It's typical to lose some hair every day as part of your hair’s usual growth cycle. For most people, the lost hair grows back, and you maintain a full head of hair. But illness, hormonal changes, stress, aging and inherited conditions can interfere with your hair’s growth cycle. More hair falls out, but new strands don’t always grow back.
Most healthy people lose up to 100 strands of hair per day. As part of your hair’s growth cycle, new strands grow and take the place of the ones you shed.
When you start to shed more strands — and fewer or none grow back — the condition is considered alopecia (hair loss). There are several types of hair loss, and it can affect adults of any gender and even children. You may lose hair just on your head or from your body as well.
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Some types of hair loss are permanent, while others are temporary. The most common types of hair loss include:
Baldness (androgenic alopecia) is the most common type of hair loss. It affects an estimated 80 million individuals in the U.S.
Hair loss is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Alopecia areata affects up to 6.8 million people in the U.S.
Hair loss has many possible causes. The most common include:
People experience hair loss in different ways, depending on the type of hair loss and what’s causing it. Common symptoms include:
Losing your hair — whether the hair loss is temporary or permanent — can be emotionally difficult for many people. Some types of hair loss can eventually lead to baldness.
If you lose significant hair, it’s important to protect your scalp. Wear a hat, scarf or other head covering when you’re in the sun, and apply sunscreen daily. Sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.
In some cases, the cause of hair loss is obvious — for example, if you're losing hair while going through chemotherapy. Other times, your healthcare provider will need to do some detective work to figure out what’s causing your hair loss.
To determine the correct diagnosis, your provider may:
If your hair loss results from medication, hormonal imbalances, thyroid disease or diet, your provider will address the cause. Correcting the underlying problem is often all that’s needed to help stop hair loss.
Most hair loss treatments are meant to help with androgenic alopecia (male and female pattern hair loss). These treatments include:
You can’t prevent all types of hair loss, but you can take steps to help keep your hair healthy and minimize loss. To help prevent hair loss:
Hair loss can sometimes be a sign of an underlying disease. But hair loss itself poses no medical risk.
Depending on what’s causing your hair loss, it may be temporary or permanent. Treatments can help people with certain types of hair loss. For conditions like alopecia areata that may affect children as well as adults, groups can provide emotional support and even help you buy wigs or find other ways to cope.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hair loss from any cause can be emotionally challenging. Talk to your healthcare provider about what may be causing your hair loss. In many cases, effective treatments exist that can slow hair loss and help spur new hair growth. And many people find ways to thrive and feel great, no matter how much — or how little — hair they have.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/26/2021.
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