Do you see clumps of your hair on your comb or near the bathroom drain? Are you worried that you are losing too much hair? Hold that thought for a moment! You might be just shedding your hair. Does that mean hair shedding is way different from hair loss? Yes! According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), shedding 50-100 hair strands a day is normal (1). But if you are losing more than 100 strands per day, you need to dig deep. This post helps you understand the normal hair fall for both women and men and the difference between hair loss and hair shedding. We also tell you why you could be losing your hair and what you can do about it.
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How Much Hair Fall Per Day Is Normal?
Shedding 50-100 hair strands per day is normal, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) (1). There are about 80,000 – 120,000 hairs on the human head, and healthy hair growth occurs at a rate of 0.35 mm/day. At this rate, your hair length grows at 0.5 inches/month and 6 inches/year (2). It is important to note that your hair goes through the cycle of growth, resting, and shedding. Hair that gets shed is replaced by new hair.
At any given time, about 85% – 90% of hair follicles are in the growth phase (2). The remaining hairs are in the resting or shedding phase. Hence, losing hair could also mean you are shedding the old, dead hair and allowing space for new and healthy hair to grow.
Let us look at the difference between hair shedding and hair loss to understand the phenomenon better.
Difference Between Hair Shedding And Hair Loss
While hair shedding means your hair does grow back, hair loss can lead to balding.
Hair shedding is a normal part of the hair growth cycle. However, you may also shed excessive hair due to external stimuli. This condition is medically termed as telogen effluvium. It can affect men or women regardless of race and age, though it affects more women than men (3). The good news is that the hair grows back when the external stimuli or stressors are reduced (1).
At times, the body’s immune system starts attacking the hair follicles. This causes hair loss and balding. If you see patches of hairless areas on your scalp, you could be having a medical condition known as alopecia areata. This condition is hereditary and may develop in childhood or adolescence (4).
The following section lists the estimated average normal hair fall in women and men during various stages/situations in their lives.
Estimates Of Normal Hair Fall For Women And Men
- Normal hair fall for women: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall for men: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall while combing: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall while washing hair: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall while oiling hair: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall post pregnancy: 300 – 400 per day
- Normal hair fall for during menopause: 200 – 300 per day
- Normal hair fall in monsoon: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall in summer: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall in winter: 50 – 100 per day
- Normal hair fall in teenagers: 50 – 100 per day
Are you losing more hair than the above estimates? That could happen due to many reasons. Let us explore them in the next section.
Reasons You Are Losing Hair
You could be losing hair due to the following reasons:
- Stress: Physiological or emotional stress causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol, in excess amounts, affects the growth cycle regulation of hair follicles (5). Several studies show that stress is directly related to alopecia areata (excessive shedding of hair in patches leaving bald patches on the scalp). Stress can also lead to premature termination of hair follicle growth as it increases inflammation and up-regulates keratinocyte (cells found at the base of the skin layer) apoptosis (cell death) (6).
- Unhealthy Diet: An unhealthy diet causes nutritional deficiency that affects hair health and growth. Deficiencies of biotin, riboflavin, folate, and vitamin B12 are associated with hair loss. Vitamin C and iron deficiency can also affect hair growth and hair strength. Lack of adequate selenium and zinc can also cause hair issues – as these nutrients help stimulate hair growth (7). A 2017 study also confirmed that a deficiency in essential amino acids could also lead to female pattern hair loss (8).
- Hereditary History: About 80% of men, by the age of 80, get affected by male pattern hair loss (9). Research shows that androgenic alopecia, or male pattern hair loss, is dependent on family history and age (10). If you have a parent or a grandparent with a history of hair loss, you may also lose hair.
- Thyroid Issues: Thyroid issues can also cause alopecia areata (11). T3 and/or T4 modulate the hair follicle cycle and pigmentation (12). Women, especially in the perimenopause and postmenopause age group, are more prone to thyroid dysfunction (13). This dysfunction causes hormonal imbalances and leads to hair loss.
- Post-Pregnancy Period: Women’s bodies experience hormonal changes and undergo excess stress during and after pregnancy. This also can lead to excessive hair shedding due to the disruption of the hair growth cycle (14).
- Menopause: Menopause decreases estrogen production and may directly lead to hair loss and affect hair texture (15).
- Excessive Hair Styling: Excessive heat styling, coloring, treating, and adding products to your hair can lead to product buildup, an imbalanced scalp pH, and dandruff. All of these could lead to hair shedding. Tight hairstyles, like a tight ponytail, can also cause hair shedding in the front part of the head. which is also known as tractional alopecia.
These could be the main reasons you are shedding or losing your hair. But you do not have to stop there. There is almost always something you can do to mitigate the issue.
What Can You Do If Are Losing Too Much Hair
- See A Doctor: Whether you face excessive hair loss or hair fall, it is recommended to see a doctor and find the root cause. Your doctor will take your medical and genetic history, lifestyle, and age into consideration and run a few tests before giving you expert advice.
- Take Supplements: Vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids, and healthy fats play a crucial role in hair growth, strength, and texture. Vitamin B12, iron, selenium, vitamin C, and fish oil supplements are great for hair. However, you must consult with a licensed doctor/nutritionist to determine the dosage of such vitamins. Excessive supplementation can also lead to hair loss.
- Take Less Stress: To save your tresses, take less stress! Take a walk, exercise regularly, paint, talk to your friends, travel, learn a new skill, and meditate. Such activities reduce stress and stress-induced inflammation in your body.
- Get A Head Massage: A hot oil head massage is an effective way to improve blood circulation in your scalp and improve the strength of the hair roots. You may use virgin coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil for this purpose. Heat it for a few seconds, let it cool a bit, and massage the hair roots with the oil. Apply it to the hair shafts to get healthy and shiny hair. Avoid head massages if you have seborrheic dermatitis, and it is the main cause of your hair loss.
- Use A Gentle Shampoo: Avoid using shampoos with harsh chemicals like parabens or phthalates. Use a gentle shampoo (that contains no harmful chemicals) to wash your hair twice a week.
- Go For A Hair Spa: Going for a hair spa once every month also helps restore hair vitality and strength. You can also do a hair spa at home. After massaging your hair with hot oil, use a steamer to steam your hair. You may also dip a towel in warm water, squeeze out the water, and wrap the towel on your head. Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo. Apply a conditioner before rinsing.
Losing 50 – 100 hair strands per day is normal. Pregnant women or women going through menopause may lose 200 – 300 hair strands per day. However, if you are losing more hair, visit a doctor. Understand if your hair loss is resulting from hormonal imbalances, stress, heredity, or any other underlying medical cause. Right advice, good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and a good hair care routine can help improve your hair health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is losing 200 hair strands a day normal?
Yes, losing 200 hair strands a day is normal if you are pregnant or a new mother or are going through menopause. Otherwise, losing 200 hair strands a day is not normal. Talk to a licensed doctor to arrive at a solution.
How can you tell if you are losing too much hair?
You know you are losing too much hair when you see a receding hairline or bald patches.
Is it normal to lose hair every day?
Absolutely! It is normal to lose 50 – 100 hair strands every day. Hair follicle cells go through the growth phase, resting phase, and shedding phase. The human head contains about 80,000 to 120,000 hair strands, and about 95% of them are in the growth phase. The remaining strands are in the resting or shedding phase. Do not be alarmed if you are losing a few hairs every day.
How long does hair loss from stress last?
Hair loss or hair shedding from stress is also known as telogen effluvium. It lasts for about six months. Usually, the hair grows back once you reduce stress and start following a healthy diet and lifestyle.
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