Animals are in the moult. But occasionally we forget that we are just mammals.
As soon as the leaves of the trees begin to fall, or start to show themselves again on the trees, our hair falls out. Sometimes with picking at the same time. And that is quite a shock, but don’t worry, you will not be bald. It is really just the molting, or the human-friendly term: ‘seasonal hair loss’. Very normal and nothing to worry about. Let me reassure you by telling you more about the sudden increase in hair loss in the fall and spring months.
When is the molt?
The biggest moulting period is in autumn. Around August / September we suddenly notice that there is much more hair than normal.
A somewhat smaller moult often starts around March / April. Not everyone notices a lot of difference in hair loss in the spring, but with some of us this moult can also be just as bad or even bigger than the fall.
But in general the months of August-September-October are the months in which most hair loss occurs.
How much hair do you lose?
Normally we lose about 100 hairs a day. But if we are bothered by the molt, this can easily be double or even triple. You will usually notice most hair loss while showering or combing your hair.
What happens during the molting season?
Our hair grows in phases, just like that of other mammals. There are 3 phases, which is called the anagen or growth phase, the catagen or transition phase, and the telephone or resting phase. Not all of our hair is in the same phase. That would not be possible either, because then our hair would fall out in its entirety once every few years and we would always be completely bald for a little while. Most hairs are in the growth phase, around 90%. Towards 10% is generally in the telephone phase, where the hair will fall out.
Studies show that during the moulting there are more hairs in that telephone phase (resting phase) than normal. For example, one of those studies showed that the amount of hair in this phase is highest in July. This corresponds to the fall moulting because about 100 days after a hair enters the telegone phase it falls out.
What is it causing?
Hormones are probably the cause of the sudden increase in hair loss. Our hairs are under the influence of sex hormones. There are very clear indications that testosterone plays a role in hair loss. Our hormone levels change constantly during the seasons. Research shows that the saliva testosterone levels of both men and women are at their highest in the fall and at their lowest in the winter. That also corresponds to the fall molt.
Why do we still have a molt?
There are many theories about the how and why of molting with us humans.
We have lost most of our body hair during evolution and have had long hair and other hairs in exchange for it, but we still have a molting period at the same time as most mammals. But where those animals grow thicker hair in the fall and thinner in the spring, we don’t have that according to research. Perhaps our moulting is still a remnant that has not disappeared during evolution.
Other theories mainly have to do with the weather. We have a lot of hair loss in spring and fall, and so much less in summer and winter. That would be on the one hand to protect our scalp from the sun and UV radiation and on the other to protect us from the cold.
But there is much to be said about these theories. Because why don’t we grow thicker hair like other mammals? And the difference between the number of hairs on your head in the growth phase is often not that significant to really make a big difference in terms of warmth or protection.
All in all, scientists are actually quite puzzled and there is still no clear answer to the question “why?” . I hope they will investigate a lot in the future, because I am very curious.
Who have the molt?
Both men and women suffer from seasonal hair loss. And it is not only limited to your head hair, studies with men also show eg thigh and beard hair to participate in the moulting.
The molting and hormonal contraception
Women who use contraception in the form of the pill, the puncture pill, a spiral, or another method involving hormones are probably less likely to suffer from molting. Hair is under the influence of sex hormones and it appears that as a woman who uses hormonal contraception you have lower testosterone levels. Testosterone has been shown to play a major role in hair loss.
When should you start worrying?
If your hair really starts to become considerably thinner, it might be time for a visit to the doctor.
A good way to keep track of hair volume is to measure your tail circumference. Keep in mind that for some of us it can happen that the tail circumference decreases by one cm. The most important thing is that your hair grows back, so if you notice a difference in tail circumference, see if it increases again within 2-3 months.
The molting usually lasts for a month or 2, max. 3, but if it is longer then you still have to ring the bell, because then it is possible that something else is going on.
I always suffer a lot from the moulting, both in the fall and in the winter. I find her everywhere, my brushes are full and I am constantly emptying my shower drain. Now towards November, I am just past the peak, and I finally start noticing that it will be less after almost 3 months. For me, 3 months is quite normal, my hormones fluctuate quite a lot throughout the year, so I now know that I don’t need to panic. I’ve also had to deal with hair loss due to medical reasons in the past, so I always secretly find it a bit exciting such a moulting period.