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Maybe you’re noticing more hairs in your brush or more strands shedding while you shower. This could be a sign of trouble for anyone, regardless of whether they have blocked drains. Hair shedding — losing roughly 100 strands a day — is completely normal and occurs as part of the natural hair growth cycle, according to Dominic Burg, a hair and scalp specialist called a trichologist who’s the chief scientist at Evolis Professional.

If you’re having trouble deciding what’s “normal” and what may be a concern, keep reading.

Normal hair shedding vs. serious hair loss

Hair loss can be panic-inducing, but it’s different from hair shedding.

“Hair loss is generally characterized by a significant change, disruption or dysfunction in the hair growth cycle,” explained Burg, whose company sells hair-care products. “This can happen for a variety of reasons, including genetics, age, diet, hormonal changes, lifestyle and life events, as well as inflammatory pathologies.”

On the other hand hair shedding is determined by the fact that each hair has its own hair cycles. Because they aren’t synchronized with each other, you won’t shed them all at once, but rather, at a rate of about 80 hairs to 120 hairs a day, Burg explained.

If you tend to wait a few days between hair washes, you may notice what may appear to be excess hair shedding, but that’s actually not a sign you’re losing hair.

“If you haven’t washed your hair for a few days you’ll have some hairs that have been released from the follicle pore or shed from the scalp, but are still present on the head — either tangled up with other hairs or just very loosely connected to the scalp,” Burg said. “The longer you wait between washes, the more hair will build up like this, so that when you do finally wash, it may look like you’re shedding a lot at once. But you’re actually just releasing a proportion of a few days’ worth of shedding.”

Where things get worrisome, however, is if you’re noticing that you’re losing more than the normal amount of daily hair shed. Thankfully, you don’t have to individually count the hairs to figure this out.

There are many types of serious hair loss depending on their cause. Alopecia areata, an inflammatory and autoimmune form of hair loss, is a serious condition that occurs when there’s a loss of large numbers of hairs at once, presenting itself as round bald patches on the head, Burg said. If you notice that you’re losing hair on other areas, such as your eyelashes or eyebrows, this could be a sign of alopecia universalis.

Did you know your hair is most likely to be thickest in the month of July?
PeopleImages via Getty Images
Did you know that your hair tends to become thicker in July?

While not as severe, there are still other types of hair loss that warrant your attention. Hormonal hair loss is an example. Gretchen Friese, a trichologist, said that usually the hair falls on the temples or crown of the heads. This is usually temporary.

Another form is diffuse hair loss, which is when the scalp starts to show through the hair all over the head, said Friese, who’s certified by BosleyMD,It sells hair-regrowth products.

This can be stress-induced, isn’t usually associated with itching or burning, and the shed is usually self-limiting (meaning, it only lasts a month or two), Burg explained.

Covid-19 and stress-related hair loss

During the COVID-19 pandemic, stress-related hair loss rose in 2020. While studiesResearch has shown that COVID itself can cause hair loss of about 20% of peopleFriese stated that the most likely reason people have lost their hair is because they contracted the virus from prolonged illnesses and high fevers.

“Staying home, financial issues, home schooling, being away from loved ones, fear of becoming ill, and social restrictions are some of the reasons that people are feeling more stress right now — and stress can be a huge reason for hair loss,” Friese said.

However, it is possible to manage the panic caused by pandemics. You can find more information here. Sharleen St. Surin-Lord, a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in hair, it’s important to incorporate mind, body, lifestyle and gut health into the management of skin and hair conditions.

“I advise my patients in high-pressure positions or situations — and those who suffer from anxiety — to meditate one to two times daily, listen to ocean waves, and practice deep breathing techniques,” St. Surin-Lord said. “I also recommend going for walks for fresh air, and when necessary, send a referral to a psychiatrist.”

Seasonal hair loss

No, you’re not imagining it. The hair shedding that you’re noticing at the onset of fall and winter could actually be related to the season. Friese says that some hairs may shed at the beginning of fall and winter. studiesOur July telogen or resting phase has shown us to have the most hairs.

“Hairs in the telogen phase will generally fall out about 100 days after entering that stage, which means that people may see more shedding toward the end of summer and into the fall,” Friese said.

“The idea behind ‘seasonal hair loss’ is that during the summer months, we hang on to more hair to provide increased protection from the sun. We then shed those hairs to make room for thicker hairs to grow in winter,” Friese explained.

Burg explained that the body may also be preparing to grow new hairs around the scalp in winter. If this happens, hair can start to fall.

When should you visit your doctor?

Essentially, any time there is loss of large quantities of hair that’s unexplainable (for example, you’re not postpartum or undergoing chemotherapy), you should pay a visit to your doctor.

St. Surin Lord stated that red or pustule bumps on the scalp or tenderness, or itching intensely, all require immediate attention from a dermatologist. These signs can indicate inflammatory hair loss. They can also lead to scarring that can cause permanent hair loss.

“Early intervention is essential to saving one’s hair in these situations,” she said.

Berg said that there are many treatment options for hair loss regardless of its cause. There are many options, from temporary and cosmetic hair-loss treatments that volumize hair to permanent ones to medication to reverse inflammatory hair loss.


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