Common Causes of Hair Shedding in Women

By Qhemet Biologics

If you suffer from excessive hair shedding, you're not alone. Over 30 million American women will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetimes, including 50% of Black women. And although many people turn to natural treatments to combat this, some causes of shedding are medically induced and can't be mitigated through the use of herbal treatments alone. Check out some of the most common health related conditions associated with hair loss and shedding below.


Scalp Conditions

Poor scalp health can lead to or worsen hair shedding in many people. The following are some of the most common scalp conditions related to this.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is a frequent cause of hair loss among black women. It's caused by hair follicle inflammation, which occurs when the hair is pulled too tightly for too long such as when it's combed and brushed too roughly or when it's styled in tight cornrows or braids. This causes the hair, especially along the hairline, to break off. Tightly coiled hair is naturally more fragile and prone to breakage due to the lack of a sebum coating along the length of its strands so extra care is needed to keep it strong and resilient. To avoid experiencing traction alopecia, drench the hair in a slippery conditioner like our Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee before combing and always comb using a wide tooth comb starting from the bottom up. Follow up by applying a rich, porosity appropriate moisturizer like our Amla & Olive Heavy Cream or Burdock Root Butter Cream to your hair to keep it soft and supple and prevent brittleness and breakage. To heal damaged follicles and boost growth, use either our Tea Tree & Lavender Therapeutic Pomade or our Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. It causes the immune system to attack healthy hair follicles because it mistakes them for foreign invaders. This, in turn, leads to hair falling out in small patches initially that can progress to larger patches across the scalp. This condition is most common for ages 35-50 and can result in total hair loss. This type of alopecia can also be genetic. For most people, alopecia areata is not a permanent condition. Once they're able to address their overactive immune system and quell the follicle inflammation, their hair can grow back.

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition. Like other types of psoriasis, it increases skin cell turnover rates that causes the skin to pile up into what are known as plaques. If you have bright red patches on your scalp that also have a silvery sheen, you are likely dealing with scalp psoriasis. In dark skinned people, scalp psoriasis lesions can appear violet or dark purple and appear as areas of darker, thicker skin. This condition can lead to hair loss, itching and bleeding if it is not treated. For mild cases, try our Tea Tree & Lavender Therapeutic Pomade. 

Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can make hair and scalp health worse and exacerbate hair loss. If you're dealing with any of these nutrient deficiencies, your hair shedding might accelerate:

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency can result in excessive shedding and thinning for many people. It is estimated that 53%-76% of Black Americans have a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D stimulates the hair follicles to grow, so when the body is lacking in this essential nutrient, the hair may be affected. Vitamin D plays an important role in a healthy immune system, so a deficiency in it may also make people more prone to autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata. Research shows that women aged 18-45 who experienced alopecia and other forms of hair loss were more likely to have low vitamin D levels than those who did not experience hair loss. Vitamin D deficiency can be resolved through sunlight exposure and Vitamin D supplements.

Iron Deficiency

Nearly 20% of Black and Hispanic women in the US have iron deficiency anemia. Many Black women of child bearing age have uterine fibroids which can lead to an iron deficiency. Iron is necessary for healthy blood cells. It also keeps the hair healthy and strong. If your iron levels are being depleted and you aren't consuming enough through your diet to replace what you lose, you may notice your hair starting to thin and fall out more. You may also develop brittle nails or find that your skin has become pale or taken on a yellowish tint. If you suspect that you're iron deficient, it's a good idea to get your iron levels checked, especially if you have heavy periods.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations can contribute to all kinds of symptoms, including hair loss. The most extreme hormonal changes tend to take place during and after pregnancy, as well as during menopause:

Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, your hair actually may appear thicker and fuller. This is because certain hormones prevent and minimize hair loss. When you give birth, though, more hormonal changes occur, and the extra hair you've retained will start to fall out. Many people notice significant hair thinning and loss after giving birth, but things tend to balance out after about 3-6 months.

Menopause

You may be more prone to hair loss when you start going through menopause, too. As hormone levels shift, hair shedding can increase. It typically subsides after about 6 months, though.

Our Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade may help jump start hair growth after pregnancy or menopause related shedding.

