As you get older it is natural to view a few extra hairs on your pillows with suspicion. Shedding is perfectly normal, but when does too much shedding turn into something worthy of your concern? Understanding the difference between shedding and hair loss comes down to a few key factors: knowing how much hair is usually lost through the growth and shedding cycle, paying attention to patterns, and self-examination of outside factors that may impact your hair follicles' growth. With the following information, LH Hair aims to help you determine whether you are in need of a hair loss treatment or just a little growth stimulating shampoo.
1. Hair Loss and Regrowth Cycle
First and foremost, if excessive shedding has you worried about hair loss, you should be familiar with the natural cycle by which all human hair grows. This cycle is split into three separate phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen. Let's break down each part of the cycle for clarity.
- Anagen - This is the phase during which active growth takes place. The cells in the root divide at a rapid pace, pushing the old hair (also known as club hair) out of the follicle. While in this phase the hair achieves growth at a rate of about 1 cm per month. Your hair remains in this active growing stage for two to six years before shifting to the transitional phase known as catagen.
- Catagen - The transitional phase between the growth and shedding phases only lasts for two to three weeks. Only about 3% of scalp hairs are in this phase at any given time. This is the part of the cycle during which club hairs are formed. Club hairs, having finished growing, are cut off from their blood supply, but remain in place until they are shed. These hairs are also referred to as telogen hairs.
- Telogen - Telogen is also referred to as the resting phase and is typically accountable for 6% to 8% of all scalp hair at a given time. During telogen, the hair follicle is completely dormant while the club hair finishes forming. It is normal for 25 to 100 of these hairs to shed naturally per day. About 100 days after telogen the cycle begins anew.
2. Outside Influences
While it is typical to experience shedding somewhere in the range of 25 to 100 hairs per day, excessive shedding is not unheard of. This type of shedding is often associated with stressors such as change in diet, excessive stress, undergoing a surgical procedure, and even giving birth. It is also possible to exacerbate shedding and cause something resembling hair loss with harsh products and tight hairstyles. Excessive shedding will eventually revert to its normal cycle, but it could last for several months. If you are experiencing an outside stressor that affects the health of your follicles you may see thinner hair overall, but normal thickness is usually regained within 6 to 9 months. Lifestyle factors can greatly affect the health and fullness of your hair, but they are generally temporary and do not result in permanent hair loss.
3. Hair Loss - Look for Patterns
Shedding becomes hair loss when the follicle remains in the telogen stage and stops producing new hair. While this more severe loss of hair can be triggered by stress and diet, it is often linked to hormone disorders, genetics, and autoimmune deficiencies. The easiest way to determine whether you are experiencing excessive shedding or hair loss is by looking for thinning and balding patterns. Typically, hair loss occurs in patches or in particular areas such as the hairline or the crown of the head. The most common kind of hair loss is known as alopecia areata (or androgenetic alopecia). This hair loss is colloquially referred to as "pattern-hair loss" and is characterized by hair loss in a well-defined pattern that typically manifests above the temples. Other forms of alopecia exhibit different patterns of hair loss, but it is usually an obvious change and easily distinguishable from excessive shedding.
Keeping your hair happy and healthy is our main goal at LH Hair so feel free to turn to us with any questions concerning hair loss and hair loss prevention. Contact us today for a hair loss consultation! Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready to help you achieve the best hair of your life.