Losing your hair to some degree is perfectly normal. It is basically guaranteed that you will lose at least a few hairs every time you brush or wash your hair.
This is because hair grows and falls out in steady cycles, meaning every day some of your hairs hit the part of the cycle that means it is time for them to rest.
There are times of year when more of your hairs are hitting this part of their natural cycle. However, there is a point when hair falling out becomes more than normal. At this point, you are suffering from either hair loss or hair shedding, and you should know there is a small difference between the two.
What Is Hair Shedding?
Hair shedding is the normal hair that you lose on a regular basis. As mentioned, sometimes more of your follicles will enter the resting stage, which can be concerning when it increases. But shedding is completely normal and is even good for your follicles, giving them a chance to have a break.
More than that, hair shedding can even encompass a few other things as well. For example, stress, prolonged or severe illnesses, and other factors can increase hair shedding. Sometimes severe injuries or hormonal changes can cause this as well. Your follicles can also shed their hairs as an allergic reaction to something that was put on your scalp.
This shedding is temporary and is your body’s way of conserving its energy for other things. Even though shedding of this type can be quite severe in extreme cases, it is only temporary. So, after the stress is removed or the illness is over, your hair will start growing back again in its normal cycle.
That is what makes hair shedding different from actual hair loss. While shedding is temporary and a part of the natural cycle, your hair grows back afterward. With true hair loss, this is not the case. In almost every situation, if you are losing hair quickly, then it is probably hair shedding.
It can take time to be certain but, if your hair is growing back after the shedding – something that will likely take a couple of months to determine – then you are truly just shedding and do not have true hair loss.
What To Do About It
Hair shedding is much easier to treat than hair loss. In fact, the main concern is to remove the cause of the shedding, assuming you are shedding more than you should be. For an injury or sickness, you must recover first before your hair can start growing back.
Stress should be removed as much as possible. If you cannot avoid stress, try relaxing things like yoga to help minimize it as much as possible.
Whatever the cause behind your hair shedding, vitamins and supplements are always helpful and can kickstart your hair to help it get back into its growing phase faster. The hair that grows with the proper amount of vitamins will also be thicker, with thicker individual strands making your whole head of hair seem fuller.
What Is Hair Loss?
Hair loss is not technically when your hair falls out but, rather, when it doesn’t grow back. Or, sometimes your hair will grow back, but it does so with strands of hair that are thinner and thinner until it doesn’t come back at all. These small hairs are given the term vellus hairs.
There are countless causes of hair loss. Most of these revolve around damage of some type to the follicles. One of the main causes of damage is, in a way, starvation of the follicles.
This is most commonly where DHT or some other type of cell binds itself to certain cells in your scalp. The result is that your follicles are cut off as the DHT builds up until they aren’t getting any nutrients at all, and they starve to death to the point where they are no longer able to grow anything.
Though that is the most common, scarring and certain scalp diseases can also damage the follicles. Also, severe deficiencies can prevent your hair from being able to grow back as well until they are resolved. However, it is unusual to have a deficiency that is bad enough to cause hair loss.
In short, hair falling out is perfectly normal, but it is when it falls out without growing back again. Your hair can shed without it being hair loss if it grows back. It can be inconvenient to wait for new growth in order to know which one you have.
However, true hair loss is more often something that you will notice over time and, unless you have some disease or something, you will not likely even notice it at first. This is why people likely to have hair loss at some point should keep track of their hairline.
What To Do About It
Unfortunately, there is not much to be done for hair loss, though there is a multitude of different products for it. First, you should always make an effort to discover the cause behind your hair loss, as there are many different causes.
This will assist you in determining what products and methods to use to help it. For example, in the case of DHT, there are numerous types of products – and even more brands that sell each type – that work to block the DHT from building up in your scalp.
Though these block more from gathering, they regrettably aren’t always helpful in getting rid of what might already have built up. Therefore, they can help, but aren’t really a cure in most cases. That said, certain scalp diseases can be treated and cured, allowing your hair to grow normally as it did before.
