seasonal shedding

Telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, hair shaft disorders, etc.
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g398
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:25 am

seasonal shedding

Post by g398 »

Hello,

First, thanks for providing such a great website and forum. I found this place a few of years ago when I first started having problems with hair loss and have found it a great resource. I started losing hair about 4 years ago and have found that it follows a pattern where heavy loss starts around mid-April and continues until late November when it starts to taper off. The rate of loss is nearly normal after that for a few months and then it starts back up again. I have been doing the scalp exercise almost every day for 20-30 min for about 2 years now. I lose less hair now than I did when this all started, but it is still well above normal (I would say ~3x above normal rate of shedding) in the spring, summer, and fall. It seems like every year the density is a little less, so the winter slow-down does not seem to let everything recover. I have tried to find information on what might cause a seasonal loss pattern like this, but cannot find anything from a reputable source. I have seen a few people on message boards throw around ideas about melatonin and vitamin D deficiencies but that is it. I was wondering if anyone has better info on what might cause a seasonal shedding pattern like this?

I have seen a couple doctors about it and have had been told I am in good health and that there is nothing that might cause a telogen effluvium, although my doctor does keep checking my thyroid, as thyroid problems run in the family and the blood test sometimes shows on the mid to high end of normal. Pattern baldness also runs in the family – but nothing I have read about that suggests that it should be seasonal like this. Perhaps you can correct me if I am wrong about that!

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Tom Hagerty
Site Admin
Posts: 629
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:21 am

Re: seasonal shedding

Post by Tom Hagerty »

I have tried to find information on what might cause a seasonal loss pattern
You say that your period of heavy shedding starts in mid-April and continues into November. For humans and some other mammals too, the big seasonal shed usually occurs in early autumn; a smaller period of shedding occurs in spring. Some researchers have attributed this seasonal shed to changing levels of melatonin and prolactin and other biochemicals too. The speculation is that perhaps this change in levels of melatonin is caused by different daylight hours.

Most of us shed between 50 and 100 hairs every day. This is a result of the three stages of the hair cycle which you can read about on my website. A terminal hair in the anagen stage of the hair cycle lasts from 24 to 72 months. But about 10 percent of your 100,000 hairs are in the telogen stage of the hair cycle at any one time. In a hair shed more than 10 percent of terminal hairs enter the telogen stage. Then about three months later these telogen hairs start falling out. That is the shed - more than 100 telogen hairs are released from the hair canal each day.

Of course if these telogen hairs are replaced by terminal hairs, all is well. But if they are not replaced then the hair starts to look thinner. Evidently that is your situation. "It seems like every year the density is a little less..."

I've read about melatonin supplementation reducing the seasonal shed but these positive results are just anecdotal. I don't like taking pills unless they are absolutely necessary. The truth is I don't have any rational suggestions for easing seasonal shedding. Maybe it's something that you and other mammals will have to live with.
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g398
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:25 am

Re: seasonal shedding

Post by g398 »

Thank you for the reply. It's interesting to hear there may be something to the melatonin thing. There is so much misinformation on many of the HL forums it's hard to take a lot of the things on them seriously. I do use melatonin occasionally to help with sleeping, but I don't think I would want to use it as a supplement either. I understand long term use can make it difficult to fall asleep without it and that is not something I want to mess around with.

The weird thing is, I live in a subtropical place. The seasonal changes aren't very dramatic here!
Oliviab
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun May 17, 2015 8:28 am

Re: seasonal shedding

Post by Oliviab »

Hi Tom,

I've posted before about a possible trigger that happened to me that I thought could cause TE. Since then I started looking at the hairs that have been falling out, and noticed a lot of the hairs are short (3cm +) with the white bulb on the end. I also have hairs that are a bit longer (about 10cm with bulb ends) falling out. This is all with my normal full length hair strands falling out (my hair is about 50cm or so). I haven't particularly noticed an increase in the AMOUNT of hair shed from usual, and don't know if these shorter hairs have always been falling out and it's only because I'm looking that I noticed them.

Also, it's currently autumn where I'm from if that helps at all.

My question is, do you think its normal for differing lengths of hair to be falling out? I know some of the really short hairs are thin and probably are falling out to make room for thicker hairs, but some are not, especially the 10cm ones.
Tom Hagerty
Site Admin
Posts: 629
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:21 am

Re: seasonal shedding

Post by Tom Hagerty »

I...noticed a lot of the hairs [falling out] are short (3cm +) with the white bulb on the end.
I don't want to bother you with a lot of complexity, but hair loss is a complex topic. There is a form of hair loss called the short anagen syndrome. With this type of shedding the anagen or growing stage of the hair cycle is relatively short - just six months or so instead of years. Because of this brief period of anagen growth your hair can begin to look thinner. People with short anagen syndrome will never grow long hair.

There is also chronic telogen effluvium, a form of hair loss that affects mostly women. This is not a permanent form of hair loss but it can last several years. Sometimes ordinary telogen effluvium can morph into chronic telogen effluvium because of certain nutrient deficiencies. Some women who are vegetarians develop CTE because of low iron and vitamin B12. Hypothyroidism can also trigger CTE. But many times the CTE occurs without a known cause.

There is such a thing as seasonal shedding but this is usually just "seasonal." The hair bounces back after the season is over. Enjoy the autumn where you live and try to eat nutritious foods. Enjoyment plus healthy food might equal healthy hair before the winter sets in.
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