Thinning Hair, Don’t Despair! 5 Medical Reasons Explained

Thinning hair and hair loss


Are you noticing more hair in the shower drain or on your brush? It’s not easy to accept that your once luscious locks are thinning or coming out by the handful. Seeing more of your scalp showing in the mirror can be heart-wrenching too. It’s especially discouraging when everyday treatments, like shampoos, conditioners, and other so-called hair loss remedies, don’t seem to be effective.

Before panicking, know that you lose hair every day. The normal rate of hair loss is 50 to 100 hairs daily. But what if you are losing more? If that’s the case, you’ll need to rule out health-related causes for thinning hair. Here are five medical reasons for thinning hair.

Hormonal Disruptions

Hormonal imbalances not only affect your well-being and overall health; they also trigger hair loss. Thyroid conditions, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and menopause are common conditions that can disrupt your hair’s natural growth cycle and manifest as hair loss.

For example, your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism and how much energy your body produces, so it’s not surprising that an underactive thyroid can trigger hair loss or thinning. When you go through menopause, your estrogen level drops and that can cause your hair to thin out. When you have PCOS, your ovaries produce more androgens, male hormones, that make hair loss an issue for some.

What should you do to rule hormonal issues out as a reason you’re losing your hair? First, see your doctor. They can run tests to check your hormones and see if a hormonal balance is to blame. If so, they can recommend treatments to help restore balance and restore the full, healthy head of hair you once had. Don’t let hair loss zap your confidence. Find out why your hair is thinning.

Nutrient Shortfalls

How’s your diet? It matters for the health of your hair. If you’re deficient in key nutrients, including riboflavin (a type of B-vitamin) biotin (another B-vitamin), or niacin (yet another B-vitamin) you might notice your hair is more fragile or brittle or that you’re losing more than one hundred strands per day. Iron deficiency is another common cause of hair loss. You’re more susceptible to iron deficiency before menopause, as menstrual periods accelerate iron loss. If you suspect you’re not getting enough of these nutrients, talk to your physician or dietitian about correcting the problem.

In some cases, taking multivitamins to supply a full range of vitamins and minerals can help with hair loss. But also, be mindful of your diet. Restrictive diets or diets too low in calories or protein can cause excessive hair thinning or loss. Keep a diet journal or work with a dietitian to ensure you’re getting a balanced array of vitamins and minerals. Keep a diet journal too. Remember, your hair reflects your overall health, so taking care of your body is the first step to having a healthy head of hair.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are conditions where your immune system attacks healthy tissue. There’s a specific autoimmune condition that attacks hair follicles and causes hair to fall out. It’s called alopecia areata. It’s also the second most common cause of baldness, after genetic baldness. Factors that increase your risk for developing it are genetics, stress, and having other autoimmune conditions. Unlike other causes of hair thinning and loss, people with alopecia areata develop bald patches (often round) on their scalp. It can also cause eyebrows, eyelashes, and even body hair to thin out.

If you have hair loss and other symptoms that suggest an autoimmune disease, consult your doctor for a diagnosis. There are a number of treatments that can help. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet, as nutritional deficiencies, including the ones listed above, and vitamin D may play a role.


It’s not just health conditions that can cause hair loss. Medications you take for other conditions have the frustrating side effect of hair loss. It can be devastating to experience sudden and drastic changes to your appearance, especially when it’s caused by a medication you’re taking.

If you start taking a new medication and notice hair loss, it could be that the medication is affecting your hair growth and shedding cycle. So, tell your doctor right away. Together, you can explore other options that are less likely to thin out your hair.

Scalp Disorders

Certain scalp conditions show up as red, itchy, or flaky skin on the head, but they can also make your hair thin or fall out in patches. Psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and fungal infections are all common scalp conditions that can cause these signs. The first sign of problems may be an itchy scalp, either in certain spots or involving your entire scalp. Once you know the cause, they can give you a personalized treatment plan that will help restore a healthy scalp, so you can regrow hair in areas where it’s missing.


Stress can cause all kinds of problems and a particularly annoying one is hair loss. Both physical and mental stress can interrupt the natural growth cycle of your hair and cause it to become thinner or fall out. While stress isn’t a completely “fixable” problem, there are ways to manage it. You might find that exercise, meditation, or cognitive therapy helps you better manage stressful circumstances that affect your hair and scalp. It can take time for things to stabilize though and halt the cycle of hair loss. For most people, everyday low-grade stress isn’t enough to affect your hair and scalp. However major stressors, like a physical illness or the death of a family member, can. In these cases, hair loss may be delayed until several months after the stressful event.

If None of the Above Apply

If you’re having hair loss and it’s not due to any of the above conditions, you may have androgenetic alopecia, a genetic cause of hair thinning and hair loss. The way it appears differs too. You would notice your hairline receding or hair at the crown of your scalp thinning down or thinning where your part your hair. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments that can help with this.

Find Out the Cause of Your Hair Loss

Don’t ignore hair loss or thinning hair. It could be more than a cosmetic problem and, in fact, it may be a symptom of an underlying heath problem. Finding the root cause is key. By exploring the five potential causes – hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, medications, and scalp disorders – you can find answers and more effective treatments. Your doctor can rule out a medical reason for your hair loss and recommend the best course of action to get your hair and confidence back on track.


  • Hair loss – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published 2022. Accessed February 20, 2023. mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hair-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20372926
  • Hair loss: Who gets and causes. Aad.org. Published 2019. Accessed February 20, 2023..aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes
  • “What is alopecia areata? – Mayo Clinic Press.” 14 Mar. 2024, https://mcpress.mayoclinic.org/living-well/what-is-alopecia-areata/.
  • “Alopecia Areata: Hair Loss Causes, Treatment, and More – Healthline.” https://www.healthline.com/health/alopecia-areata.
  • “Vitamins, minerals, and hair loss: Is there a connection?.” 22 Apr. 2024, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/vitamins-minerals-and-hair-loss-is-there-a-connection.
  • “How stress causes hair loss | National Institute on Aging.” 13 Apr. 2021, https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/how-stress-causes-hair-loss.

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