Each strand of hair on our head goes through three phases:
--anagen (the strand is actively growing for 2-3+ years)
--catagen (the strand is converted to a club hair for 2-3 weeks)
--telogen (the follicle is at rest for 3-4 months)
Not all strands are in the same phase simultaneously; most strands are in anagen, a few in catagen, and a few in telogen.
WHAT IS SHEDDING?
Shedding is when club hair falls from the scalp. Unlike broken hairs, shed hairs have a bulb attached at one end. The process of shedding occurs at the end of the telogen phase (i.e., resting phase).
A normal scalp sheds up to 100 strands of hair daily. This number is up to 0.1% of the hair on our heads.
Extreme shedding tends to occur when one is under physiological stress. Under such stress, a disproportionate number of hairs can prematurely enter the telogen phase. At the end of the phase, those same hairs are shed. This extreme shedding is what is termed hair loss.
CAUSES OF EXTREME SHEDDING
According to WebMD, the following are stressors that may cause extreme shedding:
- Being on a strict low-calorie diet
- After childbirth when estrogen levels fall
- Severe illness
- Having a high fever
- Having major surgery
- Severe infections
- Certain medications (e.g., blood pressure medications)
- Thyroid disease
- Nutritional deficiencies (e.g., vitamin D)
- Excess vitamin A
WHAT TO DO?
Determining the exact cause of extreme shedding can be difficult because there may be a lag between the stressful event and actual hair fall. Start by remembering what event occurred 3-6 months prior to hair fall. Additionally, visit a doctor as soon as possible because he/she can help you better determine and address the stressor.
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