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What Is Temporary Hair Loss?

When we think of hair loss, we normally picture an older gentleman suffering with pattern baldness. Some will be surprised to learn, however, that loss of hair can affect both men and women at different ages. Moreover, the loss of hair is not always permanent. There is such a thing as “temporary hair loss” in which the hair growth cycle is disrupted for only a short period of time. Afterward, hair returns to a normal and healthy growth cycle, and the loss of hair is effectively reversed.

There are three main instances in which this situation may occur. There are surely many more, however learning about these three main types provides the most insight on this interesting phenomenon. Pregnancy is the first instance in which temporary thinning or shedding may occur. Second is autumn, during which changes in hair health seem to be related to the changing of the seasons. Stress is a third situation that may cause thinning, shedding, or balding through a condition known as telogen effluvium.

Pregnancy and hair loss are a common pairing, much to the dismay of expecting mothers. Thinning, shedding, or balding most commonly occurs following actual child birth. This happens as the body experiences a dramatic hormonal fluctuation, which ultimately disrupts the androgen balance in the scalp. Once the mother has time to recover from child birth, however, her hormonal levels typically return to normal and hair begins to regrow. It is important to note that hair loss may also occur during pregnancy. In this event, women are wise to consult their primary care professional or OB/GYN to ensure the condition is not the result of nutritional deficiency.

Temporary hair loss may also occur during autumn. Professionals refer to this lesser-known phenomenon as seasonal hair thinning, and it actually does not begin in the months of fall at all. The hair loss technically begins in summer, the hot months of which presumably damage the scalp and send hair follicles into a premature “Telogen” phase of growth. Also called the “resting phase,” hair ceases to grow while in Telogen phase and may eventually shed up to 2-3 months later. Of course, loss of hair is not actively recognized until this shedding happens, at which time it is autumn.

A third common instance in which temporary thinning or shedding may occur is in the aftermath of a stressful event. The event can be immediate and short-lived, such as a surgical procedure. Or, it might be longer in duration, like the stressful falling-out of a marriage. In any event, hair loss professionals at the American Hair Loss Association say evidence suggests that stress appears to “shock” the hair follicles and halt ordinary growth.

After considering the 3 most common ways in which temporary hair loss occurs, it stands to reason that the threat of such balding can be proactively minimized by following a few protocols. First, individuals should strive to maintain a healthy diet so the body gets the nutrients it needs to sustain healthy hair growth. Second, measures should be taken to protect the scalp from the sun during hot summer months. Finally, individuals should make time to unwind every day, recognizing that proactive stress management can improve total health in addition to the appearance of hair.

David B Levine