Hairs can both break and fall out. Sometimes both of these come naturally through just everyday wear and tear, but sometimes there are other causes for these happening.
Either way, hairs breaking and falling out is never pleasant to experience. It can really make some self-conscious when they know their hair looks thin. It can even make some people look sickly when their hair gets thin enough, even when they look otherwise healthy.
For these and many additional reasons, it is vital to stop hair breakage and shedding as soon as you can. In both these cases, stopping the loss of your hair is the first step to getting a full, thick head of hair. Sometimes stopping the loss is all you need to do, and your hair will take care of the rest itself.
What Is Hair Breakage?
Hair breakage is damage, pure and simple, and has nothing to do with your hair’s cycles. Think of the strands of your hair like spaghetti noodles – and they are more alike than you might think. Your hair breaks when something either cuts through the strands or forces the cells to part in some other way.
Healthy hair has a great amount of flexibility to it, and even a little bit of stretch. However, some things can take away from this flexibility and stretch, making your hair more brittle. This, of course, makes your strands much easier to break.
Even with the flexibility, if pulled too much or twisted, or any number of other things, it will come apart. Then, too much damage will also lead to your hair breaking, essentially wearing away at the strands a little at a time until they are too thin in spots to hold themselves together.
This damage to your hair can come in many different forms, but we will get to those momentarily. Neglecting and mistreating your hair in any way can cause some type of damage. But let’s look at breakage a little more.
The Causes And Treatments Of Hair Breakage
If you think about all the wear and tear that your hair goes through on a daily basis, it should make perfect sense that a few hairs will break every now and then. Brushing, washing, rubbing your head, scratching your scalp, etc., all wear your hair a little.
Then, tangles and other such things are almost guaranteed to cause at least a few strands to break. That is not even counting the odd things like getting gum in your hair or other things. There are so many odd things that you can do to your hair that can damage it, but here are more common ones.
Hair Products And Styles
Hair products are an obvious cause of damage, especially ones that are full of chemicals. Some chemicals make your hair more brittle, either by making your hair extremely dry or taking something from it or some other way.
Meanwhile, other hair products essentially eat away at some of the layers of your hair. Some do this by stealing some of the nutrients or proteins right out of your hair. Both make your hair strands thinner, with thinner strands being easier to break.
Heat also negatively impacts your hair by making it brittle. If you were to apply a lot of heat, your hair can also burn. If you must use heat, apply a heat protector product to your hair first and use as little heat as possible. Heat will also dry out your hair, so make sure you moisturize it.
Then, certain hair ties are notorious for pulling out or breaking hairs when you remove them. The solution is to wear ties that don’t pull out your hairs, even if these don’t always grab hairs as well.
Other hair accessories can be more or less prone to pulling out your hairs as well. Avoid the ones that seem to tangle your hair and try to choose more gentle ones instead. Speaking of tangles, a good detangler product can help prevent breakage due to this.
Diet can lead to hair breakage as well, especially if you are not getting the right nutrients. Specifically, you need to consume beneficial oils and the things that your hair needs to stay moisturized and flexible.
Water is also needed for moisture. Remember, it is dry and brittle hair that will break more easily. So don’t worry about drying your hair off too quickly either, as some of the water can absorb into your scalp.
What Is Hair Shedding?
First of all, everyone experiences hair shedding every day – even when they don’t see it. Every single day, a certain number of your hairs will fall out of their follicles. Meanwhile, an equal number of hairs will be growing in other follicles.
In your other follicles, there will be some that are growing a strand of hair, and some that are in their resting phase. All of this is normal for follicles and is a part of their cycles. However, even your hair’s normal cycles can get thrown off.
There are many different things that can affect your body that your hair will also react to. The most likely way your hair will react to these is by the follicles letting go of the strand of hair sooner than they otherwise would have.
This results in shedding that is more than just the everyday amount you are supposed to lose. Sometimes only a few follicles are affected, meaning that you barely notice the difference. Other times, your hair can shed in literal handfuls until it seems like you might lose every single hair strand.
Most people don’t really consider the normal everyday hair fall to be shedding, even though it technically is. However, everyone can agree that hair falling out in larger amounts is shedding.
One thing to note about hair shedding is that you don’t always recognize it right away. If you keep your hair in a braid for days, for example, the hairs that do fall out of their follicles during this time will be held in place.
This means you won’t even see that you lost hair until you next brush it. At that point, you will likely have a worrisome amount of hair in your brush, as there will be multiple days’ worth of loss there.
