Spring is here, and so is the dreaded seasonal hair loss. You might have noticed more strands of hair on your pillow, in your shower drain, or in your hairbrush lately. This can be alarming and distressing, especially for those who are already concerned about their hair’s health.
However, spring shedding is actually quite common. People around the world experience it, and it’s usually not a cause for concern unless it is excessive or persistent.
But why does seasonal hair loss in spring happen?
If you can understand the seasonal hair loss cycle, you can take good care of your hair and scalp, minimize its impact, and enjoy healthy, beautiful hair all year round. And in this post, we will tell you how.
What is seasonal hair loss?
Humans normally shed about 50 to 100 hairs per day. It’s a part of a natural, three-stage hair growth cycle—the growth phase (anagen), the transition phase (catagen), and the resting phase (telogen). Each hair follicle goes through these phases at different times, so you normally have a mix of growing and resting hairs on your scalp. Normal hair loss occurs when the hairs in the resting phase are replaced by new hairs.
In seasonal hair loss, hair loss here occurs in response to changes in temperature, humidity, and sunlight. This type of hair loss usually happens in autumn and spring, when the seasons change from warm to cold or vice versa.
Seasonal hair loss is different from normal hair loss in three key ways:
- Seasonal hair loss is more noticeable than normal hair loss. You may lose up to 200 hairs per day during seasonal hair loss, as opposed to 50 to 100 hairs in normal hair loss. You may also notice more hairs on your pillow, brush, shower drain, or clothes.
- Seasonal hair loss is temporary. Seasonal hair loss usually lasts for about six to eight weeks and then stops on its own. Your hair will grow back normally within a few months and will not affect your overall hair density or quality.
- Seasonal hair loss does not require any special treatment. Seasonal hair loss is not a sign of a medical condition or a serious problem with your hair health. It is a natural phenomenon that happens to most people and does not need any special care or intervention.
Causes of seasonal hair loss
Studies suggest that the primary cause of seasonal hair loss in the Spring may be a drop in melatonin production—a hormone that regulates the hair growth cycle. Melatonin helps to keep most of the hair follicles in the anagen phase, which is the active growth phase. Melatonin production is suspected to be heavily influenced by darkness. Hence, the more we are exposed to darkness, the higher the production of melatonin will be.
When winter transitions into summer, the days get longer, and our exposure to darkness falls. This causes the production of melatonin to drop, which in turn leads to more hair follicles entering the telogen phase or the resting phase. This means more hair strands will fall out after a few days of being in the telogen phase.
Changes in temperature can also aggravate hair loss issues.
When the temperature is high, your scalp produces more oil and sweat to cool down your body. Hair becomes greasy and sticky and attracts all kinds of dirt and bacteria. When the temperature is low, your scalp produces less oil and sweat, which can make your hair dry and brittle. This can also make your hair lose its shine and elasticity.
When the temperatures begin to rise in Spring, it affects the moisture level of the scalp and hair, which can make them more prone to breakage and damage. Higher temperatures can also affect blood circulation and hormone levels, which in turn affect hair follicles and eventually cause hair loss.
However, sometimes external factors can also trigger a large number of hairs to enter the telogen phase at once. This is called telogen effluvium, and it results in increased hair shedding for a few weeks.
How to reduce seasonal hair loss?
Seasonal hair loss is a normal and natural process that does not require any special treatment. It’s possible to minimize spring shedding, but only if you tweak your lifestyle. Here are some things you can try to reduce your seasonal hair loss in the spring season:
Seasonal hair loss is usually temporary and reversible, as the hair follicles will eventually return to the anagen phase and resume normal growth. However, sometimes that may not be the case, and your hair loss may keep getting worse.
Eat a balanced diet
Your hair needs nutrients to grow and stay healthy. So make sure you’re consuming foods that provide protein, iron, zinc, biotin, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for hair growth and strength, as well as preventing hair loss. Also make nuts, seeds, salmon, spinach, and citrus fruits a mainstay of your diet. These foods promote hair growth, fortifies your hair follicles and can reduce your hair loss.
Water is not only necessary for your overall health, but also for your hair. Water helps the body get rid of toxins and maintain a healthy scalp. Hair can become dry, brittle, and more prone to breakage as well as slower growth if you are dehydrated. Aim for eight glasses of water per day, and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate you.
Avoid heat styling
Excessive heat can damage your hair cuticles and make them more prone to falling out. If you use blow dryers, curling irons, or straighteners regularly, try to reduce the frequency and intensity of heat exposure. Use a lower temperature setting, apply a heat protectant spray before styling, and limit the time you spend on each section of hair. Alternatively, you can opt for natural or no-heat hairstyles that don’t require any tools.
Massage your scalp
A gentle scalp massage can stimulate blood circulation and nourish your hair follicles. It can also help to relieve stress and tension, which can contribute to hair loss. You can use your fingertips or a scalp massager to gently rub your scalp in circular motions for a few minutes every day. You can also add some essential oils like lavender, rosemary, or peppermint to enhance the benefits and aroma of the massage.
Use gentle products
Harsh chemicals found in some shampoos, conditioners, and styling products can deplete your hair of its natural oils and moisture. This can damage or block your hair follicles, which can eventually accelerate your hair loss. Always avoid sulfate, paraben, and silicone-laden products. Instead, go with products with natural ingredients that nourish and protect your hair. You can also whip coconut oil, honey, aloe vera, and yogurt up into a hair mask and use it as an effective homemade treatment.
How do you know if it’s seasonal hair loss or alopecia?
It is important to differentiate between seasonal hair loss and other types of hair loss that may require special attention. Some signs that your hair loss may be more than seasonal are:
- You are losing more than 100 hairs per day on average
- You are noticing bald patches or thinning areas on your scalp
- You have other symptoms such as itching, inflammation, or scalp infections
- You have a family history of pattern baldness or autoimmune diseases
- You have recently experienced a major stressor, such as illness, surgery, or trauma
If you suspect that your hair loss is not seasonal, you should consult your doctor or a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Some common causes of non-seasonal hair loss are:
This is the most common type of hair loss, also known as male-pattern baldness. It is caused by a genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that shrinks the hair follicles and shortens their lifespan. It usually affects the top and front of the scalp and can be treated with medications such as minoxidil or finasteride.
This is a type of hair loss that occurs when a large number of hair follicles enter the telogen phase prematurely due to a shock or stress to the body or mind. It can be triggered by factors such as childbirth, medication, diet, infection, or surgery. It usually affects the whole scalp and can be reversed once the underlying cause is resolved.
This is a type of hair loss that occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing them to fall out in patches. It can affect any part of the body and vary in severity from mild to total baldness. The exact cause of alopecia areata is unknown, but it may be related to genetics or environmental factors. It can be treated with corticosteroids, immunotherapy, or other medications.
Seasonal hair loss is nothing to worry about as long as it does not affect your self-esteem or quality of life. However, if you notice any unusual or excessive hair loss that persists beyond the normal cycle, you should seek professional help to treat your hair loss.
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