9 Frequently asked Questions About Hair Loss

Answers to various questions about hair shedding, thinning hair, brittle hair, and hair care tips!

Hair loss can be frustrating and quite frightening for those experiencing it, while it is pretty normal to shed a few strands of hair daily, excessive shedding can be a cause for concern.

If you’re noticing more hair on your pillow in the morning, or too much hair in your brush or shower and you are wondering if that is hair loss, or why are you suddenly shedding more hair there are a few things you need to understand about hair loss. Here are a few concerns that many people may have about their hair, along with a few tips and solutions.

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1:  Normal shedding versus hair loss

One of the most frequently asked questions is the difference between normal hair shedding and actual hair loss. Humans shed from about 100 to 150 strands of hair daily, this is relatively normal. Our hair has three phase cycles unlike cats and dogs that shed all their hair at once.

A portion of human hair is always undergoing some shedding, they are referred to as the telogen hairs. They are supposed to fall out and give place to new ones to grow in their place. Excessive shedding of telogen hairs, however, is called effluvium and may occur in a variety of settings, and it's particularly common in individuals who experience a stressful life or medical events, this type of shedding normally occurs three months after the event.

Those events may include extreme weight loss, giving birth, being under a lot of stress like taking care of a sick loved one, a big move, a divorce or losing your job. Also, if you had a high fever or undergone any sort of operation. The starting or stopping of a new birth control pill, crash dieting like juice cleansing or too much exercise, like running a marathon can cause excessive shedding.

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2:  Will the shedding stop?

The shedding usually takes place three months after the event, if it is at all a chronic event, it may persist a bit longer. In general the amount of shedding peaks about four months after it starts and then the body will readjust the excessive shedding, slowing it down until it goes back to normal within 6 to 9 months, making your hair full again and back to normal.

However, if you are under too much stress or are experiencing strenuous events in your life, the shedding can be long lived. People living with constant stress can have long term excessive hair shedding.

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3:  What should you do about it?

The first thing you want to do if you have excessive shedding is to go and see a healthcare provider for evaluation and management, to make sure there’s not an underlying medical cause or vitamin deficiency driving the problem. It’s better to identify what could be causing the issue as soon as possible.

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4:  Hair shedding and telogen effluvium are different from hair loss

Hair loss occurs when something stops the hair from growing back again. The medical term for this is antigen effluvium, antigen is the phase of our hair cycle in which the hair is actively growing. 

The most common causes of this type of hair loss include certain genetic diseases, diseases of the immune system, drugs or medications, hairstyles that pull on the hair and harsh hair care products like chemical straighteners or relaxers also harm your hair. The compulsion to pull one's hair can be a problem as well.

If you are experiencing hair loss, you will continue to have heavy shedding until these issues are resolved. To figure out the cause, and go and see a healthcare provider for evaluation and management to determine if there’s an underlying medical condition and how to treat it.

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5:  Watch out for medicines

Talk to your doctor if you think your hair shedding is a result of the medication you’re taking. However, under no circumstances should you stop taking your meds without getting a professional opinion. Some medications have serious effects if you stop taking them suddenly.

Other causes of hair loss may require treatment, if you have a genetic condition that causes it, you’ll keep losing your hair until you get some treatment for your health care provider. Women who have a hereditary tendency toward hair loss will see a gradual thinning, while men will notice a receding hairline or a bald patch in the center of the scalp.

6:  Could it be more than one thing?

Yes! Some people have a combination of more than one thing, and the sooner you diagnose the causes and remove potential offending agents and begin the treatment, you’ll have a better outcome.

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7:  Hairstyle may affect it!

Depending on what you do with your hair, it can become dull, frizzy, lifeless or cause hair excessive hair shedding.

These are a few things to avoid or minimize usage to have healthier, stronger hair: 

Avoid blow dryers and flat iron tools, the high heat from these equipment dries out the cuticle coating of the hair, which is the waxy coating that protects the hair shaft. Once it is dried out the hair becomes very  and brittle.

Dry the hair gently with a non terrycloth, like a towel or a t-shirt so you won’t ruffle the hair cuticle. Be very gentle on the wet strands.

Try to avoid handling  your wet hair or keep it to a minimum.

Never comb or brush wet hair! It is tempting to comb out the tangles, but they all weed themselves out as the hair dries. If you need to, just simply run your fingers gently through the hair and finger detangle. 

Don’t brush your hair 100 times a day, that actually leads to split ends and brittle hair.

Avoid products marketed as long lasting hold, these should be avoided especially if you use a comb to comb these products through. This can cause the hair to break and lead to hair loss overtime.

If you want to use a flat iron, never use it on wet hair, only on dry hair and on a low setting or you’ll fry the shafts. Don’t do it often.

8:  Don’t tug roughly on your hair

You also should know that some hairstyles are hard on the shaft and the growing hair. That includes tight braids, weaves, cornrows, really tight ponytails and hair extensions. The chronic pulling on the hair can cause it to break. The stress may also scar down the tissue and lead to hair loss in those areas. Loose hairstyles are the best.

9:  Biotin supplements can improve hair thickness

Biotin supplements are known to improve the thickness of your hair, but you need to talk to a doctor before using it. Once you start taking the supplements, you also need to stop heat styling your hair and the heavy blow drying, instead try using a t-shirt tailing and you’ll be good! 

Biotin is a water soluble vitamin and it seems to be fairly well tolerated by most. However, some people anecdotally report that it worsens acne, but it hasn't been reported in medical literature. But take care because vitamin supplements are not regulated, so make sure you get the one that your doctor recommends and by all means, be attentive.

Hair Loss Hair Care Tips