Sun, sand and… hair loss? If you’ve noticed a few more strands in the shower drain during the summer months, you’re not losing your mind. In fact, it has been hypothesized that women lose more hair during the summer months than during the winter months.
In this article, we’ll discuss the relationship between hair loss and the seasons, the research behind it and what you can do if you’re longing for more mermaid-y locks. You know — less Ursula, more Ariel.
It has long been suspected that women lose their hair following a seasonal pattern, with the highest amount of hair loss during the summer months.
To look into this phenomenon, researchers at John Hopkins University and Washington University compiled 12 years worth of Google Trends data to see if there was any correlation. They looked at the trends data from eight countries in four hemispheres with high search rates for the term “hair loss,” and compared the data across seasons and months
They discovered that across all eight countries, the results were consistent. People searched Google using phrases related to hair loss more frequently in the summer and fall months.
But what causes this seasonal hair loss pattern — and should you be concerned? Let’s explore the research.
Seasonal shedding has been well-documented in a variety of animals, from dogs and cats to monkeys and camels. In humans, seasonal hair loss has been reported more in women than in men.
It’s normal to shed around 50 to 100 hairs per day. However, when the body sheds an excessive amount, this condition is called telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium can happen for a variety of reasons, including recent weight loss, giving birth, recovering from an illness or stopping hormonal birth control pills.
Several research studies have also demonstrated a seasonal pattern to hair loss. The greatest amount of telogen hairs (aka the hairs that we shed) have been found to occur in the summer months. Conversely, the lowest occurrence of telogen hairs occurs in the winter.
Additionally, a recent study demonstrated that the peak months for hair shedding are August and September. The study also found that the peak time for hair growth occurs at the beginning of spring.
Keep in mind, however, that these studies have been limited to small sample sizes and certain geographical locations. Therefore, additional research is needed to further investigate the relationship between hair loss and the seasons.
Remember that it’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. Noticing a little extra hair in your hairbrush may be nothing to worry about, especially if it’s during a warm-weather month.
If those extra strands are making you nervous, it may be worth scheduling a visit with your healthcare provider. It is estimated that 40 percent of American’s suffer from unwanted hair shedding. Many women will notice an increase in hair loss or hair shedding as they age, but hair loss could also be indicative of an underlying health condition or disease.
One cause of hair loss in women is a condition called androgenic alopecia. Androgenic alopecia is a fancy way of saying female pattern hair loss. This type of hair loss is caused by your body’s reaction to androgens, which are hormones that contribute to your development and reproductive system.
Thankfully, several treatment options are available for female pattern hair loss.
Topical minoxidil is an FDA-approved medication for androgenic alopecia in women. It works by signaling your blood vessels to open. This allows more nutrients and oxygen to flow to the hair follicles and other cells where the medication is applied.
Minoxidil also works to elongate the growth phase of the hair, so more follicles are produced to replace lost hairs. It is available as a 2% topical solution or 5% foam to treat female pattern baldness.
We’ve written more about what to expect from minoxidil in our Complete Guide to Minoxidil for Female Hair Loss.
Spironolactone works by preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Yes, the same androgen hormone that’s causing your cystic acne may also be causing your hair to fall out. Further, spironolactone may also be useful in preventing the production of androgens. In fact, it has been proven to improve or stabilize hair loss in women.
Read this post to learn more about how spironolactone can help with hair loss.
Please note: Women who are pregnant should not take spironolactone.
Shedding more hair during the summer months is completely normal. However, if you’re concerned about the amount of hair you’re losing, or you are shedding year-round, it may be worth looking into an underlying cause or condition.
Thankfully, there are medications like minoxidil and spironolactone that can treat female pattern hair loss.
Start a conversation with your healthcare provider to talk about which treatment options are right for you.
And if our description of seasonal hair loss isn’t quite fitting the bill, you can read further in our Female Hair Loss 101 guide.