How Much Hair Loss is Normal?
Many people are concerned with hair loss, and catching it early enough to make the most of treatment. In this article, we will discuss some possible early signs of hair loss, how much hair loss to expect on a normal day, and possible treatments you can use to help maintain your hair.
The Hair Growth Cycle
As our hair grows, it follows a cycle of growth and shedding. Firstly, the hair follicle will enter the Growth (anagen) phase, where it is actively producing hair. This phase normally lasts between 2-6 years, though it can vary depending on your health and other factors.
Once the Growth phase ends, the hair moves into the Transition (catagen) phase. Here, the follicle begins to shrink, active hair growth stops, and the blood flow to the follicle is reduced.
This is then followed by the Resting (telogen) phase. In this phase, the hair detaches from the follicle, and the follicle enters a form of stasis while holding the hair. Once the Shedding (exogen) phase kicks in, the hair is released from the follicle. This leaves the follicle ready to begin preparations to enter the Anagen phase again, continuing the hair growth cycle.
Under normal circumstances, roughly 10-15% of your hair is in the Telogen phase at any given point. The average person will lose between 50 and 150 hairs per day, from brushing, combing or washing your hair. You may also see a few hairs on your pillow each morning. These shed overnight, and can be removed from the scalp by tossing and turning while you sleep.
Causes of Hair Loss
Many people who are worried about hair loss find themselves concerned with how much hair loss is normal in the shower. Normal hair loss in the shower is limited to a few dozen strands. The mechanical action of washing your hair removes hairs that are in the Telogen and Exogen phases.
Normally, you won’t even notice these hairs being removed. If your hair is long this may still be enough to block your shower drain. If you notice large clumps of hair in the shower drain, ensure you are clearing it daily. If these large clumps are occurring every time you shower, it may be worth checking your hair to make sure there are no bald patches or hidden areas that are shedding more than usual.
You may also notice a larger amount of hair falling out when you brush your hair. Again, this is normally only a few strands. If you are noticing larger clumps, check your hair for thinning spots and patches.
One possible cause of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia (sometimes called male of female pattern baldness). This form of hair loss is due to the body metabolising testosterone into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This hormone causes the follicles to enter the telogen and exogen phases, but not prepare to enter the anagen phase again. This leads to these follicles entering a form of stasis, where they are starved of blood flow and eventually die off.
This process can be treated; Propecia (and its generic equivalent, Finasteride) reduce the effects of testosterone in the body. This prevents it from being converted into DHT, and thus slowing the process of hair loss. In some cases, it can even cause new growth from previously static follicles, though this can vary from patient to patient.
Another treatment of note is Regaine. Regaine’s active ingredient, minoxidil, encourages blood vessels to expand on the scalp. This creates better blood flow to the follicles to make hair thicker and stronger.
Regaine can also cause new growth, as the blood vessels provide nutrients to follicles which had fallen into stasis. This reactivates the follicles, reducing hair loss. Regaine has been formulated for use by men and women, and can help create thicker, stronger hair.
Another cause of hair loss may be telogen effluvium. This condition can be caused by a wide number of factors, but the most common are stress and extreme physiological stressors. This can include chronic stress and anxiety, or medical conditions which put a lot of pressure on your body’s systems. This extra pressure causes a disturbance in the natural hair cycle, creating excessive hair shedding.
Luckily, telogen effluvium is mostly self-regulating. Once the stressor has been removed or dealt with, the hair cycle can restart anew. This does mean that while some treatments may help, many are not suitable for use until your hair is recovering.