If you notice more hairs in your hairbrush than usual, you might be worried about losing your hair. Whether you are a man or a woman, the thought of going bald can be devastating. It can be hard to tell whether you have normal hair loss or a more serious problem.
Normal Hair Loss
Everyone loses some hair each day. It is normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. You should see some evidence of normal hair loss on your brush, comb, or pillow each day.
It is also normal to shed a little more hair after stressful events, such as losing 20 pounds or more, giving birth, high fevers, recovering from an illness or an operation, and difficult emotional events. Dermatologists refer to this as hair shedding, which normally begins a month or two after the stressful circumstance and last for a few weeks. This shedding is temporary and hair regains its normal fullness within six to nine months.
This cycle of hair loss is due to the regular growth pattern of hair. Hair follicles produce hair during the growth stage of the cycle, known as the anagen phase, which lasts for two or more years. The hair follicles then enter a rest stage, known as the telogen phase, and produce no hair for up to two months.
During normal hair loss, 80 to 90 percent of hair follicles are in the productive anagen phase and 10 to 20 percent are in the dormant telogen phase.
When Hair Loss Goes Beyond Normal
Androgenetic alopecia, better known as male pattern baldness when it occurs in men, is a common form of hair loss that actually affects both genders. In men, this condition causes the hairline to recede into the classic “M” shape. The condition causes thinning hair in women but does not cause the receding hairline.
Telogen effluvium, or TE, occurs when there is a change in the proportion of follicles in the anagen and telogen phases. Left untreated, dormant hair follicles will outnumber active ones, leading to areas of thinned hair.
Hair treatments include topical preparations such as Rogaine (minoxidil) to stimulate new growth, Propecia (finasteride) for male pattern baldness, and hair transplantation that relocates plugs of scalp containing active hair follicles.