With clumps of hair in hand and a racing heart, many people ask themselves this question: why am I suddenly losing so much hair?
Normally, you have about 100,000 strands of hair on your head. And you lose some of them every day. According to the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), it’s normal for 30 to 150 strands of hair to fall out in a day.
However, if all of a sudden, you start losing about 200 to 300 strands of hair, something’s definitely not right. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find more and more stray and fallen strands, and there can be more than one reason for that.
Why Am I Suddenly Losing So Much Hair?
Usually, mental and physical stress and autoimmune conditions cause a sudden onset of hair loss in both men and women. However, there can be other reasons for that.
Let’s take a look at all of them in detail.
Telogen effluvium, considered the second most common cause of hair loss after pattern baldness, is a type of temporary hair loss that causes rapid shedding.
This type of hair loss is triggered by a stressful event. When this happens, your hair will suddenly go from the growing (anagen) phase of hair growth to resting (telogen phase).
Keep in mind this stress can be mental or physical. For instance, the following can cause telogen effluvium:
- Rapid weight loss
- Crash dieting
- Illness (fever, infection, diseases)
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy, childbirth, menopause)
- Physical trauma (accident, injury, surgery)
- Major life changes (death, marriage, divorce)
- Poor nutrition (iron, protein, vitamins)
- Seasonal changes
According to the BAD, normally, just 10% of the hair on the scalp is in this phase. However, when you have telogen effluvium, 30% of your hair will enter the resting phase.
Also, keep in mind that hair loss won’t occur right after a stressful event. After 3-6 months, it will start suddenly.
Alopecia areata is another type of hair loss that results in sudden hair loss. It ends up forming circular bald patches on the scalp.
This type of hair loss occurs due to an autoimmune disorder where your immune system essentially backfires and starts attacking healthy tissues in your own body. In the case of alopecia areata, hair follicles are the target.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that it’s not exactly understood why this happens, but research indicates genetic and environmental factors might play a role.
Stress is one factor that is widely believed to trigger this kind of hair loss. Also, alopecia areata is more common in people who suffer from certain health conditions, some of which are:
- Down syndrome
- Thyroid disorder
- Lichen planus
- Hay fever
Hair loss of this type can happen to either men or women from any ethnic background and at any age.
Sudden hair loss can also occur due to certain health conditions. These can include the following:
- Fungal infections (ringworm or tinea capitis)
- Sexually transmitted infection (HIV, syphilis, etc.)
- Bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, etc.)
- Autoimmune diseases (lupus, psoriasis, Graves’, Hashimoto’s, etc.)
- Skin conditions (seborrheic dermatitis, infections, etc.)
These conditions can cause sudden hair loss in different ways. For instance, Graves’ disease can cause hair loss by attacking the healthy hair follicles since it’s autoimmune.
Another way in which this disease can cause hair loss is by causing telogen effluvium. Even the medications used for Graves’ disease treatment can cause hair loss as a side effect.
That is why, if you’re suffering from any of these conditions, make sure to consult a professional.
Medication, Therapies & Supplements
Some people experience sudden hair loss while they’re getting treatment for some health problem. As far as medications are concerned, the following can cause this type of hair:
Again, there are different ways in which these drugs end up causing hair loss. Some of them cause hair loss because they temporarily shock the system.
There are other drugs, like the ones used in chemotherapy, that cause hair loss by attacking the rapidly dividing cells in the hair roots (assuming them to be cancerous).
And in the case of some other drugs, it’s not exactly understood what causes hair loss.
Therefore, it’s important to consult your doctor when seeking treatment for this drug-induced hair loss.
Other than medications, sudden hair loss can also occur due to radiotherapy (in the area being irradiated) because the healthy cells are also being affected by the treatment.
And lastly, supplements can also cause sudden hair loss. For example, vitamin A toxicity has been reported to cause hair loss. So, you should be careful about taking supplements.
Keep in mind that supplements won’t help you with hair loss if you don’t have a nutritional deficiency.
Will My Hair Grow Back?
Sudden hair loss caused by telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, health conditions, medications and supplements is usually temporary. So, it should start to grow back after a few months.
However, in case you have an underlying problem, first, that needs to be addressed. That’s why it’s important to get an answer to why am I suddenly losing so much hair.
Or if your hair loss is drug-induced, you would have to stop taking that drug (only when your doctor says so) and switch to another for the hair loss to stop. With that, your hair should start to grow back on its own in some time.
Your doctor may also recommend the use of minoxidil to help the hair growth cycle. If it’s a nutritional deficiency, you may be advised to take some supplements. PRP injections are also quite popular in rejuvenating hair growth.
How To Take Care Of Your Hair While It’s Growing?
Be careful not to aggravate your problem while your hair is growing back. For that, you can consider doing the following:
- Eat foods that support your hair growth (eggs, fish, fruits, etc.)
- Don’t use hair styling tools excessively.
- Don’t tie your hair too tightly.
- Keep your scalp and hair clean.
- Look for ways to reduce stress.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle (no smoking, junk food, too much sugar, and sleep deprivation).
All these things will make sure that your recovery is on track.
Why am I suddenly losing so much hair? It could be because of any of the factors mentioned above. And you shouldn’t try pinpointing the cause yourself, make sure to get in touch with a professional.
Fortunately, though, sudden hair loss is usually temporary, so you don’t have to worry about losing your hair forever.
But depending on the cause of the problem, your doctor might give you some medications, recommend therapies, or simply ask you to wait as the hair grows back on its own.