Few things feel worse than brushing your hair and seeing a ton of it left behind in the brush...and on the floor...and stuck to the walls of the shower...and lining the drain of the sink...
1. Your go-to style is murdering your hair
Do you have an intimately close relationship with your flat iron? Or are you devoted to being platinum blonde all year long? Harsh products and styling tools can all be too much, especially if you’re layering treatments and styling on top of already fried hair, says Kingsley. This can cause hair to actually break off. The tell-tale sign of this kind of damage is finding pieces of hair missing the bulb (or root) that aren’t as long as your other strands.
The fix: Now’s the time to learn how to go with the flow... of your more natural hair texture and color, that is. Use a gentler sulfate-free shampoo that cleanses without further drying out your zapped hair with caustic detergent, and lay off the hot tools and tense hairstyles (like high ponytails and tight braids) to help give hair a chance to rehab.
2. You have thyroid issues
Both hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can lead to sudden hair loss that you may also notice in other areas like your eyebrows, according to research published by the International Journal of Trichology. Basically, when your thyroid is out of whack, it can mess with the hormones responsible for hair growth. So hair sheds naturally but is not replaced by new growth, says Kingsley.
The fix: Once you successfully treat the condition (for hypothyroidism, that usually means a hormone replacement and for hyperthyroidism, an anti-thyroid drug called methimazole), hair usually grows back. You can help it along with healthy habits that help power hair growth, including eating enough protein-rich foods like lean chicken, tofu, Greek yogurt, and nuts.
3. Youre really, really freaking stressed
Is work the last place you want to be lately? Did you just go through a breakup? Have you been sick and your body is just out of whack? All of these situations create stress on the body, leading to a condition known as “shock hair loss,” a.k.a. telogen effluvium.
The bad news is this can take anywhere from weeks to several months to stop-the key is the source of stress must be healed-but the good news is that it’ll fix itself once the stress is over, says Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital.
The fix: Whether it’s a daily meditation app, taking up a new hobby, or weekend cocktails, it’s worth finding your inner zen to help chill out. And if you can't address your stress on your own, it might be time to seek out a therapist.
4. You just had a baby...
Thanks to all the hormonal fluctuations, being a new mom is a major time for hair loss, says New York City dermatologist, Marina Peredo, M.D. While you’re pregnant, your estrogen levels skyrocket, leading to a surge in hair growth. But then those levels drop way down a few months after you give birth, forcing more hair than normal to shift into the “resting” rather than the “growth” phase-leading to lots of hair loss.
The fix: The good news is that hair should begin to grow back on its own three to four months after you have your baby.
5. ...Or you have PCOS
Another cause can be polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which screws up your hormone levels and pumps out too much testosterone. Other PCOS symptoms include weight gain, severe acne, skipped periods, trouble conceiving, and excessive body hair.
The fix: If you suspect you have PCOS, you’ll need to see your ob-gyn for treatment. After ruling out other issues (since there isn’t a test for PCOS), they’ll likely prescribe you hormonal birth control to balance out your hormones, along with a diabetes medication called metformin to regulate your insulin. Treatment should help restore your hair.
OMG, none of this applies to me. Help!
Time to see a board-certified dermatologist. They can take a thorough history and exam (including blood work or biopsies) to get to the true root of the problem, says Robinson. It may sound scary, but the truth is that when you know what’s really causing hair loss, your dermatologist can help tailor a treatment that will work right for you.