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What Causes Sudden Hair Loss? 8 Possible Causes

It's common (and even normal in some cases) for people to lose hair, but it can be pretty scary when it happens suddenly. Strands constantly clogging up your shower drain and patchy hair loss that's impossible to hide can dent your confidence and even trigger mental health issues.

Keep reading for possible causes of your hair loss woes. Plus, find out what products you can use to encourage thicker looking hair.

What Does Sudden Hair Loss Mean?

Generally, most people lose an average of about 50 to 100 hairs per day. However, if you notice more hair loss than the average on your comb, pillow or in the shower drain, then it could be considered sudden hair loss.

Everyone's hair goes through a stage of growth that lasts about five to seven years. It then lays dormant for a while and, eventually, falls out. However, not every hair on your head runs on the same cycle (or we'd all struggle with complete baldness every few years).

Losing up to 100 hairs a day might sound like a lot, but if you compare that to the number of hair follicles you have on your head (approximately between 100,000 and 150,000), you gain perspective. And with normal hair shedding, the loss isn't permanent. Instead, each lost hair is replaced by a new hair shaft.

A hair wellness routine can help keep your hair cycle moving as it should. VEGAMOUR has a range of safe and effective plant-based formulas developed with scientifically proven ingredients. Our bestselling GRO Hair Serum contains a unique combination of phyto-active, clinically-tested and vegan ingredients that revitalize hair from the roots to support a healthy follicle ecosystem, which sets the stage for visibly thicker, fuller looking hair.

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If you're concerned about excessive shedding or you've noticed unusual types of hair loss, always seek advice from a doctor who can diagnose your condition.

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Types of Sudden Hair Loss

Philadelphia-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Erum Ilyas told VEGAMOUR, "There are two types of hair loss that patients describe as 'sudden,' and they're usually alopecia areata and telogen effluvium. Even though alopecia areata and telogen effluvium provide slight variations on the concept of sudden hair loss, they can often be distinguished from other types of hair loss based on symptoms and speed."

Here's more about these causes of sudden hair loss:

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that can trigger long-term, patchy hair loss and hair shedding. Alopecia is the medical term for balding, and alopecia areata is when the body attacks hair follicles anywhere on the body. Those who live with this cause of hair loss are often in good health, and it can develop at any age.

"Alopecia areata is 'sudden' for the simple fact that patients rarely describe a prelude to the hair loss or a specific event that triggered it to occur," explained Ilyas. "Alopecia areata is most often recognized as hair loss in patches or circles. Often patients will comment that there were little to no symptoms that made them aware the loss of hair was about to occur. Distinct bald spots are noticed either directly by the patient, a family member or a hairdresser. It can be shocking to patients simply because they had no idea the hair was missing."

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Telogen Effluvium

"Telogen effluvium is a type of stress-induced hair loss," said Ilyas. "Rapid shedding starts to occur about three to six months after a stressful event, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. Although this can feel rather sudden in that there is a rapid increase in shedding, the reality is that there is a process that the hair is cycling through, and shedding is closer to the midpoint.

"In other words, the stressful event triggers a change in the pattern of hair growth. Hairs enter the resting phase early and then re-enter the growth phase. The old hair is retained in the follicle until the new hair from the next growth phase physically pushes the old hair out of the follicle, making way for new growth." 

Telogen effluvium isn't permanent hair loss. It's temporary hair loss, and using products that promote healthy hair growth can help. To get your hair thinning situation under control, it's crucial to consider how you treat your hair.

Many drugstore shampoos and conditioners contain damaging sulfates and silicones that can accelerate further hair loss. The GRO Revitalizing Shampoo & Conditioner Kit is enhanced with clinically proven plant actives and VEGAMOUR's proprietary Karmatin™, a first-of-its-kind vegan keratin. Washing your hair with this clean, color-safe duo will boost your hair and keep it looking healthier than ever. For stressed out scalps, try GRO+ Advanced Replenishing Shampoo & Conditioner with broad-spectrum hemp.

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Cancer Treatment

If you're going through radiation therapy or chemotherapy, you could experience hair loss. "Anagen effluvium related to chemo can be considered sudden. However, it is anticipated and expected, so we generally don't see patients panicked with regards to this," said Ilyas.

Other Causes of Hair Loss and Thinning

The causes of hair loss that aren't considered sudden are wide and varied. Here are some other reasons why you might lose or experience thinning hair.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic or androgenic alopecia is more commonly known as female pattern baldness or, in men, male pattern baldness. It is considered to be a genetic condition. Note that female pattern hair loss and a receding hairline aren't as common in females as in males, but check in with a health care professional if you're concerned.

Women can also experience hormonal hair loss are they go through pregnancy and menopause.

Thyroid Disease

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can cause hair loss. Your thyroid plays a part in developing new hair, so if you have thyroid problems, your hair could suffer.

If you're experiencing excessive breakage or weak, dry and brittle hair alongside other medical conditions and suspect your thyroid as the cause, book an appointment with your health care provider for a thorough examination.

See: 5 Ways Hormones Impact Your Hair

Poor Scalp Health

If you live with dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis or another medical condition that can occur on the scalp, it's likely to impact hair growth and hair retention. Massaging the scalp and using our GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum can help clear away debris and make space for the hair to grow strong and long.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is the constant pulling and tugging of hair. In other words, when you constantly pull your hair into tight braids or a slick hairstyle. If your hair falls out because of how you're styling your hair, it's time to introduce some less-harsh styles into your repertoire. You could also use gentle hair ties release the tension.

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Nutritional Deficiencies

An unhealthy diet can seriously impact a healthy head of hair. So as part of your hair wellness routine, make sure you're eating foods packed with iron, biotin, vitamin A, vitamin E and more. 

How to Address Sudden Hair Loss

If you are experiencing rapid hair loss, assess your current situation. Are you working through a lot of changes? Have you had a sudden shock? Is the loss an expected side effect of medical treatment?

"If you experience sudden hair loss, please contact your dermatologist. Accurate diagnosis is key to avoiding excess or inappropriate therapeutic intervention," Dr. Ilyas advised.

Additionally, taking a holistic approach to your health and your hair can help calm down a sudden hair loss situation. Over time, your hair will thrive once again by taking steps such as reducing stress, using gentle, nurturing hair products, eating a balanced diet and attending regular appointments with your medical professional.


Photo credit: Greta Hoffman/Pexels

Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.