Summer Hair Loss: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

summer hair loss guide - treatments and causes

Reasons why we lose so much hair during summer season, and how best treat it...

Seasonal hair loss in summer, often referred to as "seasonal shedding," is a natural phenomenon where individuals experience an increase in hair shedding during certain times of the year, particularly in the late summer and early autumn. This type of hair loss is generally temporary and part of the normal hair growth cycle.

Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle

Hair growth occurs in cycles, which include:

Anagen Phase (Growth Phase)

This is the active growth phase of hair follicles. It can last from 2 to 7 years, during which the hair grows continuously.

Catagen Phase (Transitional Phase)

This is a short phase that lasts about 2 to 3 weeks. The hair stops growing and the hair follicle shrinks.

Telogen Phase (Resting Phase)

This phase lasts about 3 months. Hair does not grow during this phase but remains attached to the follicle. At the end of this phase, the hair is shed and a new hair begins to grow in its place, starting the cycle again with the anagen phase.

Causes of Seasonal Hair Loss in Summer

Natural Shedding Cycle

Studies have shown that humans, like many animals, undergo seasonal shedding. More hair follicles enter the telogen phase in the summer and early fall. This means that after a few months, these hairs will shed, which is why more hair loss is noticeable during this period.

Human hair follows a natural cycle of growth, rest, and shedding. During the summer, more hair may enter the shedding phase (telogen phase). This phenomenon is thought to be evolutionary, as the body prepares for the growth of thicker hair in the fall and winter to provide insulation.

Sun Exposure

Increased exposure to the sun's UV rays during summer can damage the hair shaft and scalp, leading to hair that is more prone to breakage and shedding. UV rays can weaken the hair structure and lead to dryness, making hair more susceptible to falling out.

Sweat and Sebum Production

Higher temperatures in summer lead to increased sweating and sebum (oil) production. Excess sweat and oil can clog hair follicles and lead to scalp issues such as dandruff or folliculitis, which can contribute to hair loss.

Environmental Factors

Activities associated with summer, such as swimming in chlorinated pools or the ocean, can expose hair to harsh chemicals and salt, which can dry out the hair and scalp, causing damage and breakage.

Stress and Lifestyle Changes

Summer often brings changes in routine, travel, and increased physical activity. These changes, combined with heat stress, can impact overall health and hair vitality.

Nutritional Changes

Diet may change during the summer, with people often eating lighter meals and potentially missing out on nutrients essential for hair health, such as vitamins and minerals.

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Main Symptoms of Summer Hair Loss

Seasonal shedding during the summer can manifest in various ways. Here are some common symptoms:

Increased Hair Loss

Noticing more hair than usual falling out when brushing, showering, or on your pillow. Seeing clumps of hair in the shower drain or on your hairbrush. Hair may appear less dense, especially at the crown or part lines. Hair might feel drier, more brittle, and prone to breakage.

Scalp Issues

The scalp may become oilier due to increased sweat and sebum production or drier from sun exposure and environmental factors. Excess sweat and buildup can lead to an itchy scalp. Increased shedding can sometimes be accompanied by flakiness or dandruff.

Psychological and Emotional Effects

Increased hair loss can lead to stress and anxiety about one's appearance, feeling self-conscious about the appearance of thinning hair. Noticing hair accumulation on clothing, furniture, or around the home. Hair may feel less voluminous or appear flat and lifeless.

Ways To Manage Hair Loss in Summer Season

Managing seasonal hair loss in the summer involves a combination of protecting your hair from environmental damage, maintaining a healthy hair care routine, and ensuring proper nutrition and hydration. Here are some effective ways to manage and minimize seasonal hair loss:

Protect Your Hair from Sun Damage

Cover your hair when you’re out in the sun to protect it from UV rays, use shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in treatments that contain UV filters to shield your hair from sun damage, and maintain a gentle hair care routine by using mild shampoos and conditioners: Opt for products that are sulfate-free and designed for sensitive or dry hair to prevent stripping away natural oils.

Avoid over-washing your hair. Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of natural oils, leading to dryness and breakage. Aim for washing 2-3 times a week. Rinse your hair with cool water to help close the cuticle and add shine.

Minimise Heat and Chemical Damage

Limit heat styling by reducing the use of hair dryers, straighteners, and curling irons. When you do use them, apply a heat protectant spray.  Try to avoid or limit hair colouring, perming, and chemical straightening during peak shedding seasons.

Hydrate and nourish your hair by staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep your body and scalp hydrated. Use deep conditioning treatments or hair masks once a week to restore moisture and repair damage. Apply leave-in conditioners to keep your hair hydrated throughout the day.

Protect Your Hair from Chlorine and Saltwater

Rinse your hair with fresh water before swimming to reduce absorption of chlorine or saltwater. Apply a leave-in conditioner or oil to create a protective barrier. Rinse your hair thoroughly with fresh water after swimming to remove any chemicals or salt.

Treatment Options for Hair Loss in Summer Season

Managing hair loss during the summer involves a combination of preventive measures, topical treatments, and lifestyle adjustments. Here are some treatment options and strategies to help mitigate hair loss in the summer season:

Topical Treatments

Over-the-counter topical solutions like minoxidil can help stimulate hair growth, however, it is a medication, therefore there is the risk of negative side-effects.  Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) serum is a safe and effective alternative to harsh medications like minoxidil. 

Natural Oils

Coconut oil, argan oil, and castor oil can help moisturise the scalp and hair, reducing breakage and promoting healthy hair growth. These oils are also safe to apply, and can be ideal for keeping the scalp hydrated and healthy. Apply as a leave-in treatment or as part of a deep-conditioning routine.

Specialist Hair Supplements

Specialist hair supplements can help support hair health and reduce hair loss by providing essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that might be missing from your diet. The leading specialist hair supplements on the market include Viviscal, TRX2, and HR23+. Some specialist hair supplements have shown to reduce hair loss, and promote hair growth. 

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