The struggle with shedding hair is real, whether it’s clogging our drains, sitting in our hairbrushes or strewn around our homes.
Shedding between 50 and 100 strands of hair per day is normal, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. But there’s no reason to panic if you’ve recently noticed a lot more than that going down your drain.
A new study published in the British Journal of Dermatology examined the correlation between seasons and hair loss. According to the study, which examined patterns in Google Trends searches for the term “hair loss” across eight English-speaking countries over 12 years, searches for the term were greater in summer and fall than they are in spring. Winter fell between the two.
There are a few explanations given by dermatologists as to why hair loss increases during summer and fall. In the study, it concludes that the trend “suggests that hair loss in the population is significantly correlated with seasonality, and that hair loss occurs most frequently in the summer and fall.” This finding, the report reads, is “consistent with prior studies that used trichograms and other hair samples to find that telogen hair loss occurs maximally in the summer.”
Telogen hair is hair in the resting phase, “when the hair is released from the follicle and a new hair begins to grow in its place,” according to a piece written for a Texas-based dermatology clinic by dermatologist Lisa Rhodes.
Emily Wise Shanahan told Allure in September that “we hang on to more hair to provide increased protection from the sun” during the summer months. “A few months after, when we begin shifting into late fall and early winter, those hairs that we held onto during summer will make a transition into the shed phase,” she said. “This may result in a temporary increase in shedding compared to your baseline.”
One of the authors of the study, Shawn Kwatra, a dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins, told Health that it could have to do, in part, with evolution.
“This is speculative, but from an evolutionary perspective one of the roles of hair loss is to provide warmth,” he said. “This would be less necessary during the summer months.” The more evolved we become, the less we need hair to shield us from the cold.
But, just because it’s common to shed more hair during this time doesn’t mean you should assume that is the only reason for hair loss. Dr. Angela Lamb, director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice, director of dermatology at the Institute of Family Health and an assistant dermatology professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Angela Lamb, told HuffPost that yes, “The hair cycles more rapidly at different times of the year or due to hormonal differences,” but hair loss could also be the result of a larger issue.
“One of the largest things I see in my office is hair loss due to vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, birth control changes or pregnancy,” she said. “I would not just say if you are losing hair that it must be from the seasonal patterns.”
Still, unless you are noticing a significant shift in amounts of shedding, we hereby permit you to use your extra shedding as a sign that you are a more evolved member of the human race.