The majority of people will experience some degree of hair loss throughout their life. Most people begin noticing hair loss during adulthood. But less commonly, some people start losing their hair as teenagers.
Potential causes of hair loss in teenagers include genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, and underlying medical conditions. In some cases, hair loss can be reversible with proper treatment.
Let’s look at a wide range of potential causes of hair loss in teenagers. We’ll also examine treatment options for each.
Here are some of the potential causes of hair loss in teenagers.
In men, it generally appears as a recession of the hairline in an M, V, or U shape and a gradual balding at the crown. Women usually notice a gradual thinning along the part of their hair.
Pattern hair loss usually starts in adulthood, but can also start during your teenage years. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to experience this form of hair loss, but its prevalence is currently not known.
You’re most likely to develop pattern hair loss if you have close relatives who also developed it.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair to fall out in patches.
Autoimmune conditions develop when your body mistakes healthy cells in your body for foreign invaders. In the case of alopecia areata, your immune system attacks your hair follicles. You may notice hair loss on your scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or body.
Malnutrition is a lack of proper nutrition that can be caused by not eating enough, eating too much, or not getting the right balance of nutrients. A lack of access to food, dietary imbalances, eating disorders, or digestive conditions are some potential causes.
Deficiencies in nutrients may cause hair loss, including in:
Thyroid conditions that lead to an underproduction or overproduction of thyroid hormones may cause hair loss or brittle hair.
Hair loss caused by a thyroid condition usually appears as a uniform thinning across your scalp. Hair loss is most common in people with severe or prolonged thyroid disease. Lost hair often regrows with proper treatment.
Lupus is an autoimmune condition caused by your immune system targeting your tissues and organs. Lupus can cause symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, a butterfly-shaped rash, and hair loss.
People with lupus may notice a gradual thinning. Hair loss may or may not grow back.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common female health issue that leads to excess levels of androgen, or male sex hormones.
It’s normal for women to produce hormones like testosterone. But when they produce too much, it can lead to symptoms like disrupted menstrual cycles, acne, and hair thinning.
Treating the hormonal imbalances in your body may lead to hair regrowth.
Some medicines and medical treatments
A number of medications and medical treatments can lead to hair loss. Some examples include:
- acne medications
- anticlotting drugs
- antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- antifungal treatments
- blood pressure medication
- cholesterol-lowering drugs
- gout medication
Hair treatment, coloring, and styling
Regularly coloring your hair or getting chemical hair treatments can damage your hair, and potentially lead to an increase in hair breakage. These treatments don’t usually affect your hair root, and your hair will likely grow back once you stop treatment.
Chlorine found in swimming pools, bleaching your hair, and exposing your hair to excessive heat are also all potential causes of hair damage.
Other causes of hair loss
- Traction alopecia. This form of hair loss is caused by the repeated stress of wearing your hair in tight buns, ponytails or braids. Hair loss is often along your hairline and may be reversible if you intervene early.
- Trichotillomania. This is a psychological disorder where a person feels the overwhelming need to pull out their own hair. Symptoms typically onset between the ages of
10 to 13.
- Ringworm of the scalp. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause patches of itchy and scaly skin on your scalp. In some cases, ringworm can cause inflammation that leads to scarring and hair loss.
- Telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss that causes excessive shedding of hair. Stress, illness, childbirth, or weight loss are some of the many potential causes.
Puberty causes fluctuations in hormone levels that can potentially affect hair growth. Pattern hair loss can start immediately after puberty and progress over time. Pattern hair loss is the most common cause of hair loss for men and women.
It’s possible for teenagers to experience patchy hair loss, thinning hair, or pattern hair loss depending on the underlying cause. If hair loss is caused by an underlying medical condition, you may experience a number of other symptoms along with hair loss.
|Type of hair loss||Patchy hair loss||Pattern hair loss||Hair thinning||Complete hair loss||Hairline recession|
|Hair treatment, coloring, and styling||✓|
|Polycystic ovary syndrome||✓|
|Ringworm of the scalp||✓|
If your child is experiencing hair loss, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor. They can help you determine if there’s a medical cause leading to hair loss or if it’s caused by genetic factors.
In some cases, an early diagnosis can increase chances of regrowing hair.
A doctor may be able to diagnose the cause of your hair loss with a physical examination and by examining your medical history. They may do a pull test to see how many hairs come out, and examine your scalp with a microscope.
A doctor may order a blood test if they suspect a hormonal imbalance or nutrient deficiency. They may also take a small biopsy of your scalp.
The best treatment option for your type of hair loss depends on the cause. In some cases, hair loss may be reversible with proper treatment.
|Type of hair loss||Treatment options for teenagers|
|Alopecia areata||Corticosteroids through injections, ointments, or oral treatments, other immune modulating medications|
|Genetic||Minoxidil (Rogaine)*, finasteride, spironolactone, PRP|
|Hair treatment, coloring and styling||Avoid further hair treatments|
|Lupus||Avoid sun, eat an overall healthy diet, limit stress, get plenty of rest|
|Malnutrition||Correct nutrient deficiencies|
|Medications||Adjust medication dosage, switch medications|
|Polycystic ovary syndrome||Birth control, metformin, spironolactone, clomiphene, surgery|
|Ringworm of the scalp||Antifungal medication, medicated shampoo|
|Telogen effluvium||Eat an overall healthy diet, reduce stress, PRP, hair supplements|
|Thyroid conditions||Thyroid medications|
|Traction alopecia||Avoid tight ponytails and buns, corticosteroid injections|
|Trichotillomania||Behavioral therapy, various medications|
* Topical minoxidil (Rogaine) is not FDA-approved for people under the age of 18 due to a lack of research. However, it’s been used successfully in some studies for treating pattern hair loss. You should only use minoxidil if your doctor tells you it’s okay.
Some causes of hair loss in teenagers can be stopped and potentially reversed. For example, if you’re experiencing hair loss caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormones, correcting the hormonal imbalance may improve hair growth.
Other causes, like genetic hair loss, have no known cure and will likely progress with time but can be slowed down with treatment.
The best way to know if you can stop hair loss is to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor.
Losing your hair at a young age can be very difficult. Your child may feel like they need to hide hair loss, and feel stressed and anxious about their hair loss progressing.
Hair loss can be caused by stress or anxiety in anyone, namely teenagers. Coping with hair loss can be difficult. It may cause poor self-esteem and have a big effect on confidence — especially at an age when many people start dating and learning who they are.
If your child is experiencing hair loss, it’s important to remind them that losing their hair doesn’t change the person they are and doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them. You can let them know that you’re ready to listen if they want to talk about it.
If your child is stressed or depressed, their doctor can recommend an experienced counselor.
There are many reasons why teenagers may experience hair loss. Genetic hair loss can start after puberty and lead to a pattern of hair loss. Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune condition that can onset in childhood or as a teenager.
It’s a good idea to see a doctor if your child is dealing with hair loss in order to get a proper diagnosis and rule out potential medical conditions.