Can Inflammation Cause Female Hair Loss?

Losing hair can affect our self-esteem unlike anything else. Some of the psychological effects of thinning and balding can be highly devastating and affect the quality of a woman’s life. Hair loss is caused by many factors, including genetics and nutrition.

Many of these medical causes of hair loss have one thing in common: inflammation. Interestingly, inflammation causes hair loss in the ways highlighted next.

The Role of Inflammation in the Body

Inflammation is often seen as a necessary evil, but it can actually play a positive role in the body.

So, what is inflammation?

In short, inflammation is the immune system’s way of protecting the body from injury, illness, and ‘invasion’ (1). It’s a complicated cascade of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators that play a crucial role in protecting your cells and organs from damage.

Unfortunately, it’s possible for inflammation to become a chronic issue. This occurs when the inflammatory response is improperly regulated which can be triggered by various factors (2).

Can Inflammation Cause Hair Loss?

In short: yes. Normally, and generally, inflammation occurs when the body has to fight off intruding microorganisms (3). In some cases, the body’s immune system will interpret the body’s cells and organs as foreign organisms and fight them.

The hair follicles can be interpreted as intruding elements and are often destroyed by the body’s immune system. This results in the medical condition alopecia, or inflammation based hair loss.

During this time, the scalp will be damaged by the immune system, and the hair roots will be unable to obtain proper nutrition (4). This is the link between inflammation and hair loss.

A scalp that is damaged by inflammation will usually have a burning sensation and some red itchy spots. Also, the scalp may experience flaking and other skin irritation.

Symptoms of Hair Loss Due to Inflammation

A notable symptom of inflammation is a rise in temperature. This is usually because of the increased flow of blood at the inflamed part of the body. Other signs of inflammation include:


This is caused by the accumulation of fluid at the site of inflammation.


This is also caused by the increased flow of blood in the area.


This results from the release of chemicals that stimulate nerve endings.

Loss of Function at the Site of Inflammation

On the scalp, this can mean thinning, and an eventual reduction in hair growth.

Digestive Problems

Inflammation, while it may be largely present in one area of the body, can also be a systemic problem. This means that many or all bodily systems are affected.

This may result in gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and nutrient malabsorption.

There may even be reason to believe that poor gut homeostasis leads to systemic inflammation, so the link between inflammation and the digestive system isn’t that difficult to believe (5).


As evidenced by the latest research on the topic, inflammation and chronic fatigue go hand in hand (6).

As such, you may experience inexplicable fatigue as a result of untreated inflammation.

What Causes Inflammatory Hair Loss in Women?

Since inflammation and hair loss are closely linked, women should take steps to prevent the cause of the problem. They can do this by first learning about the causes of inflammation.

Bacterial, Viral, or Fungal Infection

One key cause of inflammation is low-grade bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the bloodstream and certain organs in the body. One species of bacteria that is known to cause inflammation is H pylori(7). Besides inflammation, this bacteria causes ulcers.

It is estimated that about half of all adults over 40 have this bacteria in their guts (8). As mentioned before, the body’s defense system will try to combat these elements and will end up causing harm to the body.

In some cases, the immune system will simply react because of an imbalance of bacteria and fungi in the gut (9). This will not usually cause notable symptoms. This imbalance can usually be cleared up by a good diet, a colostrum supplement, and high quality probiotics.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions also cause inflammation in the body. This condition overworks the immune system and forces it to flush out the allergen. The perplexing thing about allergies is that they are can develop and change over time. You can go from being able to eat an omelet every morning to being allergic to eggs (yes, really). So, don’t assume right off the bat that this isn’t a concern for you, merely because it hasn’t been in the past.

Physical and Emotional Stress

Also, women who experience a lot of physical, psychological and emotional stress (which is most of us, right?) are likely to end up with inflammation. This is because stress increases the production of cortisol, a hormone which sets off a chain of negative reactions in our body (10, 11).

Exposure to Toxins

Toxins from the air, water, and metals such as mercury and chlorine can also lead to inflammation (12). These toxins should be avoided as they cause many other health problems. Clean eating is one way to reduce exposure to toxins. Another quick fix is adding a reverse osmosis system to your water sources at home.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

Our unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles can also cause this problem. They should embrace an active lifestyle and always get enough sleep at the end of the day. Also, eating a balanced diet and drinking sufficient amounts of water will prevent inflammation in the body.

About Brandon Ross MD