Winter means more than just cooler temps and dry skin. Now is also the time of year when hair loss is at its peak. As the temps drop, it seems like just about everyone loses copious amounts of hair — some of us more than others.
But before you start panicking at the sight of some extra strands in the shower, there’s a simple explanation.
According Dr. Hadley King, Board Certified Dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa in New York City, due to the body’s hair growth cycle, it’s completely normal to shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day. And during cooler weather, women can expect to see a bit more loose hairs. Dr. King cites research that suggests women experience slightly higher rates of shedding in October and November — although the reason behind this higher hair loss is unclear.
Despite winter’s effect on hair loss, there is a chance severe shedding could indicate a deeper health problem.”If you are shedding significantly more than 100 hairs per day, then this is excessive hair shedding, a condition called telogen effluvium,” explains Dr. King.
Telogen effluvium is common after a person experiences a stress to the body or mind. Dr. King notes stressors can include: losing 20 or more pounds, childbirth, high fever, surgery, illness, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, going through a divorce or stopping birth control pills.
Although these are all quite common experiences, the result can last for several months. “As your body readjusts the excessive shedding stops, and within 6 to 9 months the hair tends to regain its normal fullness,” says Dr. King.
However, if you notice hair still has not bounced back from a stressful event after a few months, it might be time to visit the doctor. Hair loss is also an indicator of alopecia areata, which looks like a circular bald patch on the head and hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. The good news is both alopecia areata and hypo or hyperthyroidism can be treated by a dermatologist via cortisone injections and oral medications, respectively.