How to Tell Whether Your Natural Hair Has Shedding or Breakage May 04 2018

If you have thick, curly hair, it can be very difficult to tell whether you have shedding or breakage. Yet, it can be devastating to look in the mirror and notice your hair isn’t what it used to be—especially if you’re female.

As women, we tend to spend a lot of effort on the way we look, and hair is very tied in to our self-esteem. Any sign of thinning or balding is likely to bring worry and lots of research to see what’s going on.

Figuring out what type of hair loss you have is the first step to fixing your shedding and breakage. In this post, you’ll find out the differences and some potential solutions, so you can stop your hair loss and possibly even reverse it.


Natural Hair

The Characteristics of Shedding

A lot of ladies use the shedding and breakage terms interchangeably, but there’s a big difference. Pinpointing the location of the thinning is the first step to determine whether you have shedding or breakage.

Why is it important to know which one you have? Excessive shedding should be taken seriously because it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Here are some signs you may have a shedding problem:

  • Thinning at the Root. If your hair is thinning at the root, it’s probably shedding. Examine the hair that’s falling. Are you throwing away many long strands on wash day? Keep in mind that it’s normal to shed up to 100 hairs per day, but if you notice a significant change in the number of strands, you might need to consult with a doctor.
  • Itching. If you’re itching a lot or your scalp is irritated or painful, it’s possible that you’re losing hair too. Itching can be related to scalp fungus, dandruff, folliculitis, and scalp acne. It can be difficult to figure out the exact cause of your itching, but a dermatologist would be able to examine your scalp and provide a solution.
  • Scalp Inflammation, Acne and Pain. Is your scalp sore in specific areas or all over? It may be inflammation. You can often feel bumps or raised beds on your scalp if you run your fingers over the area. If you have curls or thick hair, it might be hard to tell. It may be easier to feel the area while you’re in the shower and your hair is wet and flatter.

Another trick to help you examine your own scalp is to place your index finger on the affected area and position a cell phone camera lens over it with the other hand. Then remove your finger from the spot and snap the photo or capture a short video. This will help to compare your pictures against Google photos and other medical sources to see if there are any similarities.

Self-diagnosing isn’t always that solid, and It’s crucial to solve shedding issues early before they become permanent hair loss. However, it’s quite possible to stop hair loss from progressing and you may even be able to reverse it.

Regular washing with a medicated shampoo is one of the most effective things you can do to solve hair loss caused by bacteria, fungus, acne, and inflammation.

There are effective shampoos which help to treat inflammation, itching, and other scalp conditions like dandruff. Nizoral is one of the most widely used shampoo by people with scalp pain, itching, and inflammation.

Non-prescription Nizoral contains 1% ketoconazole, and it is effective for scalp problems. However, the Nizoral shampoo contains sulfates. A sulfate-free ketoconazole option is Regenepure DR Shampoo. It is more expensive, but you’ll probably appreciate the sulfate-free formula.

You can also try Jason Natural’s Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo. It contains 2% sulfur and 2% salicylic acid, which will be highly effective in controlling scalp conditions. The Jason Natural shampoo contains no sulfates.

Solving shedding is tricky. The go-to shampoos don’t always work, especially if the hair loss is a sign of a serious underlying medical condition.

Hair loss specialists may be able to help you if you have shedding due to age, hormonal imbalance, illness, or genetics.


The Signs of Breakage

Breakage is easier to control than shedding, but can be devastating nonetheless.

Here are some signs of breakage:

  • Hair is Thinner at the Ends. Hold a blank piece of paper behind your hair and examine your strands in the mirror. Is it thinner at the ends than the roots? If so, you might have breakage. Hair that is thinner at the ends is also known as split or tapered ends. 
  • Damage at the Transitioning Point. If you’re transitioning from relaxed to natural, you probably have a line of demarcation. This is the point where old hair meets new. The line of demarcation can be a common point of breakage. 
  • Hair is Thinner at the Hair Tie Point. If you frequently wear ponytails and high or low puffs, check out the area where your ponytail holders would normally be. Most hair ties cause damage to hair and form split ends in the middle of the strand.
  • Ends are Dull, Tangled, or Dry. Do you have trouble detangling your hair because it’s so dry and tangled at the ends? It’s common to have breakage due to dry hair. If you notice your hair knotting more and your detangling sessions getting lengthier, you may have breakage.
  • You Get Too Many Single-Strand Knots or Hair Fairies. It’s nearly impossible to control all single-strand knots, but if you begin to experience them more frequently than before, it may be time for a trim.

Solving breakage is simpler than fixing shedding, but it can still be difficult to completely eliminate breakage altogether.

Here are some guidelines to minimize breakage on natural hair:

  • Moisturize. Curly hair thrives on moisture, and it’s imperative to keep the hair moisturized daily to avoid breakage. Deep condition your hair 2-4 times per month to infuse moisture and nutrients. Also, do the LOC method at least twice per week to help your hair retain more moisture.
  • Trim the Hair. You’ll probably need to develop your own pattern for trimming the hair, but many naturals suggest cutting twice per year. Trimming will help you to get rid of frayed ends, before they snag onto the other curls. You can also use a search and destroy method, where you only cut when you see damage. Be sure to use quality shears to make clean, crisp cuts.
  • Protein Treatment. These types of treatments patch up gaps on porous or damaged hair. Protein can be particularly helpful for naturals who use color treatments and heat to style hair. You can also mend the line of demarcation in transitioning hair by applying the protein to the area more often than the other parts of your hair.

    • Hair Ties. The type of hair ties you use can help you avoid breakage. Avoid elastic banding and opt for a softer material that doesn’t hurt the strands. Snappees were made for naturals who are concerned with keeping the length they’ve worked hard to grow. Plus, they unsnap to allow the ponytail holder to be gently lifted off the strands, rather than pulled.

    Paying attention to where the thinning occurs will help you determine what to fix and how to reverse your hair loss. You may be able to return to a full head of hair if you adopt helpful techniques and remedies into your regimen.

    What about you? Do you have shedding or breakage issues on your natural hair?