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Why is my hair shedding so much? Here's how to put a stop to it

A comprehensive answer to the hair shedding vs hair loss debate.

Written by
Julia Hammond
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 22, 2024
min read
Why is my hair shedding so much? Here's how to put a stop to it
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While there are plenty of famous men rocking the bald look, it can be an uncomfortable moment when you notice your hair beginning to thin.

You might feel too young to be losing your hair or worry about how long you have before it's combover city. Don't worry — not all hair loss is permanent and there are things you can do.

Here's a comprehensive answer to the hair shedding vs hair loss debate, plus popular treatment options that can stop hair loss in its tracks.

What is hair shedding?

Believe it or not, hair shedding is a healthy part of your hair growth cycle. The key is maintaining a balance between hair growth and hair shedding.

On a normal scalp, around 95% of hairs are in the growth phase (anagen). The remaining 5% are in the resting phase (telogen) and these are the hairs you shed. There are also usually a few hairs transitioning between growing and shedding, which is known as the catagen phase.

On average, most hairs grow for 1-3 years before they’re ready to shed [6]. Most people shed between 50-100 hairs per day and this doesn’t impact the health or thickness of their hair [3].

Why is my hair shedding so much? 

Sometimes, hair shedding increases to 200 or more hairs per day. This is known as telogen effluvium and is categorised as excessive hair shedding [3].

The reason for the excess shedding is that too many hairs have entered the resting phase all at once. This means your normal hair growth cycle is altered and your timelines are out of balance, with less hair than usual in the growing phase [6].

One of the most common types of telogen effluvium is postpartum hair loss, which only affects women. For men, hair shedding is more likely to be triggered by excess stress or a traumatic life event. Other potential causes include severe illness, nutritional deficiencies, major operations and autoimmune conditions [6].

Even though it can be alarming, telogen effluvium is a temporary condition. There are no medical treatments for it and the excess shedding often stops on its own within 6-9 months [3].

But, this brings us to an important distinction — while hair shedding is temporary, hair loss is not.

Hair shedding vs hair loss

When you’re losing hair, it may not feel like it matters how or why. But, knowing the difference between hair shedding and hair loss can help you choose the most appropriate treatment. 

Hair shedding

If you notice a lot more hair in the shower drain after shampooing, you might have excessive hair shedding. Hair shedding is usually triggered a few months after a stressful event such as losing your job or rapid weight loss [3].

Most hair shedding stops on its own within 6-9 months. But, if the stressor stays with you — such as a long-term illness — the shedding can last longer. The 2 key factors in hair shedding are:

  • It is usually triggered by a stressful event
  • It is temporary and should clear up on its own.

Hair loss

Hair loss occurs when something causes the hair to stop growing. The medical term for hair loss is anagen effluvium. With hair loss, your hair will not regrow on its own and treatments are recommended to slow down the process [3].

Signs of hair loss include:

The signs of hair loss are often subtle and you may not notice them for months or even years [5]. The key factors to remember for hair loss are:

  • It happens when something causes the hair to stop growing
  • It is permanent and requires treatment to slow it down.

Causes of hair loss

Armed with all this knowledge on hair loss vs hair shedding, you may now be wondering what causes hair loss — and how you can treat it. Let’s start with some typical causes of hair loss.

Stressful life events

This cause is typically associated with telogen effluvium — or excess hair shedding. Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes the downs can hit us pretty hard.

Stressful life events, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one, have been known to cause short-term hair shedding [4].

Genetic factors

Welcome to the big one — the main reason for male pattern baldness is your genetics. Genetic hair loss can be inherited from either the mother's or father’s side, and it can affect both men and women.

This kind of hair loss is formally known as androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness [2].

Male pattern baldness is more common than you might realise; affecting 1 in every 2 men over the age of 40 [7]. Unfortunately, being a genetic condition, there is no real way to prevent this kind of hair loss.

If you inherited the gene, it will happen eventually. But, the good news is that it can be slowed down and even improved with treatments and early intervention is ideal for the best results [4]. So, what causes male pattern baldness? Here comes some science.

You’re probably familiar with the male sex hormone, testosterone. The type you may not be familiar with is dihydroxy testosterone (DHT). DHT plays an important role in hair growth, and hair loss.

