How to stop hair shedding

It is not uncommon for men and woman to experience hair shedding, it is normal to lose between 50 and 150 hairs per day, however, when that number becomes higher it may be worth investigating. There are many reasons for hair problems including stress, thyroid issues, male and female pattern baldness

Hair shedding cycle

Scientifically speaking a hair follicle is made up of a few structures. The hair shaft is the part you see that protrudes from the skin. The hair root is the part below the skin which is composed of the Papilla, and bulb which are responsible for nourishing the hair. The hair on the scalp is constantly changing, cells are dividing and the sebaceous glands produce oils to protect the hair.

Hair grows in cycles at a rate of about 0.50 inches per month (1.2cm), and there are three different stages at any one time. Namely the anagen phase, catagen phase, and telogen phase - we will discuss each one seperately.

Anagen Phase
Anagen is known as the active growth phase, in which the root of the hair is dividing rapidly. During this time the hair grows deeper into the scalp and at some stage, a hair bulb will form at the bottom. The hair grows upwards and through the follicle and eventually past the surface. Hair can stay in this phase 2 to 7 years.

Catagen phase
This is also known as the Regression Phase, and about 2.5 percent of hairs are in this stage at any time. Growth comes to a stand still, and a club hair is formed. Club hairs are associated with a hair follicle when it reaches the end of the growth cycle.

Telogen phase
This phase is known as the sleeping phase, almost 8 percent of all hairs are in this phase at any time. It should last about 12 weeks for hairs on the scalp and longer for other parts of the body. About 100 of these hairs are shed every day.

Hair Shedding Causes

When combing your hair you may notice many hairs left behind, as mentioned this is a normal part of the telogen phase. However, Dr. Hanes describes that some reasons for hair loss are more serious and should be investigated.

Telogen effluvium

Hair loss can be colligated to many sources, one reason is Telogen effluvium which can result in more hairs going into the resting phase, and thus causing more hair loss over time. Patients may loose up to 300 hairs per day and this can be rather alarming. Telogen effluvium can be triggered by any of the following

  • Pregnancy: After having a baby hormone levels return to normal and hair loss can result
  • Extreme Stress: Anxiety or any stressful event can lead to Telogen effluvium
  • Drastic weight loss: This can put strain on the body which can trigger this condition
  • Surgery: Any shock to the system can cause your hair follicles to go into the resting phase

Is telogen effluvium permanent?

It is important to point out, that normal hair growth will resume when it comes to Telogen effluvium, it is rare for a case of telogen effluvium to last for longer than a year. This condition does not damage the hair follicle or create any scaring so a recovery is possible.

Hair shedding from female pattern balding

Male pattern baldness does not only affect men, it also affects women. In scientific terms, it is referred to as androgenetic alopecia and usually has a gradual onset. It usually starts out with hair loss around the temples, and over time the hairline recedes to create the classic "M" shape. Hair shedding can also be seen on the crown and some men experience complete balding.

As far as frequencies go
50 percent of men over the age of 50
will suffer from this condition. There is also a strong chance of a woman developing female pattern baldness which often strikes after menopause. A recent study has found a link between the hormone dihydrotestosterone and balding. Androgens play an important part in the male sexual development, and they are also linked to hair growth and sex drive. Scientists continue to study how the androgen receptor gene may be linked to balding scalp.

Rogaine is a medical supplement used to treat male and female pattern balding, is has shown success in helping some patients regain fuller heads of hair.

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Thyroid Problems

Millions of men and woman around the world suffer with thyroid problems, when your thyroid does not produce enough of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) you get what is called Hypothyroidism. This can wreak havoc on your body and cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Cold limbs
  • Poor memory
  • Hair loss
  • Shortness of breath
Since hypothyroidism is linked to hair loss it is important to approach your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Depending on the cause, it is treatable using hormone replacement however this can take some time and regular blood work will be needed.

Anemia and Iron deficiency

Some woman can lose a lot of blood during their periods, and without adequate amounts of iron, red blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen to the body - this can then lead to anemia. Most physicians can easily diagnose these conditions and you may experience symptoms like brittle nails, hair loss, headache, and higher irritability.

Iron deficiency
This is caused by any form of chronic blood loss in the body, it can be linked to colon polyps, internal bleeding, heavy periods, ulcers, and even colorectal cancer. Treatment of an iron deficiency depends on the underlying cause, but it generally involves improving the iron levels using supplements.

How to stop excessive hair shedding

There are a few things you can do to stop excessive shedding these include:

Avoid tight hairstyles: Ponytails, cornrows, braids, and anything else that pulls at your roots should be avoided. They create an unnatural strain on your hair follicles and can increase shedding over time. It is advisable to limit these types of hairstyles and use them sparingly.

Over the counter hair treatments:
Be wary of any miracle cures for hair loss, if you do need to use some form of supplement I recommend trying Rogaine contains the active ingredient Minoxidil which can be applied directly to the hair and should help your shedding within 6 months.

Reduce Stress:
Stress is one of the main causes of hair loss, it is a well-known trigger for telogen effluvium, and can lead to other conditions like trichotillomania (pulling out your own hair). After a traumatic event it is normal to experience hair loss, and this can lead to anxiety and worry which only compounds the problem. Try and reduce stress, eat healthily, and exercise regularly to prevent hair loss.

Pregnancy and hair Loss

While pregnancy most women actually have vibrant, thick hair, after pregnancy estrogen levels drop and cause more hair to enter the resting phase (telogen phase). This is known as Postpartum hair loss which simply means more hairs are likely to fall out leading to patchy hair loss. Never fear, your hair should return to normal about a year after giving birth. This is not a golden rule since some women find it takes longer to correct.

How to stop hair shedding after Pregnancy

So what can be done to correct this problem? Well, there are a few techniques you can use to make your hair appear fuller again. The following list should give you some ideas to help combat Postpartum hair loss:

  • Hair Products: Some products like mousse can give you a much fuller look, mousse is known to add volume to your hair, you can also try and use volumizing shampoos.
  • Start taking Vitamins: There are a few supplements that are known to generate ticker hair growth, these include Vitamin B3, Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C, and Zin
  • Exercise and Avoid stress: Stress can actually cause further hair loss, something called Telogen Effluvium
For more tips about PostPartum hair loss, you can read the full article here

Talk to your doctor:
If you are having any symptoms or losing excess amounts of hair it is advisable to speak to a trained professional. They will be able to listen to your concerns and take the appropriate steps to diagnose the problem.


When it comes to losing hair, there are many questions we cannot answer. More studies are needed to establish what causes some of these conditions. Currently, there is no substitute for speaking to a physician since they are able to diagnose and treat conditions using the correct methods.

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