It May Not be the Holiday Stress. You May Have Alopecia.
A little bit of stress during the holiday season is totally normal. But if you’re experiencing hair loss that seems heavier than usual, you could be dealing with alopecia, which is a bit different than dealing with typical holiday stress. Here’s what to know about hair loss and alopecia.
Is Losing Hair Normal?
Yes! Hair goes through a cycle in which it grows, stagnates, and then falls out. So seeing a few strands of hair come out on your brush or left behind in the shower drain every day is nothing to be afraid of. That being said, it’s important to know when ordinary hair loss has turned into something more.
Reasons for Hair Loss
While you might be able to pinpoint a few different triggers for your hair loss, there are numerous hair loss causes that may not be alopecia. The sooner you can get an accurate diagnosis for your hair loss, the better. But if you want to help your dermatologist out, it’s helpful to have a list of potential triggers you’ve noticed handy. One of the most common reasons for hair loss is stress. And while times of high stress — times like the holidays — can result in more hair loss than normal, this hair loss is also temporary and will stop if you can reduce your stress levels. Another common reason for hair loss is chemical treatment. Bleaching, dyeing, and even heat styling your hair could cause breakage or even hair loss at the root in some instances. If you suspect this is the cause of your recent increase in hair loss, it could be time to put the hair tools away for a while. Most importantly, if you can’t pinpoint a trigger for your hair loss, it’s important to see your dermatologist for a diagnosis.
What’s the Difference Between Normal Hair Loss and Alopecia?
While a few strands of hair in your shower drain each day isn’t something you should be worried about, knowing the difference between normal hair loss and alopecia areata is essential to getting the treatment you may need. As we covered earlier, your hair’s normal growth cycle does involve hair falling out. That being said, this means that only a few strands of hair should be falling out — anywhere from 50-100 strands per day. Alopecia, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition that causes hair to fall out in patches or clumps. This type of hair loss is often sudden and can be mistaken for stress-related hair loss. It can occur in both small patches and large swaths on the scalp and on other areas of the body, as well. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available to help manage this condition, but there is currently no cure for alopecia.
Common Signs of Alopecia
As we mentioned earlier, alopecia is an autoimmune disorder. And while this means any number of common reasons for hair loss could contribute to your hair loss, they aren’t the root cause. If you suspect your holiday hair loss could be alopecia, look for hair loss in small patches. These patches could come out while you’re running your hand through your hair or while you’re washing it in the shower. The most important thing to pay attention to is how much hair falls out and whether it all came from the same area on your head. Pay attention to hair loss patterns like this on other parts of your body, as well.
You have enough on your plate to deal with this holiday season without adding hair loss to the list. If you think your hair loss could be an early sign of alopecia and you want a more accurate diagnosis, set up a consultation with a member of our team at SE Dermatology Specialists today.