Normal Shedding vs Hair Loss: What it is, Difference & Treatments

normal shedding vs hair loss

Hair shedding and hair loss are two terms often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct processes with different implications for our hair health. Shedding is a natural part of the hair growth cycle, while hair loss can signal underlying issues that may require attention and treatment. 

My name is Emma Wright, your go-to resource on all things hair loss treatments and hair restoration solutions. Today we’ll talk about the elephant in the room – normal shedding vs hair loss.

Hair shedding is a normal physiological process that occurs as part of the hair growth cycle. On average, a person sheds around 50 to 100 hairs per day. This shedding is simply the body’s way of making room for new hair growth.

Each hair follicle goes through three phases: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (resting phase). During the telogen phase, old hairs are shed to make way for new ones.

It’s essential to differentiate between normal shedding and excessive hair loss. Normal shedding occurs evenly across the scalp and does not result in noticeable thinning or bald spots. Additionally, the hairs shed during normal shedding typically have a white bulb at the end, indicating they have completed their growth cycle.

In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between normal shedding and hair loss, explore various causes of hair loss, and discuss treatment options available.

What is Hair Shedding?

Hair shedding refers to the natural process by which old or dead hair falls out from the scalp. It is a normal part of the hair growth cycle and typically occurs as new hair follicles begin to grow.

Shedding is necessary for maintaining healthy hair because it allows room for new hair to grow in its place. On average, a person sheds around 50 to 100 hairs per day.

The hair growth cycle consists of three main phases:

  1. Anagen Phase: This is the active growth phase, during which hair follicles produce new hair. The duration of the anagen phase varies depending on genetics, age, and other factors.
  2. Catagen Phase: In this transitional phase, the hair follicle shrinks, and growth slows down. The catagen phase marks the end of active hair growth.
  3. Telogen Phase: During the telogen phase, the hair follicle rests, and the hair shaft is eventually shed. Shedding during the telogen phase is considered normal and necessary for the renewal of the hair follicles.

It’s important to note that not all hairs are in the same phase of the growth cycle at the same time. Therefore, it is normal to experience some degree of shedding on a daily basis. Additionally, shed hairs typically have a white bulb at the end, indicating that they have completed their growth cycle and are ready to fall out.

While shedding is a natural process, certain factors can influence the rate of shedding, such as changes in hormonal levels, stress, illness, and nutritional deficiencies. However, significant changes in shedding patterns or excessive hair loss may indicate underlying health issues that require further evaluation by a healthcare professional.

What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss, also known as alopecia, refers to the partial or complete absence of hair from areas where it would normally grow. Unlike shedding, which is a natural and temporary process, hair loss can be permanent and may indicate underlying health issues or genetic predispositions.

normal shedding vs hair loss

Causes of Normal Shedding vs Hair Loss

Hair loss, on the other hand, can occur due to a variety of factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, and external stressors.

Some common causes of hair loss include:

  1. Hereditary Hair Loss (Male Pattern Baldness): Also known as androgenetic alopecia, this type of hair loss is the most common cause of baldness in men. It is characterized by a receding hairline and thinning at the crown.
  2. Telogen Effluvium: This condition occurs when there is a significant shock to the system, such as childbirth, surgery, extreme stress, or illness. It disrupts the normal hair growth cycle, leading to excessive shedding.
  3. Alopecia Areata: An autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in patchy hair loss.
  4. Traction Alopecia: Caused by repetitive pulling or tension on the hair follicles, often due to tight hairstyles or hair accessories.
  5. Scarring Alopecia: This type of hair loss occurs when inflammation or injury damages the hair follicles, leading to permanent hair loss and scarring.

Hair Normal Shedding vs Hair Loss

Hair shedding and hair loss are two distinct processes that involve the loss of hair from the scalp, but they differ in their causes, characteristics, and implications for hair health.

Hair Shedding

Hair Loss

Hair shedding is a natural and necessary part of the hair growth cycle. It occurs when hair follicles reach the end of their growth phase (anagen) and enter the resting phase (telogen). During this time, the old hair shaft is released from the follicle and falls out, making room for new hair growth. Hair loss, also known as alopecia, refers to the excessive or premature loss of hair from the scalp. Unlike shedding, which is a natural process, hair loss can be a sign of an underlying health issue or genetic predisposition.
On average, a person sheds around 50 to 100 hairs per day. This shedding is evenly distributed across the scalp and does not typically result in noticeable thinning or baldness. There are different types of hair loss, each with its own causes and characteristics, including androgenetic alopecia (male and female pattern baldness), telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, traction alopecia, and scarring alopecia.
Shed hairs often have a white bulb at the end, indicating that they have completed their growth cycle. The shedding process is gradual and occurs over time, with new hairs replacing those that are shed. Hair loss may occur in specific patterns or areas of the scalp, such as a receding hairline, thinning at the crown, or patchy bald spots. The extent and distribution of hair loss can vary depending on the underlying cause.
Hair shedding can be influenced by various factors, including changes in hormonal levels, stress, diet, seasonal changes, and hair care practices. However, shedding is usually temporary and self-limiting, resolving on its own without intervention. Hair loss can be triggered by factors such as genetics, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions, stress, medical treatments (e.g., chemotherapy), nutritional deficiencies, and certain medications. Unlike shedding, hair loss may not resolve spontaneously and may require medical intervention or treatment to address the underlying cause and promote hair regrowth.

Normal Shedding vs Hair Loss Treatment Options

Treatment for hair loss depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.

Some common treatment options include:

  1. Medications:Minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) are FDA-approved medications for treating hair loss. Minoxidil is available over-the-counter and applied topically, while finasteride is a prescription medication taken orally.
  2. Hair Transplantation: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) are two popular methods of hair transplantation. FUE involves harvesting individual hair follicles from the donor area and transplanting them to the balding areas. Sapphire Micro FUE and Bio FUE are advanced techniques that offer improved precision and results.
  3. Anti-Hair Loss Helmets: These devices use low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to stimulate hair growth and prevent further hair loss.
  4. Lifestyle Changes: Maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress levels, and avoiding tight hairstyles can help prevent hair loss and promote hair growth.

Post-Hair Transplant Care

After undergoing a hair transplant procedure, it’s essential to follow proper aftercare instructions to ensure optimal results.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Avoid touching or scratching the transplanted area to prevent dislodging the newly implanted follicles.
  2. Follow a gentle cleansing routine recommended by your surgeon to keep the scalp clean and minimize the risk of infection.
  3. Sleep with your head elevated to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  4. Avoid strenuous activities and exposure to direct sunlight in the days following the procedure.
  5. Use prescribed medications, such as minoxidil, as directed by your surgeon to promote hair growth and prevent further loss.

Conclusion

In summary, understanding the difference between normal shedding and hair loss is crucial for maintaining healthy hair. While shedding is a natural part of the hair growth cycle, excessive hair loss may indicate underlying issues that require attention and treatment.

By identifying the causes of hair loss and exploring appropriate treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps to address their hair concerns and achieve optimal hair health.