If you panic when you notice how much hair breakage you experience in the shower or when brushing your hair, you are not alone! Many people become concerned and ask the same question – why does my hair shed so much?
Hair shedding is a common occurrence. There are some triggers that can cause excessive hair shedding, regardless of your type of hair or age. In fact, you’ll learn that there are many causes for hair shedding.
A Healthy Hair Cycle
It is important to understand the hair cycle and normal hair regrowth. This helps you determine if you are experiencing temporary hair shedding, hereditary hair loss, or permanent hair loss. There are three stages of the growth cycle occurring at any given time.
Anagen Hair: These hair follicles are deeply rooted, and they grow for 2-7 years. They are difficult to remove and will not come out easily when brushing your hair. The majority of the hair on your scalp is anagen.
Catagen Hair: These follicles are weaker than anagen follicles, as the roots have begun to retract into the hair shaft and are no longer growing. They make up 1% of the hair on your scalp.
Telogen Hair: The telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. They are the weakest hairs and have a shortened root system within your scalp. Telogen hairs are superficially secured into your scalp and account for 6-10% of your hair. Telogen follicles shed first and are often called resting hairs.1
Is Hair Shedding Normal?
In short – yes! According to the American Academy of Dermatology, normal hair shedding is 50-100 strands of hair each day. In normal hair shedding, you are primarily losing your telogen hairs. This is normal – even for healthy hair.
It’s perfectly normal to see some hair fall on your sweater, or in your towel after a shower. And there are periods in life when hair shedding is higher. The medical term for temporary excessive shedding is telogen effluvium.2
How to Identify Telogen Effluvium
Telogen effluvium is a temporary increase in hair shedding. This shedding involves losing the telogen hairs, and often triggered by a change in lifestyle, hormones, or diet.
If you see noticeable hair thinning and bald patches at the top of your scalp, this could be telogen effluvium.
If so, it is not permanent hair loss. Normal hair growth should resume over time with gentle hair care.3
Only a dermatologist can determine which type of hair loss you are experiencing. Consult your doctor if you notice sizable hair loss or lots of “dead” hair or loose hair falling from your brush.
Causes of Telogen Effluvium
As it turns out, there are several common causes of telogen effluvium. It is important to consider your habits and life changes if you notice hair thinning or a significant loss of hair.
Some common triggers are:
- Hormones: Due to a large change in hormones, postpartum hair loss is common. Telogen effluvium is also common in women during menopause, and when transitioning off of hormonal birth control pills. Eventually, hormones will balance out.4
- Iron-Deficiency Anemia: Also a cause of female pattern baldness, low iron levels cause your body to struggle to maintain healthy organ function. This shift causes all other functions (like hair growth) to stop, so your body can conserve strength.5
- Change in Diet: If you dramatically reduce how many calories you’re eating, you could begin losing hair. A major change in diet can also affect the clarity of your skin. To avoid hair loss, try increasing your daily calories and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.6
- Seasonal Cycles: Like a dog losing their undercoat in the spring months, all hair loss occurs in cycles. If you notice a major hair loss that does not align with the seasons, a dermatologist might help determine the cause.7
- Heat Styling: If you regularly curl or straighten your hair with heat tools, damage and breakage typically occur. Blow drying hair on high heat can have a similar effect. One way to improve hair health is to use a diffuser what blow drying. This attachment can diffuse hair and heat when blow drying, to lessen the impact of the heat on your hair.
Hair Loss vs Shedding
Alopecia is hair loss. When it comes to hair thinning vs hair loss, there are many kinds of alopecia to consider. If a dermatologist determines that you’re experiencing hair loss from alopecia, it can affect your skin, hair and scalp. The next step is to decide what type of alopecia it is.
This autoimmune condition causes bald spots. It occurs when your immune system attacks your hair follicles. This type of hair loss can happen anywhere on your body.8
This is also known as male or female pattern baldness. It involves permanent hair loss in people who have a genetic predisposition to it. Androgenic alopecia causes a receding hairline in an “M” shape on the temples in men, or thinning at the center part in women.9
This type of hair loss is caused by repetitive tension placed on the hair follicle. It usually occurs at the hairline. To avoid traction alopecia, don’t wear a tight ponytail or braid. Instead, wear your hair loose.10
It is important to consider alopecia as a possible issue if you don’t notice regrowth after losing hair.
Hair Shedding Is Normal
It’s easy to panic when you notice your healthy hair is thinning a bit. But remember: your hair will regrow many times during your life. Trust this natural hair cycle of shedding and regrowth. And again, if you’re concerned about hair shedding, talk to your doctor.
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