What Is Hair Shedding?
Hair-shedding is a normal part of a natural hair growth cycle.
The growth cycle begins with the anagen phase which is the growing phase of the hair follicle. This stage lasts for about 3-5 years. Next comes the catagen phase which is the intermediate phase where the hair follicle’s structure starts collapsing. This phase lasts for between 1-2 weeks. The final phase is the telogen phase which is when your hair sheds or falls, to make room for new hair. This phase lasts for 3-4 months and only about 10% of our hair will be in the telogen phase at any given point time.
A healthy head of hair will shed around 100-150 strands on a daily basis.
If you notice that you are shedding more than the normal amount of hair, it is referred to as telogen effluvium or excessive hair shedding, which, if untreated, can lead to hair loss. You may need medical help to further investigate the problem.
The Difference Between Hair Loss And Hair Shedding
Hair loss and hair shedding are two different conditions. They might look the same but the underlying reasons behind these two hair conditions are completely different.
Hair shedding is a natural and normal process. However, when there is excessive hair shedding, it is categorized as hair loss, which is an abnormal condition. Hair loss occurs when an internal or external factor such as heredity, harsh hair care products, medication, etc., hinders its growth. It is also known as anagen effluvium. Major reasons causing hair loss are heredity, medication, hormonal changes, medical conditions, etc.
Hair shedding usually occurs as a result of some stressful event such as losing weight, pregnancy, recovering from an illness, etc. Unlike hair loss, excessive hair shedding usually stops when its trigger factor disappears.
The terms hair shedding and hair loss are often used interchangeably, but diagnostically, they mean different things. In many cases, excessive hair shedding is a temporary condition. At times, treatments are required.
The easiest way to determine whether you are experiencing hair shedding or hair loss is to give it time. If you notice that hair has stopped growing at certain places for 2-3 months or more, then it is likely a case of hair loss. Hair loss requires medical treatment and it is best to visit your dermatologist for a comprehensive consultation.
What Causes Excessive Hair Shedding?
A number of factors affect the hair growth cycle, causing the hair to shed excessively. Depending on the causes, hair shedding may be reversible. They are:
• Stress – Stress and anxiety can trigger and accelerate hair shedding. By affecting various physiological functions of the body, stress can result in a lack of sleep or appetite. Our body reacts to stress by prematurely speeding up the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. This results in excessive hair shedding.
• Lack of Vitamins – If your diet lacks vitamins and minerals that nourish the hair, then it may also trigger hair shedding. A diet rich in calcium, protein, iron, vitamin D, biotin etc. can help prevent hair shedding. Taking the right vitamins for shedding hair can help you overcome the problem.
• Pregnancy – Pregnancy causes the body to go through multiple changes which result in a hormonal imbalance and this in turn influences the hair growth cycle resulting in hair shedding.
• Illness – Certain illnesses may trigger a hormonal imbalance in the body, leading to excessive hair shedding.
• Weight Loss – During a weight loss period, the body goes through major physiological changes. In certain cases, it can lead to an intense period of hair shedding.
• Post-Pregnancy – It is common for new mothers to experience excessive hair shedding two months after they have given birth. This phase usually lasts for about four months and is just a temporary phase.
• Birth Control Pills – When women stop taking birth control pills, they can experience excessive hair shedding.
Also Read: What Causes Of Hair Loss In Men And Women?
Seasonal Hair Shedding – Myth or Reality?
Many people tend to notice hair shedding in the late fall and winter. During this period, hair shedding in men and women tends to increase. According to medical research, our scalp responds to changes in daylight hours. The longer daylight hours in summers triggers the telogen phase and therefore hair shedding occurs in late autumn or winter. The process is completely normal and can be prevented by taking the vitamins essential for healthy hair growth.
Does Shed Hair Grow Back?
In most cases, shed hair usually grows back. It depends on the stage of the hair growth cycle during which it occurs and the cause behind hair shedding. If hair shedding is within the normal range, it is temporary and the hair will re-grow over several months. In extreme cases, hair might not grow back until preventive measures are taken to stop the hair from shedding.
Treatment for Excessive Hair Shedding
Usually, excessive shedding is a temporary condition but there are certain cases where you will need to consult a dermatologist. In cases where excessive hair shedding is genetic or results in balding, a few treatments can help.
• Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy – PRP Therapy is a non-surgical treatment which uses the patient’s platelets to restore lost hair and stimulate hair follicles to grow hair. The platelets are infused with growth factors and injected directly onto the scalp. This treatment is extremely effective in the regeneration of lost hair.
Also Read: How Much Does PRP Treatment Cost?
• Minoxidil – Minoxidil is a topical solution which can be applied directly on the scalp. It can be used by both men and women. It treats hair shedding by prolonging the hair’s growth phase and preventing some of the hair from entering the telogen phase. Minoxidil can also help in the thickening of hair strands.
• Finasteride – Approved by the US-FDA, finasteride is available in pill form by prescription only. Like Minoxidil, it promotes hair growth at the same time as it puts a stop to shedding. However, it is only suitable for men.
Tips To Stop Excessive Hair Shedding
Here are some tips you can use to volumize your hair
• Maintain strict scalp hygiene. Depending on how oily or dry your scalp is, only wash as frequently as required.
• Consult a dermatologist who can help you choose the right shampoo and conditioner based on the quality of your scalp.
• Do not tie your hair immediately after washing your hair as the hair breaks easily when wet. Avoid high-tension hairstyles as it can lead to traction and irreversible hair loss.
• Avoid hair breakage. Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle curly hair.
• Do not go on quick weight loss diets or crash diets as they can also trigger hair shedding.
• Avoid colouring or straightening your hair frequently. If you must, make sure you keep a gap of 2-3 months between each treatment.
• Air dry your hair after a bath. Excessive blow drying, especially with hot air, can damage hair quality. If it is unavoidable, use your hair dryer on cool mode.