Normal Hair Loss

Normal Hair Loss

Hair with plenty of volume, movement, and shine is what most people consider healthy. So when you look down at the drain and see a clump of lost hair strands, it’s easy to assume that there’s a health problem causing hair loss. But some hair loss is normal for everyone and at every age.

When you wash your hair thoroughly in the shower, hairs that are already loose or disconnected from your scalp congregate near the drain. While it might look like a lot, you’re probably seeing normal hair shedding.

If you’re experiencing hair loss that’s unusual for you, including bald spots, patchiness, and clumps of hair falling out, you should see your primary care physician or dermatologist. Keep reading to find out if you are shedding a normal amount of hair each day.

Women tend to lose more hair strands per day than men. There’s no way to measure the difference objectively, because daily heat styling and frequent hair coloring plays a big part in how much of your hair sheds. Approximately 40 percent of women lose extra hair every day 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.

Some daily hair loss is normal. Increased hair loss can be a result of stress or a health condition. Other potential causes of hair loss include:

  • alopecia

  • female & male pattern hair loss

  • thyroid conditions

  • lupus

  • nutritional deficiencies

  • Telogen effluvium

Hair and its appearance contributes greatly to our self-esteem – hair loss may be interpreted as some form of illness or a diminished vitality. Studies have indicated that hair loss has had a detrimental effect in the efforts of men and women persuing high profile careers as well as children and adolescents persuing their education.

 

The main symptom of telogen effluvium is an increase in the amount of hair a person sheds.

Someone may notice that more hair than usual is falling out when they wash or brush their hair. They may also find more hair in the drain or on their pillow.

  • Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event. It usually occurs on the top of the scalp.

  • Telogen effluvium is different from the hair loss disorder called alopecia areata. Large amounts of a person’s hair might fall out, but it is often temporary, and the hair usually grows back.

A person is described as having chronic telogen effluvium, if they frequently experience periods of hair shedding for more than 6 months. 

Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss characterized by hair thinning or an increase in hair shedding. It occurs more often in women and is usually triggered by a disturbance to the hair cycle. It is generally reversible. A person with this condition does not lose all their hair, although it may become noticeably thin.

The hair cycle typically has three phases:

  • Anagen or growth phase
  • Catagen or transitional phase
  • Telogen or resting phase

Telogen effluvium is associated with the telogen phase. Normally, 5 to 10 percent of a person’s hair is in the telogen phase at any one time.

With telogen effluvium, the anagen phase slows down, meaning that fewer hairs enter the next two stages. With this condition, around 30 percent of the hair follicles move into the telogen phase, which means that hair shedding occurs.

Androgenetic alopecia is a common form of hair loss in both men and women.

In men, this condition is also known as male-pattern baldness. Hair is lost in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples. Over time, the hairline recedes to form a characteristic "M" shape. Hair also thins at the crown (near the top of the head), often progressing to partial or complete baldness.

The pattern of hair loss in women differs from male-pattern baldness. In women, the hair becomes thinner all over the head, and the hairline does not recede. Androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to total baldness.

Excessive washing, bleaching, brushing, and heat styling can also have an impact on how much of your hair falls out every day. Once your hair follicle has been stretched or split as a result of a cosmetic hair treatment, the structure of the hair follicle is compromised.

Shedding

During the resting period of the cycle, the hair follicle is reaching the point of detachment and the bulb of the hair shaft moves closer to the surface of the scalp. As time passes during this period, shampooing and other movement on the scalp will cause the hair to disengage from the scalp. This is part of the normal shedding process. We shed an average of 50-100 hairs per day. Under normal conditions new hairs grow to replace each hair that has been shed, keeping the average number of growing hairs about the same at all times. Hair loss may involve many unknown factors, however, healthy hair is part of the over all good health of any person and is directly related to healthy conscientious nutrition. A well balanced diet may not interfere with a genetic predisposition – however it will support the health and appearance of the hair that is retained on your head.

50 Hair Example:

For the first example, we have a person with about 100,000 active hair follicles on their scalp, with a 60 month average growth period, and a 3 month average rest period. On average they will shed about 1/63 (60 months +3 months ) of their hairs in any given month, or about 1,500 hairs every 30 days. This works out to about 50 hairs per day, and would be normal hair loss.

100 Hair Example:

In our second example, a person with 120,000 active hair follicles, a 36 month average growth period, and a 3 month average rest period, will shed about 1/40th (36 +3) of their hairs in a given month, or about 3,000 hairs. This works out to about 100 hairs per day, and would be normal hair loss.

New Hairs Grow:

Under normal conditions, approximately the same number of new hairs will just start growing to replace the hairs that have been shed, so the average number of growing hairs remains about the same all the time.

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Kathy W.
Cashmere, WA 
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