Ladies, (and gents?) we all know the feeling of discovering more than usual hair strands in the shower drain or clinging to our hairbrush. I mean one day it's a fabulous hair flip, and the next, it's a mini-hairpocalypse on the bathroom counter, and you wonder if this is the first day of your journey to No-Hairville (And there is nothing wrong with said location AT ALL).
Don't give into the panic yet, Hair shedding is a natural part of hair growth and here, we're about to decode the enigma of hair shedding versus hair loss. Let's dive in...
What Is Hair Shedding?
Hair shedding is a natural and necessary part of the hair growth cycle. On average, a person loses approximately 50 to 100 hairs from their scalp each day. Shedding is often more noticeable during certain times, such as when washing or brushing your hair. Understanding the phases of the hair growth cycle can shed more light on this process:
Anagen Phase: This is the growth phase, which lasts for several years. During this time, your hair actively grows.
Catagen Phase: This is a transitional phase that lasts for a few weeks, where the hair follicle starts to shrink.
Telogen Phase: This is the resting phase, lasting about three months. Hair in this phase is more prone to shedding.
Exogen Phase: This is when hair naturally falls out. New hair begins growing in its place.
The majority of hair shedding occurs during the telogen phase when older hairs are pushed out by new hair. Factors like stress, diet, hormonal changes, and seasonal variations can influence the rate of shedding.
What Is Hair Loss
Hair loss, on the other hand, refers to a noticeable and often excessive reduction in hair density and absence of new hair growth that can be linked to various causes. It is essential to identify the underlying cause of hair loss, as it can be indicative of an underlying medical condition or lifestyle factors. Here are some common types of hair loss in women:
Types of Hair Loss Conditions
Androgenetic Alopecia (Female Pattern Baldness): This is the most common type of hair loss in women and is often hereditary. It typically manifests as thinning hair on the crown and front of the scalp.
Alopecia Areata: This is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out in small, one or more round patches that may overlap.
Traction Alopecia: Caused by excessive pulling or tension on the hair, often from hairstyles like tight braids, weaves, or extensions.
Cicatricial Alopecia: This is a type of hair loss results from irreversible scarring causing hair follicles to be blocked with scar tissue, leading to permanent hair loss.
- Anagen effluvium: A sudden hair loss occurring during the active growth phase of hair follicles, often due to factors like chemotherapy or toxins, damaging rapidly dividing hair cells. While it leads to significant hair shedding, it's usually temporary, with hair regrowth possible once the cause is removed or treatment is completed. It differs from other types of hair loss, such as androgenetic alopecia, which has distinct causes and characteristics.
Differences Between Hair Loss and Hair Shedding
The key difference between hair shedding and hair loss lies in their nature and causes. Hair shedding is a normal, cyclical, and temporary process, while hair loss is abnormal, not part of the regular growth cycle, and often linked to underlying factors that may require attention and treatment.
According to American Academy of Dermatology, this is not actually hair loss but rather an extreme case of hair shedding that occurs when the body undergoes significant stress, such as pregnancy, surgery, illness, or extreme weight loss.
Stress can disrupt the natural hair growth cycle, pushing a significant number of actively growing (anagen) hairs into a resting (telogen) phase. When these hairs eventually re-enter the growth phase, the previously suspended ones in the resting phase are suddenly let go, resulting in excessive shedding.
To find out if your hair loss is the Talogen effluvium kind, check the root of the fallen hair strands for a bulb (Keratin Bulb). If present, then that is a TF hair condition.
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How to Manage Hair Shedding and Hair Loss Conditions
Life changes such as Childbirth, Lactation, stopping/starting Birth control pills cause hormonal changes in women that can increase the level of hair shedding. Here are some steps to take to manage hair shedding and some hair loss conditions;
1. Maintain a balanced diet with essential nutrients like biotin, iron, and vitamins.
2. Minimize stress through relaxation techniques (Such as scalp massages) and a healthy lifestyle.
3. Be gentle with your hair by avoiding tight hairstyles and excessive heat styling.
4. Make scalp care an essential part of your hair routine at least twice daily using topical treatment with agents that stimulate blood circulation in hair follicles and maintain a healthy scalp. Such as Rosemary, and mint.
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5. Consult a healthcare professional for underlying medical conditions causing the hair loss.
6. Use over-the-counter or prescription treatments such as Minoxidil if recommended by a healthcare provider.
In conclusion, understanding the differences between hair shedding and hair loss is crucial for women to address their concerns effectively. While shedding is a natural part of the hair growth cycle, hair loss may indicate an underlying issue that requires attention. By identifying the cause and seeking appropriate treatment, women can work towards maintaining healthy and vibrant hair.