
Loss of hair due to genes
Many people think that genetic hair loss is caused by too much hair falling out, but this isn't true. Instead, it's caused by not enough hair growing back to replace the hairs that have been lost. But the end result is always the same: receding hairlines and bald spots in the same places. Several things are linked to hereditary baldness:
Age: By age 30, one in four men is balding, and by age 60, two in three men are balding or bald.
Gender: Men are much more likely than women to have hereditary or "pattern" baldness.
Hormones: Pattern baldness is linked to testosterone;3 as women age, those who have more of it in their bodies tend to lose more hair (or, more technically, not grow it back). This is another reason why men are more likely to get pattern baldness.
How stress can make you lose your hair
You may have heard that stress can make you lose your hair, which is true. The first two causes of hair loss are caused by genes, but stress-related hair loss is caused by the environment and may be easier to stop if the stress can be managed.
Too much physical or emotional stress, like that caused by an injury, illness, or surgery, can cause one of two types of hair loss:
Alopecia areata: White blood cells attack the hair follicles in this type of hair loss caused by stress. With this type of hair loss, the hair also falls out within a few weeks (usually in patches), but it can affect the entire scalp and even body hair. Hair might grow back on its own, but you might also need to treat it. Telogen effluvium is a more common and less severe type of hair loss. In this case, the hair stops growing and goes into a resting phase for 2 or 3 months before falling out. Then, in 6 to 9 months, it grows back. Over the course of a person's life, hair texture and thickness often change.
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