Why Is My Hair Falling Out With a White Bulb?


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Sure, we’ve all seen loose hair strands, whether on our hairbrush, our pillow or circling the drain. But a hair strand with a little clump or white bulb at the end might make you do a double take.

Your next move might be to Google “What is the white bulb at the end of the hair?” which landed you here. Don’t worry, you’re (probably) perfectly normal (whether your friends agree or not is a different story).

Hair falling out with a white bulb can be normal shedding, but there are cases where it may be a red flag.

Below, we’ll get into how hair grows, the root causes of when shedding is actually hair loss and what you can do to treat it. Bookmark our guide on female pattern hair loss if you think this could be what you’re dealing with.

What Is the White Bulb at the End of Hair?

That white bulb at the end (or should we say beginning?) of a hair is the hair root.

Let’s get into a little anatomy — hair anatomy, that is. Every hair has a hair shaft and root. That shaft is the strand you can see protruding from your scalp.

The hair root is in the scalp and extends even lower into the hair follicle (a skin and connective tissue structure) and is connected to a sebaceous gland.

Cool fact: that nearby sebaceous gland is why hair gets oily over time—but that’s a different story for another day.

The hair root widens at the base of the individual hair, giving it a round, bulb-like appearance. New hair cells are constantly being made in the hair bulb. These cells stick together and harden, creating keratin, and the hair shaft develops from this group of hardened hair cells. The dermal papilla is found at the bottom of the bulb and supplies the hair root with blood.

Think of the papilla like a captain of the ship: It’s a key player in the type of hair shaft produced. Hormonal hair loss can target the papilla and eventually lead to hair follicular miniaturization (a fancy way to say your follicles get smaller and produce finer vellus or thin hairs). 

Since new hardened cells keep attaching to the hair from below the scalp, it’s gradually pushed out of the skin, allowing your hair to keep growing longer. Eventually, as part of your normal hair growth cycle (more on this below), the hair is pushed out and shed.

At the base of the freshly emptied follicle, cells multiply to form a new hair and the growth cycle begins again. Rinse, wash and repeat.

Why Is My Hair Falling Out With a White Bulb?

While that little white bulb may look suspicious, it’s just a normal part of your hair. But if you’re seeing a lot more of those hairs falling out in the shower on your pillow, you might want to take a closer look at potential causes.

The Hair Growth Cycle

To understand why your hair is falling out with a white bulb, it’s helpful to understand the hair growth cycle and how it works. Every hair on your scalp and body goes through three stages, referred to as the anagen, catagen and telogen phases.

  • Anagen phase. In the anagen phase, your hair actively grows from the follicle to its full length. This is also known as the growth phase. About 90 percent of your hair is in this phase at any given time. The length of the anagen phase differs depending on where a hair is located and determines how long your hair can grow before it detaches from the follicle and falls out. For scalp hairs, the anagen phase can last several years. For body hairs, it may only last a few months. This is why your body hair only grows a short length before shedding.

  • Catagen phase. The catagen phase comes next. This transitional phase lasts for two to four weeks after hair has grown to its full length. In this stage, a club hair is formed. If many club hairs form at once and are subsequently shed, it can give the appearance of thinning. This may be due to issues like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, stress, vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes after childbirth.

  • Telogen phase. Lastly, the telogen phase (also known as the resting phase) is when follicular activity is quiescent. When the follicle is reactivated, it signals the end of the telogen phase. Exogen is sometimes considered a fourth phase of the hair cycle and refers to the active process of releasing and shedding the hair. 

(RelatedHow to Prevent Hair Loss in Women)

Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss

When you start shedding lots of white bulb hairs at once, and it feels like sudden hair loss, it may actually be a sign of telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss and temporary hair shedding is often caused by a stressful event to the body.

Telogen effluvium doesn’t discriminate against age, and the causes of telogen effluvium can really vary. It can be brought on by any type of stressful event to the body, which from surgery, childbirth and drastic weight loss to a toxic boss or marital issues.

This condition usually takes two to three months to see excessive hair loss after the triggering event, and it can last for up to six months.

Thankfully, telogen effluvium is usually not permanent, and when the stressful element is removed, your hair should go back to normal. If you think you may be dealing with stress hair loss, check out this guide for more details.

Even your diet can cause telogen effluvium, as deficiencies in protein, iron and biotin (among other vitamins and minerals) can affect hair growth. Your dermatology provider can run blood tests to see if you’re deficient and recommend a supplement to help round out your diet. 

Additionally, certain drugs can have side effects that bring on telogen effluvium hair loss. Speak to your healthcare provider if you feel like your hair has started thinning since starting a new medication. 

Chronic telogen effluvium may have a shedding period that lasts longer than the typical six months if triggering factors stay persistent — like if you’ve been at a toxic job for a long time.

Is a White Bulb a Sign of Permanent Hair Loss?

A white bulb is not a sign of permanent hair loss, so you don’t need to Google “hair transplant options” just yet. It also doesn’t mean the hair follicle is dead or can’t regrow new hair.

Unlike androgenetic alopecia, telogen effluvium is typically reversible once the stressor is removed. (So yes, practice those deep breaths to help encourage healthy hair growth). You can speak with your dermatology provider to rule out any other root causes.

(RelatedHow to Prevent Hair Thinning at Your Temples)

How to Treat Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss

Thankfully, telogen effluvium can typically be reversed. While hair falling out with a white bulb isn’t the end of the world, seeing your hair falling out in clumps might be shocking. Acting early is vital.

