7 reasons your hair may be thinning and how to stop shedding

7 reasons your hair may be thinning and how to stop shedding
If you've noticed that there is more hair on your brush or pillow than usual, then your hair may be thinning.Westend61/Getty Images
  • Thinning hair is often the result of stress, hormone imbalances, or androgenic alopecia.
  • A low protein diet can also cause hair loss since protein is a building block for hair.
  • You may also be losing hair if you use hot styling tools often since these can damage hair.

If you feel like your hair isn't as thick as it used to be, you're not alone. The average person loses around 50 to 100 hairs a day - and this number can keep going up if you aren't eating right, are stressed, or have certain medical conditions.

Here are seven reasons you might be experiencing hair thinning and how to fix it.

1. Hormone imbalance

A common reason for hair thinning in women is a hormone imbalance, says Debra Jaliman, MD, board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of Dermatology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

A hormone imbalance is usually caused by one of two things:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a condition that causes women to have a surplus of the male hormone, testosterone. While it's more common for people with PCOS to experience excess hair growth, it can cause hair thinning in some cases. Because testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which shrinks the hair follicle and causes the hair to become thin, brittle, and more prone to falling out, says Jaliman.
  • Menopause: Women typically experience menopause in their 40s or 50s. During this time, estrogen levels fall and testosterone levels increase. Again, this results in DHT affecting hair growth.

How to fix it:


Jaliman says people with PCOS may be prescribed a drug called Spironolactone which blocks excess male hormones. For menopausal women, especially if you're experiencing other bothersome symptoms, hormone therapy may be an option.

2. Low protein diets

Not getting enough nutrients - especially protein - can cause hair loss, Jaliman says. Protein is a building block for hair, since hair is made up primarily of a protein called keratin.

Jaliman says when you don't get enough protein, the protein you do eat is prioritized for more essential bodily functions, and hair growth is deprioritized. This stops your body from growing new hairs, which results in sparser tresses.

In one small 2015 study, women with thinning hair were given a protein supplement to take twice a day for 90 days. At the end of the study, researchers found that the extra protein promoted hair growth and decreased hair loss.

How to fix it:

Related Article Module: How much protein you need in order to lose weight and gain muscle, according to dietitians

Be sure to eat adequate amounts of protein, which should be 0.35 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Some protein-rich foods Jaliman recommends include:

3. Being postpartum

After giving birth, you may experience a period of excessive hair shedding called telogen effluvium. This happens because your estrogen levels drop after you deliver a baby. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is common in new moms, and the problem may peak around four months after giving birth.

How to fix it:

Be patient as your body returns to normal. Usually, the problem will resolve itself in around a year. Jaliman says you can also take biotin supplements while you wait, which can help with hair growth and thickness.

4. Stress

Related Article Module: 15 simple and effective ways to relieve stress

There's a strong connection between the mind and body, and stress can be enough to cause your hair to thin, says Peterson Pierre, MD, board-certified dermatologist at the Pierre Skin Care Institute.


Just as telogen effluvium may occur in the postpartum period, Pierre says it can also be triggered by being under a lot of stress. For example, it may occur three to six months after a death in the family, illness, job loss, or relocation, says Pierre. The delay is due to the fact that it takes time for the change to cause a shift in the hair cycle.

How to fix it:

Be patient while your body heals, meanwhile trying to manage your stress levels. The issue will resolve itself in time, but Pierre says you can also try products like Rogaine to stimulate regrowth more quickly.

5. Heat damage

If you straighten your hair or use other hot styling tools often, heat damage may be to blame, says Jaliman. This is because heat styling can cause hair to become brittle and weak, leading to breakage.

How to fix it:


It may be hard to stop using your heat styling tools, but the more you use them, the more your hair will break. Ideally, you should take a few months off from using your straightener. Then, try limiting the heat of your tools to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and only use them once a week, says Jaliman.

6. Androgenetic alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia is a genetic condition also known as male or female pattern baldness. While it can cause true hair loss and baldness, you may first notice hair thinning.

This condition is triggered by DHT, a breakdown product of testosterone, causing hair follicles to shrink and the hair cycle to shorten-this leads to slower hair growth.

In women, hair may thin all over the head, but the hairline won't recede. In men, hair will begin thinning at the crown and the hairline will recede. This condition may start as early as adolescence, but the risk increases with age. Once it starts, it persists for the rest of your life unless you treat it, says Pierre.

How to fix it:


Use a product like Rogaine to stimulate hair regrowth, Pierre says. There are also prescription options such as Minoxidil and Propecia. For these, you would need to see your dermatologist to assess the hair thinning situation and discuss the proper course of action. Pierre says you can also try supplements such as Nutrafol, which has been shown to aid hair growth.

7. Underlying medical condition

Some medical conditions or deficiencies can lead to hair thinning. Jaliman says examples of these include:

How to fix it:

The only way to fix hair thinning from a medical condition is to correct the underlying issue, whether that be with prescription medications or supplements. Typically, you can get a diagnosis for the medical conditions listed above from a routine blood test, which your primary care physician can administer.

Insider's takeaway

There are many possible causes for thinning hair, and luckily, there are also plenty of solutions.


If you're experiencing hair thinning and suspect it's from an underlying medical condition, it's best to see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Otherwise, a dermatologist can help determine the cause of your thinning hair and help you regain those full, luscious locks.

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