What Causes Excessive Hair Shedding?
It's perfectly normal to shed hair daily; we all notice it, whether it's in our hair brush, on the floor, or clogging the drain in the shower. It can be a pain, but hey, it's a natural part of life; on average, you should typically shed between 80-100 hairs daily. This might sound like a lot but let's put it into perspective, we all have at least 100,000- 150,000 follicles per head, so that 80-100 losses per day, bearing in mind new hair begins to grow back is nothing to worry about, it's part of your hair growth cycle.
However, if you notice a drastic increase in shedding, that can be a concern. Before we dive into the common causes of hair shedding in greater depth, it's essential to understand the hair growth cycle.
Table of Contents:
The Hair Growth Cycle
The hair growth cycle consists of three stages;
Anagen: growth phase
The growth phase can last anywhere between 3-7 years. During this phase, new hair forms. Typically 85-90% of the hair is in this phase at any given time.
Catagen: transition phase
The catagen phase follows the anagen phase and lasts 1-2 weeks. During this phase, the hair stops growing and detaches itself from the blood supply.
Telogen: resting phase
The resting phase is where the follicles are inactive, lasting around three months. The hair remains in the follicle until a new hair in the anagen phase grows and pushes it out.
Your strands of hair are at different stages, the majority of hair will be growing, some transitioning, and others shedding.
Now that you understand the hair growth cycle, let's discuss excessive shedding. We now know that it's normal to experience daily shedding; however, if you notice a sudden increase, this is medically referred to as a condition called Telogen Effluvium.
Telogen Effluvium is a common condition that causes excessive shedding and hair loss. Studies suggest that this condition often presents itself two-three months after the trigger. Shedding that lasts for less than six months is called acute Telogen Effluvium. Anything beyond six months is known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium. Let us take a look at some of the common triggers.
Stress hormones are released in the body during stressful periods to help deal with the situation. However, if stressful conditions are ongoing, this could lead to excess stress hormones negatively impacting the body in several ways, including hair loss. Ironic because experiencing hair loss can trigger even more stress. So, although it's easier said than done, try not to stress as this will only make the situation worse.
Your diet has a significant impact on the health of your hair and hair growth. Failing to provide your body with the goodness it needs, including foods containing zinc, iron, and vitamin B12 has consequences. You will likely become nutrient deficient, and Studies suggest that nutrient deficiency is a well-known effect of acute telogen effluvium. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy diet.
Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy
The body experiences many hormonal changes during pregnancy, one being that the hair becomes thicker. This is because of a hormone called estrogen, responsible for making your hair grow quicker and less likely to shed. However, after giving birth, the estrogen levels decrease and lead to excessive shedding, also called postpartum hair loss. The shedding will typically occur a few months after giving birth, and although this can be a shock, it is temporary so try not to worry because, as we know, stress also leads to hair loss.
Dramatic Weight Loss
Hair loss is a common side effect of extreme weight loss, but what is the cause? If you have ever gone on a crash or restricted diet over time, you will likely experience increased shedding due to nutrient deficiencies. For those who have undergone surgery, stress the body experiences and the drastic change in diet are all triggers linked to telogen effluvium.
Contraception affects the hormones and can cause an imbalance, influencing the hair growth cycle. Some may experience hair loss while using contraception, and others several weeks or months after. Experiencing hair shedding is linked to various types of contraception, so be sure to seek medical advice to avoid the risk of this occurring.
You are now aware of what triggers telogen effluvium, but other things can also affect hair shedding, such as seasonal shedding. You may or may not have heard of this, but yes, it is real and happens to many of us!
Some studies have found that the highest rate of hairs in the telogen phase occurs throughout late summer and early Autumn. During this phase the hair is resting, therefore, an increase in shedding is noticeable throughout this period. There isn't a scientific reason behind this; however, it is very common, so don't be alarmed.
Many factors contribute to an increase in shedding. We will all likely experience one or more of these factors at some point in our lives. If you notice excessive shedding, seek medical attention to identify the cause. In most cases, excessive shedding is temporary and will resolve itself. However, in extreme cases, you may be prescribed medication.
There are many products in the form of serums and supplements designed to support healthy growth. However, it is important to use a trusted brand.
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