We lose hair every day, but do you know the difference between hair shedding and hair loss? In recognition of Hair Loss Awareness Month (August), the experts at Affiliated Dermatology are sharing information on the difference and how to prevent hair damage. 

Hair shedding vs. Hair Loss

It’s normal to shed between 50 and 100 strands of hair daily. Since each person’s scalp has 100,000 hair follicles (or more), losing 100 strands a day doesn’t really impact appearance because most strands are in the growing phase.

Reasons people have excessive shedding:

• Experiencing stress

• Losing significant weight or giving birth

• Recovering from an illness, especially involving a high fever

• Stopped taking birth control pills

As your body readjusts, shedding should decrease and hair should return to its normal or near normal fullness. 

Reasons people have hair loss:

• Hereditary (most common)

• Reaction to prescription drugs and treatments

• Nutritional and auto immune deficiencies (not enough iron or B12, thyroid disorders)

• Tight hairstyles (ponytails, braids and cornrows)

Hair will not grow again until the cause of the loss ends. For example, a person undergoing chemotherapy who loses hair will tend to see regrowth only after chemo stops. 

A dermatologist can help you determine the cause or causes of excessive shedding or loss and suggest treatment options.

How to prevent hair damage:

• Use conditioner after every shampoo.

• Wrap wet hair in a towel (don’t rub it) to absorb water and let air dry when possible.

• If you have straight hair, let it dry a bit before using a wide-tooth comb.

• If you have curly or textured hair, use a wide-tooth comb while hair is damp.

• Use lowest heat setting on blow dryers, flat irons and curling irons and limit their use.

• Wear hair loosely pulled back and use bands designed for hair.

• Wear a professional weave or extension for 2 to 3 months maximum.

• If coloring, perming or relaxing hair, try to stretch time between touch-ups.

• Keep brushing to a minimum: more than 100 strokes each day can cause split ends.