What Does It Mean if You Have Hair Loss on One Side of Your Head

Vilma Ruddock
Hair loss

Hair loss only on one side of your head could have several possible causes. Finding and treating the underlying problem gives you the best chance to regrow your hair. Consult your doctor if the amount of hair loss is noticeable or significant to you.

Causes of Localized Hair Loss

There are many causes of hair loss, some of which lead to certain patterns of loss, which may be in patches or generalized thinning. For example, thinning of hair on the top (crown) of the scalp occurs in women with female hereditary pattern baldness. There is also the familiar male pattern hair loss. When the pattern is less recognizable, the reason for the hair loss can be puzzling.

Look for Potential Causes

There might be an immediate explanation for a localized, partial hair thinning or bald patches (alopecia areata) just on one side of the head if you look for one. In some cases the cause might not be as clear but there may be potential explanations. The best thing to do is to see your doctor, who might recommend seeing a dermatologist or other specialist to narrow down the possible cause or causes.

The following are some of the problems which could explain your one-sided hair loss:

  • Straightening hair
    Trauma: Hair loss can happen from trauma and lead to inflammation or scarring of your scalp. For example:
    • Hairstyles such as tight braids that put more traction on one side of your head than the other, especially with African American hair
    • Hair treatments, such as hair relaxers, perms or hair coloring that happen to burn or inflame one side of your hair or scalp more than the other
    • Hair styling implements, such as hot curling irons or hair straighteners, which can potentially cause more damage to one side of your hair than the other, depending on how you are applying them
  • One-sided traction: Some people subconsciously pull on parts of their hair only on one side while working or resting. This can weaken and break off hair anywhere along the shaft or from the follicles. The extreme of this is a psychiatric disorder called trichotillomania - a compulsive, constant pulling on the hair.
  • Sleeping on one side: Constant pressure and friction from your pillow on one side of your head while sleeping can potentially weaken the hair on that side and cause hair breakage and loss.
  • Systemic causes: Medical problems, in general, lead to hair loss all over the head but might preferentially and randomly start and attack weaker hairs or follicles on one side or the other. These include:
    • Systemic lupus erythematosis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself
    • Thyroid, or other endocrine or immune diseases
    • Certain medications such as antidepressants, high blood pressure medicines, or birth control pills
    • Surgery, a high fever, or chronic stress
  • Age: You hair thins out as you grow older and there is every chance that this could start on one side of your head before the other.
  • Localized scalp problems: These include diseases which might affect patches of the scalp and cause you to scratch and break your hair strands, or they cause scarring of the scalp and loss of hair follicles. These problems include:
    • Lichens planus, a skin disease of unknown cause
    • Psoriasis might affect just one part of the head and cause scarring and loss of hair
    • Tinea capitis (or scalp ring worm) which is more common in children, or other fungi could cause a localized scalp infection leading to patchy hair loss on one side of the head only
  • Circulation problems: It is possible that a problem with circulation or inflammation in blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to your hair follicles on one side of the head could cause your hair to thin out on that side.

The cause of your one-sided hair loss might soon become apparent to you from this list. However, for some causes, it might not be possible to make a diagnosis without seeing your doctor.

Treatment of One-Sided Hair Loss

The treatment of hair loss on one side of your head, like any other pattern of hair loss, depends on the cause. This is why it is important to try pin down the problem. Based on the cause, management includes the following:

  • Anti hair loss injection
    Treating any underlying disease that may have caused you to lose your hair
  • Stop all traumatic hair treatments, hair grooming, hair styles, and products
  • Start out the night by sleeping on your side opposite to your hair loss even if you toss and turn all night. Return to your "good" side if you wake up and find yourself on the "bad" hair side. Try, if possible, to alternate sleeping sides when your hair regrows.
  • Temporary hair extensions can even out your look until your hair grows back. However, be careful about worsening the problem by causing more traction on your scalp.
  • If necessary, you can use a wig when you go out until your hair starts growing back
  • Your doctor might recommend medications to treat your hair loss if necessary, such as:
    • Topical minoxidil (Rogaine)
    • Oral or topical medication or shampoo to treat any fungal infection
    • Localized steroid scalp injections to treat psoriasis or any autoimmune causes can help hair regrow

Your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment based on the explanation for your hair loss. You can also try natural hair loss treatments to help you regrow your hair.

Search for the Cause

Hair loss is common and has many causes. When you lose hair on only one side of your head, search for the obvious and the not so obvious potential cause to determine the best way to manage your condition. Don't hesitate to consult your doctor if the problem is significant or worrisome to you.

What Does It Mean if You Have Hair Loss on One Side of Your Head