“Hair today, gone tomorrow.” For millions of men and women, the pun can sting a bit -- hair loss doesn’t feel like a joking matter. The thing to know is that everyone deals with hair loss to some degree, and you’re not alone when your comb looks like the barber’s floor before it’s swept.
There’s a difference between hair shedding and hair loss. It’s good to know the facts about how much hair loss is normal and what you can do if your follicles seem to have a mind of their own.
How Much Hair Do You Lose Each Day?
You may be thinking WTH (What The Hair) when you shower and see more and more strands cover the drain. It’s important to know that most people lose 50 to 100 hairs per day naturally.
Hair loss happens for numerous reasons, including
-Hairstyling and hair products: These are issues mainly for women who use products and heat styling instruments every day, resulting in damage to the hair and even follicle. -Stress factors: Individuals who experience stressful life events can have greater than normal daily hair shedding. -Hormone Changes: Women especially often see hair loss during or after pregnancy and menopause, times when their hormones are changing dramatically. -Supplements and medicines: Daily medications and supplements may present a problem with increased hair fall. -Genetics: For many people dealing with hair loss, their thinning or patchiness is a result of genetics. Known as androgenic alopecia, many men and women will see increased shedding because their hair follicles are susceptible to androgen hormones, including testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
While these can all cause hair loss, they’re not necessarily permanent. As personal situations are resolved and individuals get adjusted to medications or supplements, hair growth can resume at a regular rate. That’s not always the case though, and some men and women may require intervention to get their hair back to where it used to be.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Hair?
It helps to know a brief history of hair, so you understand that losing some strands along the way is all part of the circle of life. You have tens of thousands of hair follicles on your head, and not all of them are in the same phase at the same time.
Hair growth has a three-stage life cycle:
- Anagen: This the growing phase. This period is when the hair length is determined, and it lasts for two to seven years for any given hair follicle. Some people can grow individual hairs down to their waist while others may see their hair quit growing at shoulder length. Either way, most of the hairs on your head are in the anagen phase at any given time.
- Catagen: This is the transitional phase when hair strands detach inside the follicle and prepare for something new. This lasts about 3 weeks to a month, and during this time the hair can actually continue lengthening as the follicle pushes the old hair out.
- Telogen: This is the resting phase when the finished hair is fully released from the follicle, and the follicle rests before beginning new growth again. This can last months to years.
Hair growth, and sometimes loss, is a natural process. As you age, the growth stages change, but this recurring cycle keeps hair healthy.
What Makes Hair Fall Out?
Typically, hair falls out due to stress on the structure of the follicles or internal signals telling the follicle to stop growing.
Hair follicles are the tunnel-shaped structures in the epidermis layer of your scalp from which your hairs grow. When these pores are damaged or if endogenous molecules are signalling that they stop growing hair, the structure can be compromised or the process halted. Follicles can be repaired, but if the damage is too extensive or the problem goes untreated, they may no longer grow hair.
People who brush, style, treat or wash their hair excessively sometimes cause damage over time and experience hair loss. Additionally, there are health conditions that contribute to permanent hair thinning and baldness. Hormones may trigger a follicle to stop growing, shrink, or produce thinner and shorter hairs.
What Is Too Much Hair Loss?
While the words hair shedding and loss may seem to say the same thing, there are substantial differences.
Individuals go through periods where they lose more hair than usual. This happens because of life stressors, weight loss, body changes and illnesses. People sometimes shed large amounts of hair after a high fever, for instance. In these intermittent cases, hair growth sometimes resumes after six months to a year at its regular pace.
Hair loss occurs when hair follicles stop growing altogether. There are hereditary issues and medical conditions that lead to hair loss. Some personal habits and care routines are also reasons you may have damage that causes hair loss.
If you have conditions that lead to thinning or severe hair loss, a medical consultation may be advised.
What Are the Signs of Hair Loss?
Hair loss appears in different forms. Here are some of the most prevalent signs and symptoms:
Hair thinning on the scalp
Thinning occurs in both men and women. You may see it on different areas of the scalp. In men, it’s often the hairline that’s receding, while women often notice a wider part.
Pattern hair loss
Androgenic alopecia, which emerges in patches and circular patterns, is the most common type of hair loss for men and women. This is referred to as male and female pattern baldness. While men may have completely bald spots, women usually have general thinning throughout.
Scaling and redness
With some medical conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, long-term scaling or hardening of the skin can cause hair loss.
Complete hair loss
An autoimmune disorder, alopecia areata can result in hair loss over the entire body.
How Can I Check Hair Fall at Home?
If you have anxiety about how much hair loss is normal, these are two simple tests to perform at home:
- Comb test: Standing over a light-colored surface, comb your hair from back to front with your head tipped forward. After a minute of combing, check the number of hair strands that have come out. If the number exceeds 10 to 15, this may be a sign of abnormal hair loss.
- Pull test: Take a section of hair between your fingers. As you move your fingers through, gently pull the hair. If more than 15 to 20 strands are in your hand, this may indicate an abnormal amount of hair fall.
Before you panic, remember that most conditions, even genetic ones, have solutions.
It’s also essential to avoid getting stressed over hair issues. Stress is a contributor to hair loss, and people who worry too much may, quite literally, pull their hair out. An excellent whole health regimen with a proper diet and exercise can help; relax and be good to yourself, and let your hair down from all your daily concerns.
When Should I Consult a Dermatologist?
If you’re experiencing abnormal hair loss, the time to consult a dermatologist is now. Getting prompt treatment means a greater likelihood of repairing or reversing certain conditions. FDA-approved medications are available that can help maintain hair density and promote new hair growth, and with the help of a trained physician, hair loss can be slowed, stopped, and even reversed (affordably, too)
One of the advantages of today’s always-online world is the revolutionary move toward telemedicine services. With telemedicine, doctors can diagnose conditions from a distance using images or videos. Prescriptions and treatments can be sent to the patient, if approved. Appointments and consultations are conducted by smartphones, tablets or computers using email, video and chats. These medical services often save time and money and allow doctors to serve people across larger geographical locations.
Telemedicine is particularly useful in hair loss, where dermatology visits can be wildly expensive and wait-times weeks or months.
At Shapiro MD, our telemedicine platform is the latest in our quest to solve hair loss. With a simple medical intake form, a licensed Shapiro MD physician can diagnose and treat your condition, if appropriate, all without leaving home. We offer FDA-approved treatments, custom prescription formulations, medical devices, and easy-to-use natural shampoos & conditioners to assist you in getting noticeable results.