Reasons For Hair Loss Among Teens

Teen Talk: Hair Loss Among Teens
Posted at 8:38 AM, Apr 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 08:20:30-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) - Hair loss can be a common problem for adults. But, what to do when it becomes a problem for teens.

WTXL ABC 27's Christine Souders sat down on Monday with our Family Therapist, Jane Marks. The two discussed some of the reasons why this might be happening to youth.

Marks says hair loss in teens may be a sign of several things going on. Certainly losing hair can be significantly stressful because most teens struggle with self-image.  Teens feel that the hair represents so much of who they are.  Hair loss during adolescence can signify potentially multiple health conditions.

1.  Get Medical clearance. Go to your primary care physician and check out the following medical conditions; thyroid issues, uncontrolled diabetes and the possibility of an immune system condition like Lupus. There is a very little known condition called poly-cystic ovarian syndrome which often causes hair loss.  We see it in a number of teenagers that we work with on a regular basis. Some studies show that when there are estrogen dominance in patients, particularly high school girls, this can also contribute to hair loss. Involvement of a Gynecologist or Endocrinologist may be in order.

2. Athletes are at high-risk for hair loss because they are more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia.  Anemia can result in hair loss.

3. There are certain medicines that can also affect hair loss. Chemotherapy drugs for cancer are certainly big indicators.  Hair loss can also be a side effect of some medicines used to treat acne, or bi-polar disorder, and in some cases Attention Deficit Disorder.

4. Alopecia Amrita, this is a skin disease that causes hair loss from the scalp but sometimes elsewhere on the body.  About 1 in 50 people will get this type of alopecia in their life.  It is typically seen as an auto-immune disorder and hair follicles are damaged by the person's own immune system.

5.  Poor nutrition, not eating enough healthy foods can contribute to hair loss.  This is why some people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia have thinning hair.  The body is not getting enough vitamins and minerals to support hair growth and so certainly nutrition needs to be examined.

6.  Hair treatments and styling treatments can use chemicals like hair color, bleach, straightening, perms.  A hair style that pulls too tightly can cause traction alopecia.  Traction alopecia means the hair follicles are damaged because the hair is simply too tight.

7. Catastrophic events can alter the hair growth cycle temporarily.  Having surgery, going through a traumatic event, serious illness, high fevers, and sudden loss of an animal can interrupt hair growth.  However, over time it usually corrects itself.

8. Genetic predisposition to hair loss is a common factor or common pattern that has occurred among teens.

9. Keep track of excessive shedding; be cautious about pulling out your hair.  Teenagers often play with their hair absentmindedly twirling or tugging at their hair.  This may be a symptom of a disorder call trichotillomania, in which people pull out their hair when nervous or distracted.

10. Hair loss is often caused by scaly and broken hairs.  For example, if a person has ring worm or some kind of fungal infection, this can create hair loss.

11. Protect hair from heat. The heat from blow dryers, straightening irons, and curling irons can damage it, making it break and shed.  This may also be responsible for hair loss.  Reduce chemical exposure.  Be careful and treat your hair without chemicals if possible.

12. Look into shampoos, some can sometimes cause irritation and balding.

The key in taking care of your hair is eating a balanced diet. Healthy diet is an important part of the reason for losing hair.  Some doctors recommend using baby shampoo, washing your hair no more than once a day, lathering gently, styling your hair so that it doesn't pull it out.  Solutions include talking to your hair stylist about treatments in styling, take family history into consideration.  So all of these things need to be kept in mind.  See your family doctor or dermatologist about medical conditions and if indeed they think it is psychological, consult a mental health care specialist.

These are some tips for resolving a problem that often occurs during the teen years.  Here's to healthy hair!