Medical Conditions that Cause Hair Loss

Specific Conditions

There are a number of medical conditions that can cause hair loss, either temporary or permanent. Usually losing your hair is a perfectly natural state of affairs, and is down to genetics more than anything else, however this is not always the case. Sometimes there is an underlying cause that needs to be investigated, as it could be a sign that all is not well

The body has a complex immune system which protects the body from viruses, bacteria or any illness that attacks that system. Medications can help to protect but during the course of the medication it can harm other cells in our bodies. How the body reacts depends on each individual person and so there is no definite cure for everyone.

Hair loss can be a sign that there is something wrong. Unnatural hair loss needs to be checked by a professional. For some it is hereditary and hair can be lost from an early age, receding from the front of the scalp and does not mean there is anything wrong. A thyroid disease can be the cause of unnatural hair loss and blood tests will determine whether this is the case. Once the thyroid is back under control the hair will start to grow back. The earlier a disease is diagnosed the higher the success rate.

Some medical conditions can have the opposite effect on the hair and actually cause it to grow and thicken. This can be due to hormone imbalance such as during pregnancy. Once the hormones are back to normal the excess hair will fall out and the hair’s normal cycle of growing and being dormant will be restored.


Some suffer from anaemia, especially pregnant women. When the iron in the blood is low it can leave a person feeling very tired and lethargic. Hair can start to fall out as a by-product of this condition, and is another sign that there is something wrong. Once under control the hair will start to grow again although this may take a few months.


The hair follicles on the scalp are subject to many changes not only through medication but environmental, styling and even the way in which the hair is looked after. The hair follicles need the vitamins and nutrients in order for them to be able to hold the hair roots. Constant pulling and stretching of the hair can damage the follicles and cause them to shrink. If they keep on shrinking they will eventually be unable to hold the hair and be permanently damaged.

For some, constant hair pulling is a condition they are unable to control. This is known as trichotillomania and may be caused by stress or anxiety and they get comfort from pulling or ‘twirling’ on the hair from the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes. This can eventually cause bald patches and in extreme cases permanent damage to the hair follicles. Finding the underlying cause of the stress will often require the help of an expert and advise should be sought if hair is coming out in clumps when it is pulled.

Hair loss and diet

There are ways in which the wellbeing of the body in general can be improved such as a good diet, increasing the vitamins and nutrients that the body receives. Change of diet can be discussed with a specialist who can advice the best food when certain medications are taken.

Eating disorders are the result of medical or psychological conditions that can take their toll on the condition of the body in general. As the skin and hair can be the first signs of illness, the first signs of hair loss along with unhealthy eating should be looked at by an expert. If the hair follicles are not getting the nutrients they need they will shrink and be unable to hold the hair roots.

Hair loss and cancer treatment

Each time the body receives harsh medication the body’s good cells can be damaged along with the damaged cells. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are used to kill cancer cells, and are amongst the most invasive medicinal treatments a person is likely to endure.

Cancer cells grow quicker than normal cells and the radiation is a lot more harmful to these quick growing cells than it is to the normal cells. Whilst radiotherapy and chemotherapy aim to kill the cancer cells, they will also take their toll on the general health of the body. When the body is unable to supply the healthy nutrients to the skin cells, hair follicles can become damaged and die. Hair thinning can be seen and may lead to some bald patches. In general these will grow back after the medication has finished, but may take time.

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