4 Triggers of Hair Loss: Genetic, Autoimmune, Diet, Inflammation
Numerous different factors can trigger hair loss. Yet, most triggers commonly fall into the following four categories: genetics, autoimmune conditions, diet, and inflammation. In some cases (like your genetics), there is not much you can do to avoid hair loss.
However, when it comes to a trigger like your diet, you usually can make changes to minimize or correct hair loss. Knowing what is causing your hair loss can help you take proactive steps to keep as much hair on your head as possible.
Genetics and Hair Loss
Our genetics play a significant role in determining our hair texture, maximum length, amount of hair, color, and thickness. In fact, our DNA is largely responsible for controlling the hair growth cycle. Thus, we often see similar hair growth patterns among family members. Not surprisingly, hair loss can also occur in families.
One of the most common causes of hair loss in both men and women is androgenic alopecia. Also referred to as male- and female-pattern baldness, this type of hair loss is rooted in our genetics and can be seen s a form of hereditary hair loss.
Men with this form of hair loss often experience a receding hairline, balding in the shape of a ‘V,’ or crown thinning. Women with this type of hair loss generally have hair thinning all over the head, and it is most noticeable on the temples and part line. Unlike men, women rarely experience complete hair loss due to androgenic alopecia.
Regrettably, there is little we can do to change our genetics. However, certain behaviors and interactions within our environment can alter the expression of our genes. If you have hair loss and think your genetics may be a trigger, there are steps you can take to minimize your hair loss.
What to do if your genetics are triggering hair loss-
- Early preventative measures are essential when it comes to managing genetic hair loss. If you have family members with hair loss, but you haven’t started losing hair yet, now is the perfect time to implement the right hair care strategies. For example, using a shampoo and conditioner that decreases inflammation and is hydrating for your scalp and hair is beneficial. Similarly, you may want to consider using a sulfate-free shampoo, as sulfates can strip your hair and scalp of your natural oils.
- Focusing on healthy lifestyle habits can ward off hair loss. Try to reduce stress as much as possible and prioritize healthy stress-relieving activities. Additionally, eating a healthful diet can support all of your cells, including the rapidly-dividing cells in your hair.
- Re-growing your hair is tricky if you have androgenic alopecia. However, there are options that not only restore your hair but also prevent further hair loss. Fortunately, newer products do not have unpleasant side effects like itching and irritation that is common with older products. Look for hair re-growth products containing Nanoxidil 5%.
Solutions For Genetic Hair Loss
Autoimmune Disease and Hair Loss
Autoimmune diseases are highly perplexing medical conditions and are often difficult to treat. An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system attacks your own healthy tissues. Essentially, your immune system goes rogue. There are many theories as to why the immune system may act this way.
- Firstly, environmental toxins may accumulate in the body and result in inflammatory processes.
- Secondly, the “leaky gut” theory suggests that toxins from our food leak into our bloodstream from widened tight junctions in intestinal cells.
- Thirdly, there is likely a genetic component to autoimmune disorders, as they tend to run in families and are more common in females.
One of the hallmark symptoms of autoimmune disease is inflammation. Because the immune system is continuously attacking certain tissues, it can lead to inflammation and eventual organ failure.
A prime example of how an autoimmune condition works is Hashimoto’s disease. As the leading cause of hypothyroidism (or underactive thyroid), Hashimoto’s is where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and failure. Thus, the thyroid is no longer able to make thyroid hormone, which plays a pivotal role in regulating our metabolism, growth, and development. Intriguingly, the thyroid also affects hair growth.
Aside from Hashimoto’s, several other autoimmune conditions can lead to hair thinning and loss, including:
- Chron’s disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Alopecia areata
- Graves’ disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What to do if an autoimmune disease is triggering hair loss:
- Start by meeting with your doctor to make sure you have the correct diagnosis and follow your treatment plan. Most autoimmune disorders are not curable, but medication and lifestyle adjustments can make them manageable. If you are still having hair loss while getting treatment, it is helpful to reconnect with your doctor to make sure you are on the right regime. In many cases, you can restore hair loss once you start treatment (such as by taking thyroid medication if you have Hashimoto’s).
- Eat a clean diet to decrease inflammation through your gut. One of the main diets for people with autoimmune diseases is the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). This diet is extremely strict initially, but it can help you identify foods that worsen your autoimmune symptoms (including hair loss).
- Stressors can trigger autoimmune flare-ups, such as bacterial or viral infections and stressful events at work or in your relationships. Try to avoid these triggers to keep your symptoms at bay and to reduce hair loss.
Reduce Fallout Caused By Autoimmune Disease Damage
Diet and Hair Loss
We are learning more and more about the importance of food and our health. As seen with autoimmune diseases, we know that the processing chemicals and agricultural pesticides that prolong shelf life can mess with our overall health.
When it comes to supporting hair health, there are certain nutrients that we must regularly get to grow strong, healthy, vibrant hair. Additionally, people with nutrient deficiencies and eating disorders often experience hair loss. For example, a primary sign of anorexia nervosa and vitamin B12 deficiencies is hair loss.
What to eat for healthy hair-
- Meat (protein and iron)
- Fish (protein and omega-3s)
- Eggs (protein and biotin)
- Berries (antioxidants and vitamins)
- Spinach (folate, iron, vitamins)
- Sweet potatoes (beta-carotene, or vitamin A)
- Legumes (protein)
- Avocados (healthy fats and vitamin E)
- Nuts and seeds (Fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins E and B)
- Oysters and shrimp (zinc)
If you are unsure if your diet is rich enough in healthy nutrients for your hair, try using a hair supplement to meet your daily hair support needs.
For Your Dietary Needs
Inflammation and Hair Loss
As we have seen with autoimmune disorders, we know hair loss is intricately tied to the body's inflammatory processes. Sometimes, inflammation occurs directly in the scalp and hair follicles, which can be a significant cause of hair loss. Other times, scalp inflammation is the result of too much sebum (oil) production or fungal infection.
Several conditions can cause scalp inflammation, including:
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Male- or female-pattern baldness
- Head lice
- Lichen planus
When you really think about it, most causes of hair loss are rooted in some way to inflammation. Inflammation can decrease blood flow to hair follicles, prohibiting your hair from getting the nutrients it needs to grow. It also can affect how much oil your produce.
How to treat hair loss caused by inflammation-
- Firstly, treat the underlying cause of scalp inflammation. Likely, you will need to visit your dermatologist to correctly identify what is causing this problem.
- Secondly, try to reduce any triggers that may increase inflammation on your scalp and even your whole body. For example, avoid hair products that may be irritating and eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Also, make sure to treat other conditions that may cause inflammation in your body.
- Finally, use hair care products that reduce scalp and follicular inflammation. The SPRECTRAL and REVITA product lines at DS Laboratories not only reduce scalp inflammation, but they also provide nourishing ingredients that re-grow your hair.