Minoxidil, commonly sold under the brand name Rogaine, is a topical or oral medication that stimulates hair growth. Though its exact mechanism of action is still unknown, it’s believed to encourage more oxygen, blood and nutrients to the hair follicle.

Minoxidil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for female pattern hair loss and is often used in the treatment of telogen effluvium. It comes in several varieties, including:

  • Minoxidil drops. This dropper-style format makes it easy to target a bald spot or a wider part.

  • Minoxidil foam. This easy-to-apply foam can be quickly worked onto the scalp for diffused hair thinning.

  • Oral minoxidil. This once-daily pill has been shown to be as effective as topical minoxidil and can be a great pick for someone who doesn’t want to change their styling routine. 

Hair Falling Out With a White Bulb: What to Do

While hair falling out with a white bulb can seem like some type of funky bodily issue, it’s typically normal.

But if it seems like there may be a bigger issue going on, there are a few things you can do:

  • Consider your stressors. Large amounts of hair falling out with a white bulb can be a signal of telogen effluvium (hair loss brought on by a stressful event).

  • Eat your greens. Make sure to eat plenty of green veggies and all the other foods your mom would be proud of, as nutritional deficiency can bring on telogen effluvium.

  • Act fast. If you’re noticing hair fallout, find the right hair loss treatments to help address it and promote new growth before it gets baaaad.

This article originally appeared on Forhers.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

There are so many things that define each decade, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. But none of the things we’ve looked back on were quite as polarizing as the hairstyles. From piled-high funky styles to buzzed dos, here are the most popular hairstyles from the decade you were born, spanning from the 40s to the 2000s. 

Wikipedia / Mediafeed

Inspired by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood women at the time, the victory roll hairstyle featured tight curls pinned toward the face to frame it. Victory rolls were customizable, so you could opt for a single roll or different symmetrical or asymmetrical versions of dual rolls. 

Other popular hairstyles of the decade for women included tight curls, waves, and the pageboy. Women were also big on hair accessories, particularly the snood, which was essentially a crocheted bag used to cradle the hair and keep it in place. Both men and women sported the infamous pompadour during the ’40s. Men were also partial to quiffed hair or short curls and were also prone to just slicking their hair back.

Wikipedia / U.S. Army – Yank, the Army Weekly

Everyone knows the beehive hairstyle, whether you associate it with the ’50s or Amy Winehouse. All you had to do to be cool in the 1950s was pile your hair on top of your head in a conical shape to resemble a beehive. Lots of hairspray was needed for this one.

If your hair wasn’t long enough for the beehive, you might have sported other bouffant hairstyles, a poodle cut, an Italian cut, victory rolls, or even a pixie cut. Men were still into the slicked-back look along with side parts, the pompadour, or — if they were influenced by Elvis later in the decade — a Rockabilly do.

Wikipedia / Warner Bros.

Bouffant (derived from the French verb “bouffer,” which means to puff or fluff up) hair became popular during the 1950s, but dominated in the 1960s thanks to the iconic Jackie Kennedy sporting the style. The puffy, rounded hairdo was especially popular among housewives during the ’60s. 

Women also gravitated toward shorter hairstyles (influenced by Twiggy), including pixie cuts and flipped bobs and, for long hair, bangs. Men styled their hair with everything from the bowl cut and the ducktail cut to shag cuts and styles copying The Beatles.

Public Domain / Wikipedia

During the 1970s, the afro became a symbol of cultural and political expression, particularly within the African American community. The style pushed back against Eurocentric beauty standards and celebrated natural Black hair. Influenced by icons like Angela Davis and the Jackson 5, the afro surged in popularity, crossing racial and cultural boundaries to become a mainstream fashion statement. Its voluminous shape was achieved through techniques like picking, and its prominence spread among both men and women.

Separately, and inspired predominantly by Farrah Fawcett, long, feathered hair was also sought after during the ’70s. 

Wikipedia / GeorgeLouis at English Wikipedia

Whether it was crimped, curled, teased, spiked into a giant mohawk, or cut into a towering flattop, the most iconic ’80s dos could all be tied to one main group: big hair. During this decade, freedom of expression was fully embraced and displayed through hair. Styles like Jheri curls were popular thanks to Michael Jackson, and Billy Ray Cyrus spearheaded the popularity of the business in the front, party in the back mullet. The ’80s were eclectic times that reeked of Aqua Net and perms. 

Wikipedia / Allan Light

You didn’t even need to be a fan or viewer of “Friends” to ask your hairdresser to give you “The Rachel” in the ’90s. Everyone knew exactly which version of Jennifer Anniston’s hair you wanted. Layered, framed around the face, and shoulder-length was the style that ruled the decade. Chunky highlights, side bangs, and hair flipped out at the bottom were also wildly popular during the decade. And who could forget chopsticks carefully stuck into buns? All the rage. 

If you were a cool dude during the ’90s, you might have had frosted tips, spiky hair, or cornrows.


All you needed was a few bobby pins and some hairspray to make a pulled-back pouf happen, and every girl in the 2000s was on board. High ponytails and pigtails, choppy layers, and money-piece braids were a go-to as well. 

Skater boy hair/emo boy haircuts that swooped halfway across a guy’s face were also iconic during the 2000s. Who else remembers watching guys shake their heads in slow motion to get the hair out of their eyes like they were playing a role in the “Baywatch” intro? We shudder at the memory. On the opposite end of the spectrum, buzz cuts were prominent, along with faux hawks. 



Featured Image Credit: seb_ra/istockphoto.