How much hair loss is normal?
We all lose hair so it’s not strange to wonder how much hair loss is normal. On average, men and women shed about 50-100 strands of hair every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This is normal hair shedding and means that the hair strand has gone through the entire growth cycle, with the hair follicle shrinking and detaching from the dermal papilla. A new hair strand normally follows.
Hair loss vs. hair shedding
If your hair is shedding more than average, it may be an indication of excessive hair shedding: telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium happens when there is a decline of new hair growth due to an increase of dormant hair follicles in the resting phase, which is known as telogen.
Excessive hair shedding can be caused by a stressful event such as weight loss, giving birth, an illness with high fever, emotional stress, physical trauma, prescription medications, and nutritional deficiency. During this time, the hair grows thinner and finer. The good thing is that telogen effluvium is temporary, and when treated, the hair stops shedding and returns to normal fullness.
Hair loss is more concerning. This occurs when a follicle exits the cycle of hair growth and shedding, or when the hair follicle is destroyed. This form of hair loss is called anagen effluvium. Hair loss is characterized by thinning hair and miniaturization (when hair becomes thin, short, brittle and weak), then baldness. If not proactively treated, the hair may not grow.
Hair loss can be caused by various factors including stress-induced hormonal imbalance, illness, genetic predisposition, poor diet and nutrition, age, medications such as chemotherapy and radiation, rapid weight loss, or other diseases. Using harsh hair products, harsh handling of hair, and styling can also cause hair loss. The most common cause of hair shedding is poor nutrition.
Possible solutions for healthier hair
Possible treatments for telogen effluvium depends on the factor that activated it.
- Stress-reduction techniques: If your hair thinning is stress-related, you can find creative ways to reduce your stress. There are a number of ways to reduce stress including: yoga and exercise, meditation, breathing deeply, talking to people within your social network, decompressing, listening to soothing music, etc.
According to WebMD, there are certain types of foods that have stress-busting effects. These include oatmeal, whole-grain breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals, simple carbs, oranges, spinach, black tea, nuts such as almonds and pistachios, among others.
- Modify your diet and/or take a multi-vitamin supplement: To maintain and protect hair follicles and overall health, you may want to increase your daily intake of foods that contain vitamins and minerals to support healthy hair such as Vitamins A, B Complexes (such as Biotin and Folic Acid), C, D, E, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, silica, and zinc, or begin dietary supplementation of these vitamins and minerals.
- Take a hair health supplement: A beneficial remedy may be taking a supplement specifically for hair health. There are many supplements for hair health on the market today that can give you strong healthy hair in a holistic way. In other words, these supplements may not only provide the necessary vitamins and minerals your hair needs, but also provide special herbal ingredients that target the root causes of decreased hair health. Take the time to learn more about multi-ingredient supplements available, and if any would be helpful for you.
- Modify your hair care processes and products: Here are some simple changes that you can make to help prevent hair breakage that can eventually cause hair loss:
- Avoid blow-drying your hair. Instead, wrap your wet hair in a towel or allow it to air dry.
- Avoid using shampoos or conditioners with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), an ingredient added to many personal care products to help them foam, but is known to be a skin irritant.
- Minimize combing or brushing wet hair, since wet hair is easier to break.
- Minimize brushing your hair on a daily basis.
- Reduce the use of stiffening hair sprays or other harsh hair styling products.
- Avoid using flat irons on daily basis, and use at a lower heat setting.
- Hair extensions, braids and pony tails can pull the hair causing breakage. Instead, opt for more loose hair styles.
- The American Academy of Dermatology – Hair loss vs hair shedding
- WebMD – Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress
- WebMD – Foods that Help Tame Stress
- The American Academy of Dermatology – Hair styling without damage