Hair Loss vs. Hair Thinning: What’s the Difference?

Date: 14/08/2021

The conversation around female hair loss is often overlooked, but we are here to reassure you that experiencing hair loss or hair thinning over your lifetime is completely normal - in fact, 80% of women experience noticeable hair fallout by the age of 60 (1)

Keep in mind that hair shedding is a totally normal part of life, and we lose between 50 to 100 hairs every day, with no cause for concern. However, various biological and environmental imbalances can disrupt this state of affairs.

Hair loss and hair thinning are often muddled up, even though they each have distinct causes and manifestations. Our resident GP, Dr. Simmy Kaur, helps us break down the difference so that you can be armed with all the information needed to identify and treat your own hair loss or hair thinning.

 

Hair Thinning

 Hair thinning is a gradual process over time. A common example of hair thinning is ‘androgenic alopecia.’ The word ‘androgenic’ refers to the increased presence of male hormones that leads to hair thinning. Androgens are male sex hormones that are secreted by both the ovaries and adrenal glands in women. 

Various hormonal and genetic factors can contribute to a stronger presence of a by-product of the male hormone testosterone, called DHT. But what is happening on a biological level?

  • The enzyme 5-alpha reductase facilitates the conversion of testosterone to DHT.

  • This leads to a stronger presence of male hormones, and a weaker presence of female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone).

So what happens when the hormonal balancing scales are tipped?

  • The hair follicle shrinks

  • The growth (anagen) phase is shortened

  • The time between the telogen (shedding) and new anagen (growing) phase is lengthened

The result?

  • Hair growth becomes thinner, more brittle and falls out faster

  • Hair thinning usually begins at the scalp, parting line or sides of the scalp

  • This is followed by a more diffuse pattern radiating from the crown

A few causes of hair thinning:

  • PCOS

  • Menopause

  • Zinc deficiency

  • Vitamin D deficiency

  • Genetics and aging

 

Hair Loss

Hair loss refers to a sudden onset of hair loss caused by an external or internal factor. So why do we suddenly lose hair when we experience a shock to the system? An example of this is ‘telogen effluvium.’

  • In severe cases, up to 70% of growing (anagen) hairs are abruptly shifted to shedding (telogen) hairs (versus the normal 15% that elicits shedding before a new anagen phase). (2).

 

How does telogen effluvium manifest?

  • Usually 2-4 months after the eliciting incident as this timeframe typically represents the duration of an entire hair growth cycle. 

  • It usually resolves itself over time (as opposed to the regressive nature of hair thinning).

  • Hair loss is visible diffusely (it is spread out throughout the scalp).

A few causes of hair loss:

  • Postpartum hair loss

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Iron deficiency

  • Stress

 

Although hair loss and thinning can be rather confusing, narrowing down the differences and possible causes are key to effective treatment. Most importantly, it’s essential to recognise that hair loss and thinning among women is a lot more common than we think, and shouldn’t be a taboo discussion! MONPURE offers some wondrous treatment solutions to foster the ultimate healthy hair growth environment.

Discover MONPURE’s healthy hair growth solutions with the Great Lengths Regime, carefully formulated to target the scalp and hair follicles. These four innovative products work in tandem to protect, rebuild and boost maximum hair growth.

Let’s break the silence surrounding female hair loss together! Join our empowered and supportive hair loss community, powered by women, on instagram @itsnotjusthair_, or share your story with #ItsNotJustHair.

 

Got a question for our team of experts?

  1. https://www.hairlossdoctors.com/blog/2015/06/02/female-hair-loss-statistics-know-158887 
  2. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/telogen-effluvium/ 

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The conversation around female hair loss is often overlooked, but we are here to reassure you that experiencing hair loss or hair thinning over your lifetime is completely normal - in fact, 80% of women experience noticeable hair fallout by the age of 60.