An increase in circulation can be a cure in some cases, as this either makes up for the blockage or helps it to be removed. This is why many hair loss treatments encourage circulation. Many others find that increasing your vitamin intake allows for the right about of nutrients to get to your scalp in spite of the poor circulation.
If normal hair products, supplements, etc., don’t work, there are doctors who specialize in hair problems. These doctors can do things like laser treatments and can prescribe prescriptions to help try to reverse the hair loss by allowing you to grow more hair.
There are some cases where treatment of any sort for your hair loss simply has no effect. In these cases, you can still do things like hair transplants or hairline tattoos. Neither of those actually treats your hair loss, but both are options for hiding it.
At What Point is Hair Loss Excessive?
As mentioned, shedding some hair every day is normal. It is telling when hair fall is excessive that can be a problem more often than not. The American Academy of Dermatology clearly says that 50 to as many as 100 hairs lost per day is perfectly normal.
Therefore, it stands to reason that more hair than that falling out per day is something that counts as excessive shedding. However, if this increased hair fall is not much more than 100 hairs and only lasts for a few days or weeks, the loss is likely something that should not be of concern to you.
Fairly common is something known as the ‘pull test’ to see if you should be worried or not. To do this test, first brush your hair as usual. Then, gently separate out a small area of about 100 hairs. Finally, pull on these hairs just enough to feel the tug – not enough to cause yourself pain.
A few hairs will more than likely come out when you do this, but no more than ten or so. If ten or more hairs do come out, then that is too many, and it should be cause for concern.
Hair loss can also be considered excessive if it leaves an area of your scalp uncovered that should have hair. This type most commonly is seen at your hairline on your forehead, with your hairline seemingly going back. However, it can also occur in patches in the middle of your scalp as well, leaving a bald spot.
These last two cases may not have you losing as many hairs overall, but they still count as being excessive since it is visibly affecting your hair. Losing hair in spots is often the symptom of some type of scalp disease.
Why And When To See A Dermatologist
If your hair fall is excessive, increasing, or prolonged, or even if you are simply concerned, you should see a dermatologist about it. A dermatologist will be able to look at your scalp and your symptoms. They will also be able to run tests of various sorts.
These tests will let them know exactly what is going on with your hair, and they will then be able to show you the best options and what you can do about it. They may recommend treatments that you can do yourself at home, or they may tell you that the best treatments are ones that require you to set up appointments for.
One complicated thing is that you may not have considered is that hair can break lower down from the roots. Breakage can put more hair on your brush or in your faucet, but it is technical neither hair loss nor hair shedding as the root stays in place.
A dermatologist is able to tell if you are dealing with breakage, shedding, or hair loss. If you wish, you can get a magnifying glass and look at the hair you have lost. When the root comes out due to shedding, there will be a small bulb or bulge on one end of each of the hairs.
If that bulb is not present, then the hair you lost broke off and did not fall out. This can still be a concern, but there are many simple ways to minimize breakage, which is most often caused by hair products and harsh styling.
At any rate, you should see a dermatologist if you feel the slightest bit of concern about your hair. If they are able to tell you that you are not suffering from hair loss, it will ease your mind.
Hopefully, I have been able to put your mind more at ease. You should also have a better idea as to whether or not you might need to see your dermatologist.
Sometimes the amount of hair you may be losing may not feel normal, even if it is. It certainly won’t help matters any when the length of your hair can affect how much hair you see you are losing. What may appear like you are gradually losing more hair may simply be your hair is getting longer.
With all of the stress going on, more people seem to be shedding hair lately. So, it may take some time to be able to set up an appointment with a dermatologist.
In the meantime, you are not helpless. You can do your best to try things at home to help with hair loss. Even if you think that your hair loss might be caused by medication, there are still things you can do to mitigate it that you can start doing before you talk to your doctor about changing your medication.