Don’t panic, there’s an explanation.
Are you experiencing more hair than usual shedding? This can be incredibly stressful, in extreme cases you may notice balding and thinning but even if you don’t – seeing more hair than usual come out in the shower or when you brush it can be a significant source of worry. There are lots of reasons why this can occur, here are a few of them.
You’ve Lost a Lot of Weight
If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight and are feeling healthier, slimmer and closer to your ideal BMI then congratulations! You will have done your body the world of good. Your cholesterol, blood pressure and risk for certain obesity related illnesses have significantly improved.
The problem is, losing a lot of weight can also ‘shock’ your hair follicles and cause a stress response called telogen effluvium. Your hair goes through stages of growth, with the final stage being where it falls out and is replaced by a new hair growing through. With telogen effluvium, more hairs than normal are forced into this stage and you can experience significant thinning. You can tell you’re experiencing this at at the root of each strand of hair you will notice a keratin ‘bulb’. It can be a scary condition as up to seventy percent of the hairs can be lost after around two months after the ‘shock’, however the hair follicles aren’t damaged and within a year your hair should have returned back to it’s normal level of thickness.
It’s advisable to lose weight slowly in most cases, however if you have a lot to lose it’s not always the best option. Meal replacement diets for example (not starvation or crash diets – these never work long term) can allow you to lose weight quickly but in a healthy way. Most people lose a stone a month, which is fantastic but can have some downsides such as loose skin and short term hair loss. If losing weight over a shorter period works well for you as you need those results to stay motivated, be aware that hair loss can occur. However the health benefits of reducing a high BMI are usually worth it. If you have a lot of hair or very thick hair, you might not even notice much of a difference. Plus it does not occur in every case so you might not experience any hair loss at all.
It’s The Time of Year
During the autumn it’s not just the leaves that are falling from the trees. Hair fall is more common too. During the spring and summer when there’s more sunlight, hair growth flourishes. It’s suggested that this increased hair provided an advantage in our ancestors since it provided protection from the sun. In the colder, shorter days of autumn and winter more hair goes into dormancy and so if you’re noticing more hair falling out than usual don’t panic. It’s a natural process, and in most cases you won’t notice any significant thinning.
Hormonal changes can lead to hair fall, particularly those which cause an increase in male hormones. In conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) the body releases excessive testosterone which converts to DHT which is the hormone which cause male pattern baldness in men. As a result women can experience hair loss in a similar way, which is around the crown of the head. Getting diagnosed by your doctor is important, they may be able to prescribe medication to balance hormones which can help to relieve these symptoms.
Things such as capillus low level laser therapy hair treatments have been shown to be effective in this case too, with lasers increasing cell metabolism and the health of blood vessels in the scalp which can help with both male and female pattern baldness. There are also both tablets and topical treatments which have been shown to be useful in some milder to moderate cases so it’s worth looking into this if you’re showing signs.
Act quickly, as over time the hair follicles can shrink so much that they’re unable to ever re-grow hair. But in lots of cases, early treatment of male and female pattern baldness can be slowed down or reversed to an extent. Hair transplants are also effective here, this is because only the top of the head is affected so hair can be taken from the sides and back of the head to fill it back out.
It’s Due to Your Diet
Finally, our bodies really are finely tuned machines. When one thing is lacking when it comes to nutrition it can have strange effects elsewhere. The cells in the hair need a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, iron, vitamins and minerals. Red meat is particularly important here since it’s a source of ferritin, a stored iron which can help the body produce hair cell protein. Since women lose iron through menstrual blood they’re especially prone to this – vegetarians, vegans and anyone who omits red meat from their diet can be affected.
Since red meat in excess should be avoided due to the high saturated fat content, in moderation it’s a fantastic source of iron which is useful for hair growth as well as other uses in the body such as red blood cell production. Eating a balanced, varied diet and taking a multivitamin can help keep everything in your body balanced and working correctly.
Biotin and folic acid supplements have also been shown to increase the growth and strength of hair too so these are always worth adding into your diet. Every woman of childbearing age should take folic acid, this is because if you do become pregnant even accidentally this vitamin can prevent serious birth defects. As it should be taken early on and most women don’t find out they’re pregnant for a few weeks, it’s worth taking it as a backup option. You could take it with a multivitamin or take a multivitamin with folic acid included.
Main photo cred – Weheartit