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What’s the Difference between Hair Loss and Excessive Hair Shedding?

Posted: Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Did you know? It’s normal to shed between 50 to 100 hairs in one day. However, if you are shedding more hairs than that, it could actually be a medical condition called telogen effluvium, or what’s more commonly referred to as excessive hair shedding. Excessive hair shedding is very common in those who have gone through a recent physical change or stressor, including:

  • Losing 20 pounds or more
  • Giving birth
  • Having a high fever
  • Having surgery
  • Recovering from illness
  • Stopping birth control pills
  • Experiencing high levels of stress

Usually, this condition starts about two months after the stressor takes place. As your body readjusts to the stressor, the excessive hair shedding stops and your hair returns to its normal fullness about 6 to 9 months after the stressful event. There are situations, however, where the stressor doesn’t end and, as a result, the excessive hair shedding becomes a long-tern condition. An example of this would be a person who lives under high levels of constant stress.

By contrast, a person experiences hair loss when something stops the hair from growing. The medical term for hair loss is anagen effluvium. There are many causes for hair loss, including:

  • Overacting immune system
  • Drugs or medical treatments
  • Hereditary hair loss
  • Trichotillomania, or hair pulling disorder
  • Harsh hair care products

With hair loss, your hair will not grow back until the cause stops. For example, a person undergoing radiation treatments for cancer oftentimes loses their hair. The hair can regrow once the treatment stops. There are situations, however, where hair loss may require treatment for regrowth to occur. An example of this second type of hair loss situation is someone who is losing their hair due to genetics, or hereditary hair loss. In that case, the person would continue to lose hair without treatment.

Are you suffering from one of these two conditions? Call your dermatologist immediately. Speaking to a dermatologist will help you determine the cause of your hair shedding or hair loss as well as starting any recommended treatment as early as possible for the best results.

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