Most of us know the feeling. You carefully style your hair in the morning only to get a sinking sensation in your stomach when you see how many hairs are left on the brush or comb. Or you stand in the shower as the water runs away, looking aghast at the mouse-like ball of hair gathered in the drain, and there it is again, that sinking sensation in your stomach. Most people are aware that some daily hair shedding is normal, but what does ‘some’ look like? When should the hair loss alarm bells start ringing?
This article will take a close look at the difference between hair loss and hair shedding. Keep scrolling to find out more!
Ok, let’s start by pinning down exactly what the ‘some’ normal hair shedding looks like. The American Academy of Dermatologists holds that we lose an estimated 50-100 hairs daily as part of the hair’s natural growth cycle. The figure will vary depending on an individual’s age and gender. Women tend to shed up to 40% more hair every day because of the strain that styling and colouring place on their strands. Women are also more likely to shed hair because of hormonal changes. Pregnancy and menopause, for example, are life events that trigger hormonal imbalances in the female body.
If the hair fall you notice seems to lie within the normal range, you have no cause to worry. There is something like 80,000 to 150,000 hairs on an individual’s head, each of which is at a different stage of the growth cycle; what you are seeing is simply the outworking of the hair’s natural cycle.
The Growth Cycle
The hair growth cycle is divided into three stages. The anagen stage is when the hair grows at a rate of about 1cm per month. Approximately 90% of your hair is in that stage when everything is working normally. The next stage is the catagen phase. This phase lasts two or three weeks, accounts for about 1% or 2% of your hair and is the stage when your hair ceases growing. The third and final stage is called the telogen phase. This is the resting stage that occurs before the hair separates from your head. Just under 10% of your hair is in this phase at any given time.
Hair that falls as part of this natural cycle is hair shedding. The amount can fluctuate from time to time. We’ve mentioned that some haircare routines and hormonal imbalances can cause more than average hair fall. Age and stress are other factors that can make us shed more than the average number of strands. If the hair you shed is over and above these levels, and if it’s resulting in noticeable thinning or bald patches, then you could be into hair loss territory.
Hair loss is not part of the natural hair cycle. It’s what happens when the cycle is disrupted in some way. If this occurs during the growth stage, the hair loss that results is known as anagen effluvium. The main causes of this type of hair loss include infections, medications or drug treatments (chemotherapy being a prime example), toxins and autoimmune diseases such as alopecia areata.
Telogen effluvium occurs at the other end of the natural cycle. It happens when more than 10% of hair is in the telogen phase, which means that a much larger proportion of your hair than usual will fall over the upcoming weeks and months. This condition occurs most usually following a shock, major stress or illness. Post-Covid 19 and post-partum hair loss, for example, are thought to be forms of telogen effluvium.
Permanent or Temporary?
What most people experiencing hair loss will want to know is whether it’s permanent or temporary. The answer is that it varies. Telogen effluvium is usually temporary. While it is a distressing condition, the chances are your hair will grow back within a few months once the source of your illness or stress has disappeared.
Things aren’t so straightforward with anagen effluvium. Some forms of this are temporary; once you’ve finished chemotherapy, for example, your hair should grow back. If you’re experiencing alopecia areata, however, you may not be so lucky. It might be a case of trying to slow down or manage your hair loss rather than hoping your hair will regrow.
Worrying about hair loss is wasted energy when there’s a positive alternative close at hand. Getting your hair checked by an expert in the hair restoration business will put your mind at rest. You may find you’ve been stressing yourself unnecessarily, but if you are experiencing hair loss, then you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to tackle the problem.
Vinci Hair Clinic offers a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients. This can take place in person at one of our clinics or by using photographs on WhatsApp. Simply get in touch and make an appointment!