When DHT builds up in your hair follicles, it causes them to shrink. The longer this goes on, the weaker your hair becomes and in turn, can cause bald patches. If it goes on long enough, your hair follicle shuts down and stops producing hair altogether [2].

This kind of genetic hair loss follows a predictable pattern. It starts at the temples and with a receding hairline, before moving across to the ‘crown’ or top of the head. The eventual hair pattern is a horseshoe shape — with hair remaining only on the sides and back of the head [7].

Pilot’s clinical hair loss treatment plans help to block the action of the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, which helps to stop hair loss at its root cause.

Vitamin deficiencies

Not getting enough iron, biotin, protein, zinc or vitamin D can contribute to temporary hair loss [1].

Hair loss caused by a vitamin deficiency is not usually permanent and will clear up once you increase your vitamin levels [4].

Alopecia areata

Another type of hair loss that can affect the entire body is called alopecia areata. With this condition, you may lose hair from your head, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, nose and even pubic hair [5].

This kind of hair loss is caused by a malfunction in the body’s immune system — causing it to attack hair follicles [4]. Treatments are available, though spontaneous regrowth has been seen in up to 30% of patients [1].

How can you stop hair shedding?

We realise how confronting and upsetting hair loss can be, which is why we want to help by sharing everything we know about current treatment options.

Treatment options for hair shedding

Treating excessive hair shedding is all about finding and removing the underlying cause [1]. If it’s related to stress or trauma, removing the stressors from your life is often effective.

If it’s a vitamin deficiency, you may consider taking some supplements as recommended by a healthcare professional. The best option is to speak with your doctor or dermatologist about your hair shedding concerns.

Treatment options for hair loss

The good news is that there are effective clinical-strength ingredients available that both put a stop to hair loss and encourage new hair growth.

Our hair loss treatment improves the delivery of vital nutrients to the follicles, while also blocking the hormone which impacts hair growth. And, of those who use these treatments in conjunction, 90% will keep their hair and 66% will regrow it [9]!

Finding time to book appointments with a doctor for hair loss treatments can be hard — and it might not be a conversation you want to have face-to-face — which is where Pilot comes in. After a simple, online consult with our Aussie practitioners, your personalised meds will be on their way to your door in discreet packaging.

Does hair grow back after shedding? 

In most cases of hair shedding, hair regrowth happens on its own. When it comes to hair loss, it depends a bit on how far along you are.

When a hair follicle has shut down, regrowth is not likely — this is why starting treatment early is key. The earlier you get onto the cause of your hair loss, the more opportunity you have to slow it down and stimulate hair growth again.

Hair loss can be quite confronting, especially for young men. It has been known to cause anxiety and depression and impact both self-esteem and self-image [2]. It can be helpful to talk with friends, family or a mental health professional about these concerns.

On a more practical note: you’ll want to be extra careful with sun exposure if you have hair loss. Since your scalp is exposed, you should be wearing sunscreen or a hat to minimise the risks of skin cancer [7]. You may also like to wear a beanie in winter — both for warmth and cover from the winter sun.

How to stop hair breakage

When you’re struggling with hair shedding or hair loss, the last thing you need is for the remaining hair to become weak and brittle. Simple things like skipping conditioner, rubbing your hair dry with a towel, wearing your hair in tight hairstyles, over-brushing and excessive heat styling can cause hair to break [8].

Giving the hair you do have a bit of TLC can ensure it stays healthy and intact. Pilot’s Hair Growth Booster Kit is designed to support healthy hair growth and work alongside any medical treatments.

It’s also a great option for people in the early stages of hair loss — offering a hair care routine that’s scientifically formulated to help support healthy hair follicles.

The kit contains Pilot's Biotin Hair Gummies, which support the fibres your follicles need to grow strong strands of hair as well as a Derma Roller — derma rolling helps activate the scalp's stem cells and stimulate follicles, which in turn can encourage hair growth.

Rounding out the kit is the Thicken Shampoo and Keep Conditioner, which are designed to give your follicles the best start to life with ingredients like saw palmetto, niacinamide, zinc, biotin and caffeine.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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