Hair Loss in Teens – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan
by Annie Jangam

Yes, you can experience hair loss as a teenager. It can be overwhelming, embarrassing, and traumatic. Fortunately, most cases of hair loss in teenagers can be successfully reversed once we understand the root cause. In fact, early signs of hair loss start during adolescence and worsen as you age. Hence, prompt treatment is important. We discuss here the causes of hair loss in teens, the symptoms, and the various treatment options available.

What Causes Hair Loss In Teenagers?

Excess stress, lack of sleep, and crash diets can cause hair loss in a teenager. Nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and bad hair care practices are the other common culprits. Serious medical conditions such as autoimmune, genetic, and psychological disorders may also cause hair loss (1). These conditions require immediate medical attention.

Here, we elaborate on the many causes of hair loss in teenagers.

1. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes during puberty and adolescence can lead to hair loss. Thyroid and reproductive hormones regulate hair growth, and their imbalances can lead to hair loss (1). Hair loss related to thyroid disorders is common in both males and females. Hair loss in females related to PCOS may start in the early teenage years (2).

2. Inadequate Nutrition

Poor eating habits, including the consumption of processed foods containing refined flour and sugar, can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Anemia (caused due to iron deficiency), bulimia, anorexia, and crash diets are the common causes of teenage hair loss (3).

3. Excess Stress

Teenagers undergo physical and mental changes that can cause a lot of stress. Academics, family obligations, social and personal relationships, and peer pressure can take a toll on their mental health. This can lead to hair loss(1).

4. Medications

Acne is a common problem in teens. Anti-acne medications, antibiotics, and antidepressants may cause hair loss. Birth control pills may disrupt hormones resulting in hair loss (1). In a few cases, the hair loss may be temporary and could stop once the medication is discontinued. It is recommended to consult a doctor if the problem persists.

5. Over-Styling

Using hair styling tools (blow dryers, hair straighteners, and curling irons)too often can cause hair damage and breakage. Dyeing, perming, straightening, and relaxing one’s hair too frequently can also result in hair loss (4).

6. Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss caused due to force or friction. Tight hairstyles like buns and braids, helmets, sports gears, and overhead earphones can also cause hair loss (5). Wearing the same hairstyle or using extensions often may also contribute to hair loss.

7. Trichotillomania

This is a behavioral disorder where the person compulsively pulls out their hair, resulting in bald patches on the scalp (8). This psychological disorder is more common in females (9).

Some other causes of hair loss may include:

1. Androgenic Alopecia

Androgenic hair loss in males can be observed as a receding hairline. In females, it causes the overall hair thinning on the scalp (6).

2. Alopecia Areata

This is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own hair follicles (7).

3. Medical Conditions

Scalp conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and fungal infections may lead to balding spots and hair loss(10).

These are the most common causes of hair loss in teens. Identifying the early signs of teenage hair loss can help them take preventive measures.

Early Signs Of Teenage Hair Loss

  • A Receding Hairline (In Males)

We all lose hair as we age. A natural loss in hair can be observed in males as a maturing hairline. It is an even hairline that changes from adolescence. However, an uneven hairline or sudden hair loss near the temples could be one of the early signs of hair loss. This receding hairline in the teen years can signal deeper issues that need to be addressed.

  • A Thinning Crown (In Females)

In women, hair loss occurs as a uniform thinning of the scalp. This results in scanty hair or balding at the crown. Women are recommended to monitor their hair loss as it can often go unnoticed. Areas exposing your scalp, wispy hair, and excess hair breakage are among the early signs of teenage hair loss in females.

  • Noticeable Hair On Pillows Or In Bathroom Drains

Hair clogging the drains or excess hair strands on the pillow could mean trouble. Keep a tab on the hair loss pattern. Seek professional help if the hair loss is more than usual.

  • Itchy, Flaky Scalp

An itchy, flaky scalp could often be a symptom of psoriasis, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. Constant scratching, pulling, and tugging at your hair can lead to hair breakage

  • Thin, Wispy Hair Growth

Losing hair every day is normal. However, regrown hair that is thin and wispy could be a cause for concern.

How To Treat Hair Loss In Teenagers

Holistic approaches are much safer to treat hair loss in the early teenage years. A healthy diet, hormonal supplements, and a good hair care routine can prevent hair loss.

1. Anti-Fungal Treatments

Anti-fungal medicines, emollients, and treatments can help treat different scalp conditions (11). Seek a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.

2. Medication And Nutritional Supplements

Consult a doctor and check for nutritional deficiencies. These can be corrected with medicines and nutritional supplements.

3. Hair Transplants

Wigs and hair extensions can help you cover bald spots. This approach could be cosmetic and superficial but can help fight social anxiety and embarrassment associated with hair loss, especially in teenagers. In severe cases, hair transplants may be necessary. It

4. Treatments For Hormonal imbalances

Fortunately, thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can be managed with medication. The hair can regrow as the hormone levels revert to normal levels. PCOS-related hair loss can be treated with anti-androgens, oral contraceptive pills, and medications such as minoxidil or finasteride (12), (13).

5. Better Diet Habits

A healthy diet is especially important for teenagers. Their rapid physical development would need more energy and nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to impaired hair growth and hair loss. Consuming foods rich in omega-3s, iron, zinc, vitamins, and protein can help. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are an added advantage. Nutritional supplements (multivitamins, collagen, biotin, and iron) could also help(14). Avoid processed foods like burgers, pizzas, sugary pastries, etc.

6. Reduced Over-Styling

Reduced use of hot tools or harsh chemicals can promote hair regrowth. Thermal protectants and regular hair trims can also help (15). Do not tie your hair into a tight bun or ponytail. Reduce the use of headgear and have a good hair care routine.

While these treatments may help reduce hair loss, taking preventive measures may stop its recurrence. Take note of the following remedies.

Remedies To Prevent Hair Loss

  1. Wash your hair regularly. Do not brush damp or wet hair.
  2. Avoid hair care products with sulfates, alcohol, artificial dyes, and parabens.
  3. Be gentle with your hair. Avoid tugging or vigorous brushing.
  4. Use hair masks, serums, detanglers, protectants, and natural oils.
  5. Have a dedicated fitness regime.
  6. Fix the underlying stress factors. A healthy school-life balance and a good exercise routine can help fight stress. Severe cases may require psychological guidance.
  7. Sleep for 7 to 8 hours every night.
  8. Massage your scalp for boosting blood circulation.

To Conclude

Being a teenager is not easy. Stress, hormonal changes, and social pressure can make life difficult and lead to hair loss. Fortunately, most cases of teenage hair loss can be reversed with the right lifestyle changes and medication. Visit a doctor if the hair loss persists. Certain cases of hair loss could be an early warning sign for an underlying condition. Timely diagnosis can prevent early balding.

15 sources

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Annie Jangam

Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."
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