It's late fall and you're losing a lot of hair. You're not losing your mind, you could have  seasonal hair loss, which usually occurs in the late fall and early winter. There are a few different theories as to why seasonal hair loss occurs. According to Dr. Ryan Welter, MD, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Brown University School of Medicine, it can be attributed to you shedding extra hair that was grown to protect your scalp from the summer sun's UV rays. Stephanie Scuoppo, stylist at Miano Viel Salon and Spa in New York City notes that that it is also attributed to the fact that as mammals, humans shed old hair in order to make room for a thicker pelt to protect us from the winter.

Preventing and Dealing With Seasonal Hair Loss

Seasonal hair loss impacts both men and women, though women are usually more strongly affected, says Welter. "This natural process can be a source of additional stress for patients already concerned about losing their hair." The shed hair does grow back and in some cases, the growth is accelerated (just like the hair loss).

Scuoppo suggests that while there's nothing you can do to prevent seasonal hair loss, the best way to disguise it is to maintain a four- to eight-week haircut schedule, especially if you have long hair. This will help keep your hair looking its best. Some holistic treatments to encourage hair growth include scalp massages and hot towels (to stimulate the scalp's blood vessels). Also, a diet rich in amino acids, zinc, and vitamin B6 is thought to help stimulate hair growth.

The Difference Between Seasonal Hair Loss and Alopecia

The condition can be confused with other more serious forms of hair loss, such as alopecia, says Welter. Therefore, he says any form of ongoing hair loss should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor with training specific to hair loss conditions.

Here are a couple of warning signs that your hair loss could be something more serious:

  • More than 100 hairs are dropping from your head each day (50-100 hairs shed each day is considered normal).
  • You can see the contour of your head in your rearview mirror.
  • You notice that hair regrowth is slowing down.

If you are worried about hair loss, it's not vanity. Hair loss can be a sign of a medical problem, such as a thyroid condition, or can stem from an emotional shock or stress. The problem may be common and easily treated, so definitely reach out to your doctor if you notice a problem.

Stephanie Scuoppo reviewed this article.



Sources: "Seasonal Hair Loss - Myth or Reality?" Belgravia Centre. Web. Dec 6, 2011.

Scuoppo, Stephanie. Hairstylist: Miano Viel Salon & Spa, New York, NY.

Welter, Dr. Ryan, M.D. Ph.D, Clinical Assistant Professor Brown University School of Medicine.