Loss of body hair can be scary and confusing – and its onset can appear to be overnight.

And while the loss of hair from the head, such as is seen with thinning hair, male pattern baldness, alopecia and receding hairlines is commonplace, the loss of body hair is a different and far less common problem – which makes it more worrisome to those enduring it.

What Causes Body Hair Loss?

There are various circumstances and conditions that can result in the overall loss of body hair. While some may be less obvious, such as thinner eyebrows and fewer eye lashes, or a reduced amount of hair on the face, arms, legs, genitals, or torso, some people may experience a complete loss of all body hair in particular areas of the body. In many instances, there is an underlying cause for body hair loss. Some conditions may cause a temporary reduction in the amount of body hair, while other cases of body hair loss may be permanent. Hormonal disorders, skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis), medications, illness, stress, nutrition, burns, and skin injuries can all cause the loss of body hair. Cancer, immune system disorders, and both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be causes of body hair loss.

Dealing With Body Hair Loss

If you are experiencing the loss of body hair, it is important that you visit your doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition; treating underlying conditions is more important than treating the hair loss. The checklist below will help you understand your body hair loss more effectively:

  • Visit the doctor. The very first step in treating body hair loss is to visit your doctor. Your doctor is better prepared to assess the issues behind the sudden loss of body hair, and the causes of body hair loss. Your doctor will likely want to run a full blood work-up to gauge hormone levels and check other essential blood levels, including a thyroid test because thyroid disease is a major cause for hair loss. From there, your doctor may refer you to a specialist such as a dermatologist or rheumatologist for further assessment and more testing. Sometimes there is an underlying disease that causes body hair loss that is easily cured with an antibiotic. Other times it may be an autoimmune disease that requires further examination before working towards a cure. Some hair loss is truly difficult to pinpoint. In these cases there are other means of dealing with the hair loss.Also, if you have been severely ill recently either with a high fever and/or a severe infection, that may be the underlying cause of the body hair loss. Even major surgery can have such an impact. Be sure to share with your doctor all the medications and supplements you are taking because some of these may be causing your hair body hair loss.
  • Review your diet. Good nutrition is not only vital to your health, it is also essential for maintaining a good body, and that means that your body hair loss may be associated with a poor diet or crash dieting. Starvation diets or fasting diets that deliberately deprive your body of essential nutrients and much-needed calories can also rob your body of hair. Your skin and body hair are often a barometer for your body’s internal health. If your inner body is not receiving vital minerals and vitamins, it may be expressing those needs through the loss of body hair.
  • De-stress. Hair loss and severe stress are often associated. If you feel overstressed and in desperate need of relaxation (and who doesn’t these days), then you must set aside time each day for full relaxation. This may mean turning off the distractions such as the computer, television and cell phone – and instead unwinding from your stressful day with soothing music, a warm bath and a good book. Ensuring that you are receiving the necessary deep sleep that your body craves is another way to de-stress.

While body hair loss can be frustrating, getting to the core of the problem is the best way to confront the issue.

Brian Johnson MD

Brian Johnson MD

Dr. Brian Johnson is a professor of dermatology. He has conducted numerous research studies about hair loss and it's effects on the human psyche. Dr. Johnson has written for Maclean's, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post.

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