Hair Shedding VS Hair Loss

The process of hair shedding is a natural and integral aspect of the hair growth cycle. However, discovering a clump of strands in your hairbrush or a handful impeding your shower drain may provoke anxiety. This may lead you to question whether you are undergoing genuine hair loss rather than a typical shedding phase. It is crucial to discern this disparity because, although hair shedding is normal, hair loss may indicate an underlying issue. Thus, it is essential to comprehend how to distinguish between hair loss and routine hair shedding.

Hair Shedding?

Hair shedding is a customary process where hair naturally falls out, and it is entirely normal. As per Yates, it is typical for individuals to naturally lose around 150 hairs each day, and this shedding signifies the commencement of a new hair growth cycle. Our strands have four stages of life: growth (anagen), transition (catagen), rest (telogen), and shedding (exogen).1 Shedding is how we make space for new growth, so when one handful leaves, another makes its way in. This process between exogen and anagen can take two to five months.

What Constitutes Hair Loss?

Hair loss occurs when hair strands cease to engage in the natural life cycle, falling out from the scalp without reentering the growth or anagen phase. In cases of hair loss, the hair follicle becomes inactive. The absence of new hair growth indicates the occurrence of hair loss.

Factors such as cancer, radiotherapy, and extreme diets can expedite this loss. The causative factors, however, vary. If menopause is the cause, the loss is typically permanent, but in other cases, it may be temporary. If you notice unexpected hair loss, pay attention to any significant lifestyle changes and consult with your doctor

Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss

Hair shedding is a cyclical and temporary occurrence that is expected from time to time, with various remedies available to reduce excessive loss. In contrast, hair loss is triggered by external or internal factors, such as stress or diet, and has a lasting effect that can be more challenging to recover from, though not impossible.

Certain life events and seasonal factors may temporarily increase hair shedding. This excess shedding is often attributed to internal changes like hormonal imbalance, nutritional shifts, or extreme weight loss.

Hormonal changes, particularly in women, are significant contributors to excessive shedding. Factors like childbirth, lactation, and discontinuing birth control pills can impact the amount of hair shedding.

While many of these events are temporary, allowing the hair to regain balance, true hair loss presents a different scenario. It may manifest as a hair patch, potentially indicative of conditions like alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease causing the body to attack its immune system. This results in hair loss typically seen on the head or face in quarter-sized patches or larger. Depending on the underlying cause, professional treatments may be available to address hair loss


Any unexpected hair loss or persistent excessive shedding warrants professional attention. When excessive shedding, also known as telogen effluvium, is accompanied by a visibly thinner appearance in the hair, it is considered hair loss rather than normal shedding. If the hair shedding over time causes hair to look thinner and remains excessive, or if the scalp is tender or sensitive to the touch, seeking advice from a dermatologist is recommended. When dietary changes are suspected to be linked to excessive shedding, chatting with an endocrinologist could also be beneficial.

There are numerous ways to address severe shedding, and consulting with an internal medicine doctor can help develop an effective plan. Meanwhile, implementing some preventative tips regularly can contribute to maintaining the health of hair:

  • Engage in a daily scalp massage: Massaging the scalp for at least 4 minutes each day can alleviate tension, improve blood circulation, and enhance scalp health, reducing hair fall, according to several studies.
  • Avoid applying heavy oils on the scalp: This can clog the follicle, hindering future hair growth.
  • Limit daily shampooing: Wash hair every other day versus daily since stripping cleansers can cause dryness and scalp irritation