You might have noticed significantly more hair on your hair brush in the autumn months, especially around October and November – know that you are not alone. Not only shifts in temperatures that causes that, but also some evolutionary and hormone-related factors that comes into play for hair shedding in fall. So what exactly happens in fall that leads you to lose more hair?
How much hair is “normal” to lose?
Humans tend to shed between 50 and 100 hairs every day, a direct result of the hair growth phases. A typical strand of hair has a life cycle of between 24 and 72 months (2 and 6 years) during which time it will grow normally. However, around 10 per cent of your hair may be in a “resting” phase (known as telogen), at which point the hair falls out. But hair doesn’t fall out as soon as it enters the “resting” phase – in fact it takes some time to leave the follicle, namely 3 months (90-100 days).
Hair loss peaks in early fall
Studies show that humans experience slightly higher rates of telogen during the summer months of July and early August. Therefore the affected hairs are leaving their follicles 90-100 days later. This falls around mid October to November, also known as hair shedding in fall or “autumn shed”.
Exactly why this happens is unclear, but some suggest that stress brought on by summer heat on your scalp may provide some explanation. But some scientists put forward an evolutionary hypothesis of our primate ancestors needing to “change the fur” ahead of the colder winter months. Your hormones and endocrine (hormone secretion & regulation) system are also fluctuating with the changes in seasons – with some studies reporting lower activity of your thyroid which can result in changes in hair growth patterns in late summer and fall.
Lifestyle factors of losing hair in fall
Another factor plays into this is lifestyle. Although you might have spent your summer relaxing, in a way some of these changes in your behaviour, might have actually put you under stress. Think about caring for your kids that are out of school for the summer, navigating planning and getting to your vacation destinations, eating unfamiliar foods when you’re away, not sleeping as much, drinking more “cocktails by the pool” and “beers in the sun” than usual. All those can finally catch up with you and your hair health by the time autumn comes.
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To top that, as fall approaches, not only your hair loss might have increased but the hair growth rate has also slowed down. The graph below shows, as the summer ends – the amount of hair in anagen (growth) stage decreases:
What to do to stop hair shedding in fall
To support your hair growth in fall months, ahead of the winter season – it’s important to restart your regular regimen of caring for you and your hair ahead of winter months:
- Take your vitamins – usual A-Z that you can get at any drugstore to support your hair growth from within
- Ensure you continue taking sufficient amount of fibre through fruits & vegetables – as well as protein, necessary for your scalp to growth healthy hair
- Develop a scalp care regimen that focuses on the blood flow to your scalp to support your hair follicles to start regrowing hair that’s falling out
- Continue spending time outdoors, because it positively influences your mental health and as a result – your hair health. Just be sure to take an umbrella in case it rains!
- Get in tune with your body and finding the exercise that will inspire you to stick to it
- Do a blood check – to identify any specific deficiencies your body might have
- Remember that hair growth takes time, and seasonal shedding is usually temporary. Be patient and give your hair the care it needs.
When you spent your summer caring for others, fall offers a great opportunity to turn inwards and care for yourself. Our hair growth calendar helps you back into a balanced and healthy approach to your hair.
Do you have hair loss or hair shedding?
Hair loss and hair shedding are distinct phenomena related to changes in the hair growth cycle. Hair shedding is a natural process where individuals typically lose between 50 to 100 hairs daily. This shedding represents the regular turnover of hair and is considered normal. It is often associated with factors such as seasonal changes or hormonal shifts. Once those changes and shifts have passed – so does the hair shedding.
Reasons for shedding hair:
Below you will find reasons for temporary hair shedding:
- Seasonal (hair shedding in fall!)
- Losing 20 pounds or more
- Giving birth (postnatal hair loss)
- Undergoing high-stress situations (such as caregiving for a sick loved one, divorce, or job loss)
- Experiencing a high fever
- Going through a surgical procedure
- Recovering from an illness, particularly if it involved a high fever
- Discontinuing the use of birth-control pills
As your body adapts and recalibrates, the excessive shedding gradually diminishes. Within a timeframe of six to nine months, hair typically begins to regain its normal fullness.
Reasons for hair loss
On the other hand, hair loss is characterized by the interruption of the hair growth cycle, medically termed anagen effluvium.Unlike hair shedding, hair loss requires identification and resolution of the underlying cause before hair regrowth can occur. The most common causes of hair loss include:
- Hereditary hair loss
- Auto-immune diseases
- Some drugs and treatments
- Hairstyles that continuously pull on the hair
- Harsh hair-care products
- Compulsion to pull out one’s hair
If you have hair loss, your hair will not grow until the cause stops. For example, people who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments often lose a lot of hair. When the treatment stops, their hair tends to regrow. If you suspect that a treatment or drug is causing your hair loss, talk with your doctor. Serious side effects can occur if you immediately stop a treatment or drug.
- Seasonal changes in hair growth (1)
- Seasonal variation of estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in women and men (2)
- Hormone seasonality in medical records suggests circannual endocrine circuits (3)
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