The Causes And Treatments Of Hair Shedding
The good news about shedding is that, in most cases, it is not permanent. Unlike with hair loss, shedding is only temporary, and your hair will often grow back on its own. Sometimes no intervention for your hair is needed at all.
On the other hand, there are definitely some clear cases where hair shedding has a cause, and one that must be treated before you can start growing your hair again. So, let’s take hair shedding and look at some of these causes.
Women are far more likely to have hormonal shedding than men are. Menopause can mess with a lot of things in a woman, including her hair. For this cause of shedding, there is very little you can do. There are hair loss treatments that are specifically made to balance your hormones for this, and these treatments are the best option.
Hormonal hair shedding is also quite common for women who have just given birth. While a woman is pregnant, her whole body is saying ‘grow, grow, grow’ to her, including her hair. This is one of the reasons pregnant women tend to have a glow about them.
Their hair literally stays in its growth cycle the whole time they are pregnant. Then, after the baby is born, the hair cycle catches up with itself. This causes all the hairs that should have entered the resting phase to all fall out almost all at once.
This is called postpartum shedding, and it can be fairly extreme sometimes. In this case, taking vitamins during and after the pregnancy and pampering your hair during both as well can help minimize the shedding.
Finally, perhaps the most common cause of shedding – and the one that affects men as well – is stress. Stress affects your hormones, essentially sending a signal to your whole body that times are tough and it needs to conserve. One way it will choose to conserve is by stopping supplying nutrients to your hair.
Your body knows well enough that you can survive without your hair, so it deems that as unimportant. Your hair won’t grow back until the cause of the stress is removed whether the stress is physical, such as in the case of an illness, or mental, such as work problems or the death of a loved one.
Illness And Medications
Long and/or severe illnesses can certainly cause your body to react the same way stress does. In both cases, all your body’s focus is to repair the damage from being sick and to get you well again. Some sicknesses even affect your hair more directly.
There are a few fungus infections as well that infect your scalp specifically and diseases that affect only your scalp and hair as well. These need diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, though they cause hair loss more so than just hair shedding.
Medications can also cause hair shedding as a type of allergic reaction. There are many medications with the potential to cause hair shedding as a side effect. Even birth control pills can cause shedding, as they do affect your hormones.
While diet can make your hair brittle, it can also cause your hair to shed. Not getting enough of what your hair needs to make your hair will eventually cause your hair to stop growing for lack of having the building blocks it needs.
How To Tell The Difference
Unless you are looking, both breakage and shedding can cause the same appearance of thin hair. There are a couple differences between breaking and shedding that you can look for to help you tell which one you have.
For starters, take some of the hairs you have lost, and then look at both ends of them. If your hair fell out from shedding, one end will have a slight bulb on it. This is the root of your hair, and it is not something a broken-off hair will have.
Hair that has been shed will also most likely be the same length as your hairs from your scalp, but not necessarily. Broken hair is more likely to be half the length of your hair or even less. Speaking of less length, you can also look and see if there are many hairs on your head that are shorter than the rest.
Having a number of hairs that are shorter than the others on your head also very likely means breakage. Areas like the nape of your neck as well as the edges of your scalp have more delicate hairs. Therefore, these are the areas where breakage is most likely to occur.
Also, whatever hairs get pulled on the most for whatever hairstyle you usually wear are going to break more often as well. If you wear hats frequently, this will rub the hairs on the top of your hair. This is particularly true if your hat gets pulled on and off a lot, and it will cause some breakage too.
A little breakage and shedding are perfectly normal, even if it is not something that anyone likes. Excessive hair shedding might require you to see a doctor to figure out what is causing it, especially if it doesn’t resolve itself in a few months.
If this shedding is causing actual bald areas, then you shouldn’t wait to do this. This is why shedding is far worse than breakage. The latter is something that you can and should take care of yourself. You especially want to target your split ends early on.
Split ends that are not tended to will end up splitting further up your hair, causing even more damage until your hair breaks. Remember the fact that the ends of your hair are the oldest parts of the strands and, therefore, the most fragile.
Try to seal the ends with beneficial oils and sealer products. Oils can also benefit your hair by decreasing the chance it will break. Serums and other things help strengthen hair strands as well, as do many other things that have you pampering your hair.
All in all, just be gentle with your hair, even if your hair seems tough and thick. Remember, you can’t unbreak a strand of hair or put the strand back into your follicle once it has fallen out. It is far better to prevent both of these from happening in the first place.
Check out some good products as well, to build up your hair and prevent both of these from happening to your hair.