Most women have experienced the stress of hair loss, which manifests itself either as shed hair everywhere around the house or even as hair thinning. While we use the terms hair loss and hair shedding interchangeably, there are some significant differences between them.
Hair shedding is a natural phenomenon that everyone with hair goes through, but hair loss is a totally different issue that arises if the hair has been miniaturized, which may be caused by DHT or other factors. Hair loss means that the follicles have become affected, and there is minimal regrowth, so it can cause severe damage if not dealt with correctly.
Before I go into the details of these two processes, let’s take a look at the hair growth cycle to better understand the whole scenario.
The Hair Growth Cycle
Hairs are an appendage of the skin, and they consist of an external and an internal part. The outer hair is what we usually see on the scalp and body, but the inner part is where the magic happens. Our skin contains multiple follicles that form the hair’s root, and these roots are richly supplied by blood vessels and nerve endings. These blood vessels are necessary to nourish the root of the hair.
Hair grows on the body in a few stages, and it is natural for hair to fall out as part of the growing process. These stages are called Anagen, Catagen, Telogen, and Exogen, and most hairs are at a different stage of development than their surrounding hairs. I want to detail a little about these stages because it will really help you to understand the difference between hair loss and hair shedding, so let’s get into it!
The first stage is the Anagen, which is the active growing phase. This phase lasts between 2 to 7 years, and the longer the Anagen, the longer the hair length will be. Anagen starts to decrease with each progressive hair cycle, and as the size of Anagen reduces, the hair gets thinner and weaker.
After this, the hair enters into the Catagen phase, which is a transitional stage before Telogen. During Catagen, the hair follicle starts to shrink, and it will detach itself from the dermal papilla. The whole process happens in 10 days. Once Catagen is over, hair enters the resting phase called Telogen that typically lasts around three months. At any given time, approximately 10-15% of your hair is in the Telogen phase.
Once Telogen is completed, and the hair has been resting for a few months, the old hair starts to shed to make room for new growth. It is in this stage Exogen that you shed most hair, and it is completely normal to lose up to 100 hair in a day.
What is Hair Shedding?
As the hair grows, it is normal to see some hair fallout as part of the natural hair growth cycle. Even losing 100 hair per day can cause anxiety and cause you to worry, but this hair loss is totally normal. This process is called Telogen Effluvium, and shedding in Telogen is part of a hair’s ordinary course of action before a new cycle can begin. Factors like stress and rapid weight loss can precipitate hair shedding.
Even though it is a natural process, hair shedding during Telogen is still stressful for women and a pillowcase covered with broken hair is enough to send her into deep thought. If you are also experiencing this, I have good news for you! Hair shedding is a harmless process that only affects hair already in Telogen, and there is no risk of the hair loss being permanent. Also, only about 10% of our hair is in Telogen at once, so hair shedding is controlled hair loss that stays temporarily and reverses quickly.
What is Hair Loss, and how is it different from shedding?
While shedding is a benign condition, hair loss is a different story. Hair loss, also called Anagen Effluvium, is the stage where hair has stopped growing in after hair falls, and it manifests as thinning hair and bald patches that continue to worsen with time. Causes of hair loss are different than simple hair shedding and may include hereditary factors, immune problems, chemotherapy, or overuse of heat styling tools.
Most women experience hair loss due to genetic factors that leave their hair more susceptible to DHT. DHT is an androgen that acts on the hair follicle and causes it to shrink and minimize over several months. With continuous exposure, the follicles become weaker and weaker, and after a certain time, they stop growing altogether. This can be a devastating situation for women.
Fortunately, for hair loss or thinning caused by DHT, there are a number of shampoos, conditioners and serums that contain ingredients, such as caffeine, green tea extract, saw palmetto, pumpkin seed and more that can help block the problems caused by DHT when applied to your scalp. One line that many women have reported significant improvements witb is the Hair Restore line from Hair Restoration Laboratories. It has developed a line of DHT blocking shampoos and other topical products to prevent hair loss and thinning and promote thicker looking hair.
If you are experiencing rapid hair shedding for more than six months and your hair has become visibly thinner, it’s time to see a licensed professional. A dermatologist will assess the situation and give you the appropriate medication to block the effects of DHT or other causative factors, which will help stop the process in its track! So don’t worry, because, with the appropriate measures, you can eliminate hair loss and get your lustrous mane back.
Hair fall is a stressful experience to go through, regardless of its hair loss or just some regular shedding. Several underlying problems like age, stress, medications can cause hair fall. Still, you can combat this problem by taking a balanced diet and incorporating some form of physical activity into your routine. Keep in mind that if your pillowcase is filled with hair every day or if you can’t seem to keep your hairbrush clean from hair, you are probably suffering from hair loss, and it’s best to contact a dermatologist right away.