Knowing that hair loss is normal and quite common is a huge relief. Hair loss affects millions of men and women in the U.S. But how much hair loss is usual, and how can you tell if you’re losing too much?
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Normal Hair Loss vs. Severe Hair Loss
According to research done by Science Daily, it's normal to lose up to 100 strands of hair per day. The study is based on the fact that the average human scalp contains approximately 100,000 strands of hair, 10% of which are in the resting phase. Hair in this phase, popularly known as the telogen phase, is preparing to detach from your scalp to create room for the newly growing hair strands.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is normal to shed between 50 and 100 strands of hair each day, depending on hair thickness and length. If your hair is longer, you are likely to shed more hair. Of course, other factors such as age, medical conditions, and diet play a huge role in any sudden amount of hair shedding per day.
Excessive hair shedding, known as telogen effluvium, occurs when significantly more hair falls out after a shocking or stressful experience. The stress pushes hair into its resting or telogen phase, causing those hairs to fall out. A doctor will be able to help you distinguish between severe hair loss and normal hair shedding.
Signs of Normal Hair Loss
Your hair falls out when you wash it.
On days when you wash your hair, you are likely to notice more hair shedding (around 150 to 200 strands). This is because people don’t usually wash their hair daily, and when they do, shampooing and conditioning will likely increase the shedding due to buildup on the scalp.
Some shampoos have harsh chemicals like sulfates that cause hair breakage increasing hair loss. Additionally, people notice hair shedding after the shower when combing through their hair, also expected.
However, if you notice more hair in the tub, consider changing your products to gentler without harsh chemicals. And if the hair loss is increasing at an alarming rate, kindly consult with your doctor or dermatologist.
Your hair falling out while brushing.
If you love styling your hair with your hairbrush every morning, it might be scary to see an increased amount of hair on your brush.
However, hair shedding while brushing is normal, especially after the shower. Excessive brushing with a bristle brush or small tooth comb can also trigger hair loss, so brush moderately using a wide-tooth comb.
Additionally, if the hair strands you see on the brush are broken or shorter, changes in hair products and styling, diet, and lifestyle can help you strengthen your remaining hair strands.
How Can I Tell If I'm Losing Too Much Hair?
Knowing to which extent hair loss is average is essential to know when you're losing too much hair.
You see more of your scalp.
Not everyone has a head full of thick hair, and it's okay to see a part of your scalp, especially when wearing a ponytail. But if you start to see more and more of it and notice the hair follicles are wider apart, or your hair is patchy, it may signify you're losing too much hair.
You end up with a bulk of hair strands when you run fingers through your hair.
If you run your fingers through your hair, it's normal to have about five to eight strands in your hands. However, if you do the same for already untangled hair and end up with a handful of hair, or more than 15 strands, it's a sign your hair is shedding more than it should be.
Your ponytail feels different.
If you're fond of styling your hair into a ponytail, you may start realizing it appears different. It may appear smaller or require more turns with your hairband to stay put. This is a sign that your hair strands are either breaking or shedding, and it's time to consider better hair care methods. Avoid hair in styles that require constant tension on your scalp, like braids or tight ponytails.
Wine Ponytail by Ellen Wille
You're losing more hair strands in the 60-second hair count test
Have you heard of the 60-second hair count test? It involves combing your hair from back to front for one minute over a towel. After you're done, you count the hair strands you lost. This will give you an idea of how much hair you're losing and how fast it's progressing.
If you lose more than ten hair strands in the process, it may be time to rethink your hair care routine.
When to Seek Professional Help
Not all types of hair loss require medical help. For example, if you just gave birth and you're just experiencing postpartum hair loss, that's most-likely temporary. On the other hand, if you start experiencing sudden rapid hair loss, it might be a symptom of an underlying health condition. In this case, it's best to consult your doctor.
Remember that the earlier you start treating the root of the problem, the faster you'll strengthen and regrow your hair. In the meantime, you can explore other hairstyles such as wigs, hair toppers, head scarfs, and caps to give your hair a break.
Like leaves on a tree, our hair also goes through some growth cycles that include shedding. Additionally, the fate of our hair is tied into so many things such as age, genetics, metabolism, lifestyle, and nutrition, just to mention a few.
Always aim to live a healthy lifestyle by avoiding anything known to trigger hair loss. Eat a healthy diet rich in fatty acids, nutrients, and protein.