WebMD Logo Icon
WebMD Connect to Care helps you find services to manage your health. When you purchase any of these services, WebMD may receive a fee. WebMD does not endorse any product, service or treatment referred to on this page. X

What Causes Hair Thinning?

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Hair thinning causes can include aging, your genes, shifting hormones, and your diet. Learn what else might be playing a role.

Whether you’re a woman or a man, it’s normal for your hair to thin as you get older, according to Cleveland Clinic. But in some cases, hair loss could be a symptom of an underlying condition or health issue. Here are some of things that could be making your hair lose its fullness. 

Reasons for Hair Thinning

Your genes.These play a key role in male- or female-pattern baldness, which is a common part of aging. If you’re a woman, your hair may get thinner overall, but the condition isn’t likely to make your hairline recede or bring on baldness. If you’re a man, your hair may thin near the top of your head, and you’re more likely to have a retreating hairline and balding. 

Stress. Certain stressful events can make your hair look thin—sometimes a couple months after the stressful situation. It’s a condition called telogen effluvium, and your hair usually grows back on its own. Triggers for stress-induced hair loss can include:

  • Childbirth
  • Surgery
  • Illness or fever
  • Losing a loved one

Thyroid irregularities. Your thyroid regulates metabolism, growth, and many body functions. If your thryroid gland isn't working properly, it can cause hair loss.

Your diet. Not getting enough of certain nutrients from food can also play a role. Dietitian and nutritionist Erin Kenney, RD, LDN, tells WebMD Connect to Care that nutritional deficiencies are one of the top causes of hair loss that she sees in her private practice. These deficiencies include not getting enough protein, and low levels of iron or vitamin D. 

The good news is that certain foods may help your locks look fuller. Some hair-friendly choices are: 

  • Salmon
  • Greek yogurt
  • Lean poultry
  • Oysters

Pulled-back hairstyles. Ponytails, braids, cornrows, and other styles that pull on your locks can thin your hair in areas where the tug is tightest. You can prevent damage and hair loss by loosening up the style and changing it after 2-3 months, according to a 2018 article by the American Academy of Dermatology Association entitled “Hairstyles That Pull Can Lead to Hair Loss.” 

    Hair Thinning Treatment and Prevention: Get Help Now

    The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.