Most people expect to experience hair loss and aren’t worried to see some hair in the bathtub or shower, but seeing one’s beard losing hair must be abnormal, right? Wrong!
When talking about beard hair loss, we’re not referring to people having difficulty growing a beard or having uneven or patchy beard growth, but where beard hairs are shed. Beard hair loss is a natural part of the hair growth cycle even when you are healthy and have no underlying medical conditions and aren’t cause for alarm. In fact, it’s normal to shed 50-100 beard hairs daily. The amount of hair being shed varies depending on the beard size, but since the average male has approximately 30,000 facial hair follicles a few hairs won’t be missed.
Why Does Beard Hair Fall Out?
As mentioned, losing beard hair is a normal part of the hair growth cycle, which has four stages:
The Anagen phase, also known as the ‘growth phase’ or ‘active phase’ is the period during which hair growth happens. In this phase, rapid cell division occurs in the roots of the hair and hair volume increases. During this phase, hair grows about 1 inch per month, which amounts to 6 inches per year. This is the longest phase in the cycle and lasts on average for 3-5 years, but for some people can last up to 7 years or more. Approximately 80-90% of hair is in the anagen phase at any given time. In this phase, new hair is pushed out by the hair follicles and will keep on growing until it’s shaved or cut, or until the growth cycle has been completed. At this point, the Anagen phase starts all over again unless it is disrupted by factors such as chronic illness, stress, and poor diet.
The Catagen Phase
The catagen phase, or transition phase, is the shortest phase in the cycle. Catagen follows anagen and lasts between 2-3 weeks on average. This phase marks the deterioration of hair follicles and hair growth slows down. During catagen, the hair bulb starts breaking down and is detached from the base of the follicle causing the follicle to shorten. About 1% of hair follicles are in this phase.
The Telogen Phase
During the Telogen Phase, the resting phase, hair is still attached to the follicle, but no growth occurs. The hair stays in the follicle and is eventually pushed out when a new Anagen hair starts growing. 10-15% Of hair is in the Telogen phase at any point in time. This phase lasts 3 months to 100 days.
The Exogen Phase
The Exogen phase or shedding phase is the final stage in the cycle. This phase is technically part of or an extended form of the Telogen phase. During this phase, the hair shaft is finally separated from the follicle and is shed. Shedding is often exacerbated by normal brushing and washing of hair. The Telogen phase lasts 2-5 months during which old hairs fall out and are replaced by new hairs in the follicles.
Abnormal Heard Hair Loss
However, sometimes all is not well. In the event of an abnormal amount of beard hair loss with no sign of new growth, it is always prudent to seek medical advice as this could be a sign of an underlying problem.
Some Causes of Beard Hair Loss
Diet and Nutrition
Excessive beard hair loss could be indicative of a micronutrient deficiency caused by low levels of keratin, biotin, and calcium, which are all essential for hair production. This is a cue to increase your protein intake. A sudden reduction in carbohydrate intake caused by diets such as the Keto Diet, could also trigger beard hair loss as it might slow down hair growth.
Stress May Trigger Beard Hair loss
Prolonged and/or severe periods of stress could have detrimental impacts on mental and physical well-being and could play a role in beard hair loss. Chronic stress causes elevated levels of cortisol instrumental in the production of Telogen Effluvium 3 which interferes with beard hair growth.
Stress can be dealt with through the daily intake of antioxidants like Vitamin B and Vitamin E which will greatly reduce beard hair loss.
The Onset of Alopecia Barbae
Alopecia Barbae could be the cause of sudden beard hair loss resulting in bald patches in the beard. This happens when white blood cells attack the hair follicles and could be triggered by elevated levels of stress, periods of prolonged stress, a poor diet, and genetics. Luckily, this isn’t a permanent condition and can be reversed with medical treatments, home remedies, and managing stress levels. Hair normally grows back when the underlying cause has been dealt with.
Compulsive or Aggressive Beard Grooming Routine
The adage, “Too much of a good thing is bad,” is very relevant when it comes to grooming the beard. Traction Alopecia is caused by excessive or compulsive grooming of the beard which causes beard hair loss and scarring of the skin. This includes washing the beard too often, which causes the skin to dry out, blow-drying your beard, or excessive use of heated beard brushes. It’s recommended to rather use beard-nourishing products such as beard oils or balms. Using inadequate or inferior shaving equipment like a normal comb instead of a beard brush, and a low-quality brush can also cause the hair to thin out.
Treatments for Beard Hair Loss
There is no real scientific evidence for the effectiveness of home remedies, but they are worth considering and won’t cause any harm. It includes Aloe Vera, coconut or almond oil fish oil, and essential oils like lavender and wheatgrass.
Several medicinal treatments for beard hair loss like Anthralin, Corticosteroids, Diphencyprone (DPCP), and Minoxidil (Rogaine) are also available.
When beard hair loss cannot be treated with medicine, the option of a hair transplant may be considered.
Losing beard hair is a natural process, but a healthy lifestyle and proper grooming will go a long way in maintaining a healthy beard.