No one wants to lose his or her hair. A head full of hair represents youth, health and vitality. As a result, we closely monitor the hair in our brushes or combs, what’s on the floor and in the drain after we detangle our hair. But, is there a such thing as too much hair shed, and how can you tell the difference between the natural shedding of hair strands, hair loss and excessive breakage?
The resting phase, or shedding phase of the hair cycle is called telogen. When hairs are in the telogen phase shampooing, combing, brushing or manipulating the hair in any way will cause hairs to fall out. These are the hairs we see on a daily basis and this is natural. It is important to remember that if you only shampoo your hair once to twice a week or don’t comb it frequently, several hairs will be lost simultaneously when you finally do. A telogen hair typically has a club shaped bulb on the end of it. This bulb is an indication the hair strand has gone through a complete hair cycle and was ready to come out.
When the hair shedding is significantly and persistently above average and the density of your hair decreases to the point where your scalp becomes visible, this is a sign of hair loss. Consequently, there may be systemic reasons causing your hair loss. Some of these causes can be stress, illness, medication, nutritional deficiency, hormonal fluctuations or autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata.
Typically, hair loss caused by medications, illness, stress and nutritional deficiency can be reversed. Once the body is back in balance, medications no longer have to be taken and proper nutrient intake is restored, you will see some hair growth. Scarring alopecia, such as traction alopecia (when the hair is pulled to tightly) results in permanent hair loss and unfortunately hair will not grow back. At this stage of hair loss it is important to preserve the hair you do have by choosing styles and products that will maintain healthy hair and scalp and make you feel comfortable, confident and beautiful.
Another form of apparent hair loss is a result of fractures in the hair shaft or hair breakage. This type of loss is normally associated with mechanical and chemical trauma that has created weakness in the hair shaft. This includes aggressive brushing and combing, tight braids, hair weaving, the application of heat with hot combs and blowdryers, relaxers and tight ponytails. Examination of the hair in this case of hair loss shows small nodes seen as grey-white or yellow specks on the affected hair shafts. The hair tends to break at the sites of the nodes, leading to patchy or diffuse hair loss. To correct this form of hair loss, you must cut the damaged hair off and transition to a style that will create less stress on your hair shaft. It is also important to make sure you are getting the appropriate nutrient intake, because this can lead to weakened hair shafts as well.
Hair loss can be scary, but the best way to find solutions and to correct the problem is to seek help early. Early diagnosis of your hair loss will increase the chance of you seeing regrowth. If you are uncertain about your hair loss or hair thinning schedule a Hair and Scalp Assessment, and we can assist you with determining the cause of hair loss and offer recommendations.