why does my hair keep falling out in clumps
It may be concerning, even devastating, to notice clumps of hair falling out as you wash, style or simply run your fingers through your hair. Some daily hair loss is expected -- a normal part of the hair growth cycle, although most people lose only about 100 hairs each day, according to the. Abnormal or excessive hair loss, also called alopecia, can be caused by a variety of conditions or stressors, and this loss may be temporary or permanent. If you have an unusual amount of hair loss, speak with your doctor. If your hair is coming out in clumps, a logical first step is to determine if any of your styling practices are the cause. is a reversible form of hair loss which is linked to repeated pulling, which causes hair breakage and damage to the hair follicle. Wearing wigs, using curling rollers and pulling hair back into tight braids, ponytails or cornrows increases the chance of this type of hair loss. Hair processing agents, such as chemicals that curl, relax or color the hair can make this type of hair loss more likely. In this type of alopecia, when the underlying cause is removed, the hair usually grows back. Hair loss may also be linked to a recent stressor. Telogen effluvium is a condition in which excess shedding of hair occurs a few months after a physically or emotionally stressful event -- pushing proportionately more hair into the telogen, or final resting phase of the hair growth cycle. In this condition, up to
can be lost following a severe illness, surgery, pregnancy, significant weight loss, or stressful event such as a divorce. Usually, within 6 to 9 months, the hair regains its usual fullness. Illnesses, Medications or Disorders A variety of illnesses can also lead to abnormal hair loss. One such condition is, which is characterized by round patches of hair loss. This disorder, which is believed to have an autoimmune cause, may even lead to the complete loss of scalp and body hair. of hair loss include scalp ringworm, inflammatory or autoimmune disorders such as lupus, or hair thinning related to male or female pattern hair loss.
Certain chemotherapy drugs disrupt the anogen, or growing phase of the hair life cycle, causing an abrupt loss of up to 90 percent of body hair, according to an August 2009 review in "American Family Physician. " A psychiatric disorder that causes hair loss is trichotillomania, which is a compulsive need to pull or pluck hair out of the head and other parts of the body. Excessive hair loss may be connected to an underlying health issue, but the loss itself can cause severe psychological distress to those affected. If you are concerned you have an abnormal amount of hair falling out, don't suffer in silence -- talk to your doctor or dermatologist. If the loss of hair is deemed abnormal, and not due to your styling habits, your doctor will want to evaluate your situation to determine both the cause and a management plan. Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD First, let s debunk a few myths: Shampooing, brushing and towel drying your hair aren t making it fall out. People associate these things with hair loss because they see the hair come away. But these aren t the cause, says Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist with the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, Piliang says shampooing less frequently may make things worse. It can lead to dandruff and scalp inflammation, which can exacerbate hair loss, she says. Hats and ponytails also get a bum rap. If a ponytail is worn so tightly it pulls on your eyes, that could damage your hair and lead to breakage, Piliang acknowledges, adding that tight braiding, extensions and weaves which yank on small groups of hair follicles can also cause problems. But generally wearing a ponytail or a hat won t cause hair loss, she says.
Men and women lose their hair for different and interrelated reasons, ranging from genetic factors to a poor diet, says Dr. Adam Friedman, director of dermatologic research at the Montefiore-Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. It s rare for hair loss to be caused by just one thing, he says. To understand these causes, it s helpful to know how your hair works. Similar to the way your skin s cells turn over, your hair is constantly sprouting, growing and falling out. Guys with healthy hair shed between 60 to 80 follicles a day, while women lose roughly 100, Friedman says. When it comes to male- and female-pattern baldness the most common types of hair loss certain hairs grow in shorter and shorter over time, and eventually stop growing back at all. This is usually the result of a genetic sensitivity to hormones in the skin, Friedman says. In men, you see this most in the front and sides of the scalp, he explains. In women, it s more centrally located and diffuse. Friedman says this is a slow process, one that can take years to become apparent. For these people, drugs that block the production of skin hormones or keep hairs from falling out such as minoxidil and finasteride tend to work well, Friedman says. But both are better at stopping hair loss than they are at regrowing hair. If you re bald and want treatment, there s often not much you can do, he says. For this reason, it s imperative that you see a doctor as soon as you notice a problem. Poor nutrition is another potential contributing factor. Friedman says low levels of iron, vitamin D, some B vitamins and zinc have all been linked to hair loss. While typically not the main cause of your thinning mane, nutrient or vitamin deficiencies can make the problem worse, he says. Fixing your diet or taking supplements can help, but it s often just one part of a multifaceted solution.
If clumps come out when you shower or you notice thinning in just a few weeks or months, you re more likely dealing with another common condition called acute telogen effluvium, Piliang says. This rapid hair loss is basically a short-term ramping up of your hair s normal shedding process. Any event that puts a lot of stress on your body like childbirth, surgery or rapid weight loss can result in this alarming, clumpy hair loss, which tends to start a couple months after the event, Piliang says. The shedding can last for six months and may result in your losing up to 70% of your hair. But typically the hair grows back, she explains. There are many more explanations for hair loss, including scalp infections, inflammatory diseases like alopecia areata, or systemic diseases like lupus. Treatments vary widely and may include a combination of oral or topical drugs, light therapy, dietary changes, and stress-reducing interventions. You really need an expert s help to assemble all the puzzle pieces, says Dr. Laurel Schwartz, a dermatologist in private practice at the Philadelphia Institute of Dermatology. If you re experiencing skin irritation, redness, scaling or pain, Schwartz recommends seeing someone ASAP to head off risks like permanent hair loss and scarring. More good advice: Stay away from miracle cures marketed online or in late-night TV infomercials. They re not the answer. Hair loss is such an emotionally charged experience, Schwartz says. And when you re really upset, you re willing to try anything. Time spent experimenting with different over-the-counter or infomercial products is often time (and money) wasted. Your hair can offer a glimpse of what s going on in the rest of the body, Schwartz says. If you notice a problem, discuss it with a doctor to determine the ultimate cause.
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