Are you just Shedding or is it actual Hair Loss?

Noticing more than usual shedding hairs on one’s hairbrush, pillow or when showering can be quite a distressing experience. It is important, however, to distinguish excessive hair shedding from actual hair loss. We normally shed between 50 to 100 hairs per day! Shedding more than this range can be caused by many factors including very stressful events, febrile illnesses, surgeries, giving birth, dramatic weight loss, changes in birth control, among others. The good news is that this excessive shedding, called telogen effluvium, is temporary and as your body readjusts the hair regains its normal fullness within 6 to 9 months.

Unlike hair shedding, hair loss is caused by factors that prevent the hairs from growing. Some commons causes of hair loss include: hereditary factors (androgenetic alopecia), harsh hairstyles or hair care products, immune system overactivity, medications or radiation treatment, hormonal or mineral abnormalities, among others. Determining the cause of hair loss is an important step in providing proper treatment and managing expectations.

If you are noticing thinning hair here are a few general tips:

  1. use a volumizing shampoo
  2. avoid conditioning shampoos or intensive conditioners as they weight down your hair.
  3. use conditioners mainly on ends of hair and not scalp to avoid weighing down your hair
  4. minimize use of flat irons or blow dryers and use them only on low or medium heat settings
  5. avoid “long-lasting hold” styling products
  6. keep brushing to a minimum
  7. avoid hair extensions, braids, ponytails and cornrows as these hairstyles place tension on the hair shaft causing hair breakage and rarely permanent hair loss.

Finally, while thinning hair can be quite distressful, you should not suffer in silence! We advise you consult with one of our board-certified dermatologists who will perform the appropriate evaluation and workup to distinguish excessive hair shedding from hair loss and to further determine the cause of your hair thinning. There are many effective therapeutic approaches which can help many who suffer from thinning hair. The first step is an appropriate assessment by a board-certified dermatologist.

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