It can be alarming to find clumps of hair in your comb or shower drain, and you may worry that it's a sign of severe hair loss. But some hair shedding is normal for everyone, no matter their age. Read on to learn how much shedding is considered typical, and when you should start worrying.
Hair grows in cycles. There's a growth stage that lasts anywhere from 2 to 8 years, followed by a resting stage where nothing happens for up to 5 months. When the growth cycle restarts, hairs fall out, and new ones grow in to take their place. In addition to this cycle, we also typically lose around 50 to 100 hairs per day.
When we wash of style hair, hairs that are already loose or disconnected from the scalp come out and gather in the drain or on the floor. For people with longer hair strands, losing 50 to 100 hairs a day may look more noticeable. While it might seem like a lot, what you're probably seeing is normal hair shedding. And since there are 100,000 hair follicles or more on each person's scalp, the loss of 100 or so hair strands a day doesn't usually make a noticeable difference.
Shedding Versus Hair Loss
There is a difference between hair loss and shedding. Hair shedding is completely normal. Hair can sometimes shed more after a major life stressor or certain body changes. Losing 20 lbs (or more), giving birth, having a high fever, eliminating birth control pills, or caring for a loved one can contribute to more hair shedding.
Excessive hair shedding usually lasts for six to nine months, and then the hair growth returns to normal. However, when the loss exceeds 125 hairs per day, it’s no longer just considered shedding.
Hair loss, on the other hand, is when something happens that stops the hair from growing. This could include hereditary hair loss, losing hair because of a medication like chemotherapy, harsh hair care products, or having a compulsion to pull hair out. Physical and emotional stress can also contribute to excessive hair loss. Other reasons include lifestyle upsets and changes in diet. Many prescription drugs like antidepressants, anti-acne prescriptions, and some forms of birth control can also temporarily disrupt the hair's growth cycle.
In these cases, the hair will not regrow until the cause stops—though that’s not possible in every case (such as genetics).
If you don’t have a serious medical condition that causes hair loss, correcting your hair care routine or lifestyle may get your hair back on track. Too frequent shampooing, heat styling, and chemical products can all weaken hair and cause breakage. Excessive use of a hairbrush can also result in increased shedding.
But realize that shampooing or styling hair less frequently can also make shedding seem worse because it allows loose hair to build up and then all come out all at once.
Women usually tend to lose more hair strands per day than men because daily heat styling and frequent hair coloring affect how much hair sheds. Most women lose extra hair every day simply because of the way they style it. Women are also more likely than men to experience periods of increased hair shedding due to life events like pregnancy and menopause.
If you are worried that it's more than just shedding, there is a test you can do. Run your fingers through a small area of clean, dry hair and tug gently when you reach the ends. If more than two or three strands are in your hand after each tug, you may be experiencing hair loss, not shedding. A good rule of thumb is no more than ten hairs per 100 strands should come out.
If you’re experiencing hair loss that’s unusual for you, including bald spots, patchiness, and clumps of hair falling out, Nashville Hair Clinic can help you determine the cause. Contact us today or call 615-257-1496 for a comprehensive evaluation.