The fall is in full bloom. The beauty of October pleases the eye: the trees are golden, the sky is particularly saturated, and the sunsets are most magnificent. Nature is getting ready for hibernation to revive in spring. But it’s not just nature that is transferring into a new period. Hair growth is also periodical. As a matter of fact, each hair goes through a cycle of three stages. They are:
- Anagen. It is the stage of growth that is characterized by hair cells dividing and growing rapidly. Normally hair grows about 1 cm every month during anagen. It usually lasts from 2 to 4 years or even longer.
- Catagen. It is the transitional stage of involution. It follows anagen and marks the end of the active hair growth. It usually takes from 2 to 3 weeks for hair to pass through catagen.
- Telogen. It is the stage of rest that, just as catagen, lasts 2-3 weeks. It’s characterized by fully keratinized club hair that no longer grows and is in fact dead. All hair follicles may not be in the same stage at the same time but proportionally about 15 percent of hair follicles are usually in telogen.
After telogen the cycle returns to the anagen stage producing new hair and resulting in 50-100 old hairs coming out on a daily basis what’s considered to be perfectly normal.
In autumn many people notice loss of extra hair. Obviously, a question arises whether it can be considered perfectly normal. The answer lies in seasonal hair loss cycles that are typical not only of human beings but of all mammals in general. We belong to the mammalian world and, as all mammals do, we tend to replace our “summer coats” for winter what results in autumnal shedding.
It’s not very clear yet why and how it happens, but among the potential regulators of extra hair loss in autumn is melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain which is responsible for maintaining the body’s circadian rhythms. Melatonin is secreted in darkness and its production is inhibited by light. As far as there is a gradual reduction in daylight hours in autumn, it consequently increases melatonin levels in human body what in turn promotes seasonal hair shedding and the onset of the winter anagen stage.
Although there is loss of extra hair in autumn, the number of hairs lost daily doesn’t usually exceed the limit of 100 hairs. Moreover, seasonal shedding comes and goes pretty quickly (2-3 weeks of telogen). Of course, it is more obvious to those with long and thick hair, as well as to natural “heavy shedders”, but some people may even not notice anything to worry about. In any case autumnal hair loss is perfectly normal. Think of it as of leaves falling down from the trees. And new ones will come out and put forth soon.