There are a lot of reasons for breakage and shedding. One should know the difference to address the issues properly. People mince words over those two terms (and they should) because they do have slightly different definitions. Shedding by and large is a generalized loss of hair from the root; it often happens after child birth, due to medication or some overall health issue that may weaken the hair over all. The strands that shed are usually long and have a white bulb at the end. Breakage, on the other hand, can be much more localized. It may not always be a health and wellness problem as much as it could be a mechanical problem like improper grooming or poor techniques. The broken strands often look “jagged” and are not uniformed (some long mixed with short). Most often “split ends” can be seen on these broken off strands of hair.
Shedding is harder to control than breakage. The causes for shedding are quite complicated. If one suspects that their hair is shedding it is wise to consult a doctor as this may be an indication of a more serious problem such as thyroid disease, Lupus or Alopecia. In men of course, loss of hair can be hereditary and finding the cause and ceasing the issue is very tough.
Breakage may be more easily addressed than shedding, but it can be just as frustrating to pinpoint the source. As mentioned before, breakage can come from improper grooming techniques. It can also come from poor habits like playing in your hair, twisting, pulling or raking continually. Jagged nails can break hair. So can cheap combs and brushes. Excessive brushing and combing can break hair too.
However, repetitive activities can unknowingly be the cause of hair breakage also. For example, pulling your hair back into a pony tail daily (without changing the position of the pony tail) can cause breakage at the nape of the neck or temples. Wearing a hat or head band in the same place may cause it. Those who wrap their hair at night in hopes of decreasing heat styling have also been victims of breakage if indeed they wrap their hair in the same direction every night (Ever notice that one side of your hair is slightly thinner or shorter than the other side? That is breakage due to repetitive stress). Just about anything can break hair, while combing wet may be hair’s biggest enemy.
Now that it is clear what causes breakage and now that it has been deciphered from shedding, what can be done about the problem? In the article You may be stunting your hair growth, we talked about how people unknowingly damage their hair and some ways to combat it. Also keep in mind strengthening hair from the inside out can help tremendously in staving off damage.
It can never be overstated that knowing is half the battle. If you are attempting to grow your hair out and having no success, first decide if you are experiencing breakage or shedding that may be stunting your efforts. Then come up with a regimen that can combat it, even if that regimen includes a doctor’s help.