Health Conditions

Hair shedding is a symptom of several different health conditions, including the following:

PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (or PCOS for short) occurs when the ovaries become enlarged and cysts develop on the outside of them. This condition causes your body to produce excess androgens. This, in turn, may result in extra hair growth on your face and body as well as increased hair thinning on your head. In addition to hair thinning, PCOS can also be accompanied by weight gain, acne, and trouble ovulating and getting pregnant.

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the neck and produces hormones that keep your metabolism functioning properly. When your thyroid is underactive (this is a condition known as hypothyroidism), it can slow down the hair growth cycle and cause your hair to become thinner. If your hair thinning and loss are caused by hypothyroidism, you'll likely experience other symptoms like weight gain or increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.

Diabetes

People with diabetes are more likely to develop alopecia areata. The stress of living with this condition may contribute to hair loss, too, and it can interrupt the hair growth process. As a result, it may take longer for hair to grow back after it has fallen out. Approximately 11.4% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.

Lupus

Black American women are disproportionately affected by lupus. People with lupus can experience significant symptoms, such as pain, extreme fatigue, hair loss, cognitive issues, and physical impairments that affect every facet of their lives. Lupus causes hair loss by increasing inflammation around the hair follicles. Lupus may also cause lesions on the scalp, damaging the follicles and interfering with normal hair growth patterns.

COVID-19

Research shows that COVID-19 may lead to long-term hair loss. One study revealed that 32 percent of COVID-19 patients experienced hair loss after recovering from the virus. Another one following hospitalized patients showed that 22 percent were still losing hair 6 months after being discharged. Hair shedding is common after major health events, anytime you have a shock to your system, it can push the hair growth phase into the shedding phase.

Medications

Finally, many medications list hair shedding as a side effect, especially prescription drugs used to treat arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems and high blood pressure. If you're dealing with excessive hair loss, the following medications may be the cause.

High Blood Pressure

Many beta-blocker blood pressure medications are associated with hair loss, including the following:

  • Metoprolol (brand name Lopressor)

  • Timolol (brand name Blocadren)

  • Propranolol (brand name Inderal or Inderal LA)

  • Atenolol (brand name Tenormin)

  • Nadolol (brand name Corgard)

ACE inhibitors, including these, cause the hair to thin, too:

  • Enalapril (brand name Vasotec)

  • Lisinopril (brand name Prinivil or Zestril)

  • Captopril (brand name Capoten)

Oral Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives (also known as birth control pills or just "the pill") can cause hair thinning and hair loss in some people. This is because oral contraceptives suppress hormones that cause ovulation, and these same hormones also contribute to hair growth. Birth control pills cause the hair to move from the growing phase to the resting phase too soon and for too long. This form of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Large amounts of hair can fall out during this process. Those who have a family history of hair loss are more likely to experience this when taking birth control pills.

Anti-Inflammatory Steroids

Anti-inflammatory steroids (such as Prednisone) can cause hair loss during the telogen, or resting, phase. Some people also experience hair loss after they stop taking steroid medications. If someone's hair loss is caused by an inflammatory condition, such as an autoimmune disease, steroids may help to reduce symptoms and improve hair thickness.

Diet Pills

Crash dieting and rapid weight loss can cause hair thinning and excessive shedding. This has to do, in part, with nutrient depletion and malnutrition, which can occur when you aren't consuming enough calories and nutrients. If you lose a lot of weight very quickly with diet pills like phentermine, you may also be more susceptible to hair thinning and hair loss.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, a common cancer treatment, often causes hair loss. These drugs are designed to destroy the fast-growing cancer cells in your body, but they also attack and destroy other cells that grow quickly, like the roots of your hair. Regrowth typically occurs after treatments have ended. Generally, cancer treatment-related hair loss is not permanent. Once the treatment is over, the hair begins to grow back.

Combating Hair Shedding

As you can see, many health related conditions can trigger hair loss and shedding, from vitamin deficiencies and hormonal imbalances to blood pressure medications. Many of the natural ingredients in Qhemet products possess potent anti-inflammatory, healing, analgesic and anti-microbial properties that have been used for centuries to mitigate hair loss and boost growth. But if your hair shedding hasn't been helped through the use of better styling techniques and plant-based topicals, it may be time to consult with a qualified health care professional.


Shop This Post

Shop our 100% vegan, mineral oil-free and lanolin-free herbal scalp treatments below to help heal damaged and inflammed scalp conditions, strengthen follicles, combat shedding and jump start healhy hair growth!