I often hear from people who are trying to determine if what they are experiencing is shedding or hair loss. Although both of these conditions are quite similar, the outcome and experience is often different. Sometimes, the two conditions overlap, which can make them difficult to diagnose. But, in the following article, I’ll discuss some of the differences between hair shedding and hair loss.
Hair Shedding Is Often Dramatic And Temporary: People who are experiencing seasonal shedding or drastic hair loss due to medical causes or conditions like telogen effluvium (TE) will often tell you that they are seeing hair everywhere and on everything. This type of loss would be very hard to ignore as you’ll typically see much more hair fall than what has been normal for you in the past.
What is happening in this situation is that, for whatever reason, your hair cycles have reset and many follicles went into the resting or shedding phase at one time. When this happens, your experience is usually not a fun one. But typically, your follicles have only been reset rather than damaged. So, while you may see a temporary loss in volume before regrowth offers you any relief, your regrowth should be normal. The hair that grows back in should have a regular texture and should not be compromised in any way.
So, while shedding is never all that pleasurable, it’s typically temporary unless it turns chronic or you have CTE (or chronic telogen effluvium.) A few months after the shedding stops, you should begin to see some regrowth. And eventually, your hair cycles and it’s appearance should return back to normal.
True Hair Loss Can Be More Gradual And Can Sometimes (But Not Always) Be Patterned. It Can Also Be Permanent If Left Untreated: People who are experiencing hair loss might not see the dramatic shedding that people with TE can sometimes see. Yes, there may be more hair fall than what is normal, but it often won’t rise to the level of shedding. And sometimes, the loss is more noticeable in one specific area or is patterned.
In men, you will often see loss at the temples, at the crown, and at the top of the head. In women, you will often see more diffuse loss. Or, you will sometimes see a widening part line, see through loss at the top, or thinning at the crown of the head. With that said, every one is different. Women can get temple thinning and men can get bang thinning. Both sexes can have more diffuse loss also.
In many cases, androgens and hormones are negatively affecting the follicles and contributing to the loss. Even worse than this, the follicles are often also affecting the scalp’s ability to regrow normal textured hair. So, the regrowth will often be miniaturized and will often come in too thin and too fine. This is what can make hair loss more noticeable and lasting than hair shedding. The regrowth very gradually can no longer provide significant coverage. In severe cases, there’s sometimes no coverage at all in severely affected areas. The longer the loss goes on, the harder it can be to regrow what has been lost. And the longer time the follicles are exposed to androgens or other irritants, the more they shrink and are compromised. This makes it harder for them to recover over time.
That’s not to say that shedding never becomes permanent or that true hair loss is never something that can be overcome. There are exceptions to every rule and treatment will typically help greatly. I hope that this article has shown you some general differences between shedding and hair loss.