Hair shedding is a continuous cycle where 30 to 100 strands a day fall and regrow. Hair loss on the other hand is when something prevents the hair from growing back.
Hair loss can happen for many reasons ranging from, most common genetic pattern baldness, severe stress, abuse of hair from hair styling to side effects of medication for example - chemo.
Excessive Hair Shedding – Telogen Effluvium
When normal hair shedding exceeds the usual daily 50 to 100 strands, it is excessive shedding and the medical term for this condition is called Telogen Effluvium
Common reasons for excessive hair shedding are
- Weight loss of more than 20 pounds
- Stressful situation – Pandemic, job loss, loss of loved one, divorce…
- Illness - High fever, surgery, recovering from illness, anemia
- Mental Health – Depression, Anxiety
- Females – Childbirth or stopping birth control
- Nutrition – Not eating a balanced, nutrient rich food, junk food, malnutrition
But, in the case of excessive hair shedding, it will stop after the stressful event is over on its own. Reversal will depend on age and severity, among other factors.
If concerned, or hair shedding persists one can consult a dermatologist to determine if treatment is necessary.
Covid has demonstrated how a persistent pandemic is stressful, both mentally and physically. The restrictive lock downs, and other insecurities are causing excessive hair fall as much as by those recovering from Covid illness.
Online search for excessive hair fall has been rising steadily since a year ago.
Hair loss - Anagen Effluvium
Hair loss is different from hair shedding, since the hair is stopped from growing. Medical term for such hair loss is Anagen Effluvium.
Common causes of hair loss are
- Hereditary – Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) or Alopecia Ariata, Females suffer from pattern hair thinning.
- Side effects from drugs and treatments.
- Extreme hair styling that pulls and stresses the hair, and excessive heat.
- Using hair care products with harsh chemicals.
Hair loss can only be reversed when the underlying cause is addressed. Be it genetic or a side effect from drugs.
Hereditary Hair Loss
Many people who have hereditary hair loss continue to lose hair without treatment. Being the most common cause of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia can be stabilized by being proactive and starting treatment before hair loss starts.
Treatment can start as a preventive measure in the 20s or earlier, which stops the miniaturization of the hair shaft and extends the growth phase or anagen phase.
Finasteride & Minoxidil are very effective in countering male pattern baldness which is genetic and runs in families.
Men who have hereditary hair loss tend to develop a receding hairline or bald patch that begins on the crown and extends.
A woman who inherits the genes for hereditary hair loss may notice gradual thinning.
Hair Loss from Abuse & Side Effects of Drugs
Hair loss from extreme hair styling, involving pulling, knotting, harsh chemicals for perming, coloring etc., can be reversed first by stopping and resting the hair. Mild shampoos, herbs, nutrition all help to reverse such hair loss.
People who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments often lose a lot of hair. When the treatment stops, their hair tends to regrow.
If you suspect that a treatment or drug is causing your hair loss, talk with your doctor. Serious side effects can occur if you immediately stop a treatment or drug.