Ladies, let’s talk about hair loss. If you’ve ever been unnerved by the amount of hair in your shower drain, you are far from alone. Millions of women experience hair loss or thinning for a variety of reasons that range from stress to hormones to genetics. Read on to learn more.
It’s totally normal for a woman to naturally shed 100 to 150 hairs a day (that’s about the size of a golf ball if you were to bunch it all up together). If you don’t wash your hair every day, you may notice more shedding on shower days and less on days in between, since hair is weaker when wet.
Losing more hair than this may not be normal, but it’s not uncommon either, says Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a hair transplant surgeon at The Women’s Center For Hair Loss in New York City and Miami. The practice notes that forty percent of women have visible hair loss by age 40. “It can start as young as the early 20s, and usually becomes more common around menopause,” says Dr. Epstein.
If you feel like you’re losing hair in excessive amounts, keep reading for some possible causes and how to take action.
Why Your Hair Might be Falling Out
Unfortunately one of the most common causes of hair loss is genetics. “This results in female pattern baldness at the front and top of scalp,” says Dr. Christine Shaver, an NYC-based dermatologist who specializes in hair loss.
Your diet, stress level, and hormonal changes like pregnancy and menopause can all contribute to temporary, excessive hair shedding, also known as telogen effluvium. Because of the hair growth cycle, you might experience the hair loss after the fact. So if you’re stumped as to why you’re experiencing it now, think back to what was going on in your life a few months ago.
Another cause could be your hairstyling choices. Traction alopecia is the result of tight, hair-pulling looks like braids, high ponytails, and top knots. The good news is that it can take years for this level of damage to occur, so if you have yet to see breakage from a tight style, you have time to give your hair a breather. Make sure to switch things up style-wise and to use fabric or snag-free hair ties.
Finally, on the difficult-to-treat end of the spectrum are inflammatory diseases like lichen planopilaris, a scalp disease that results in permanent hair loss.
What You Can Do About It
Preventing and reacting to hair loss is “a multi-factorial process,” says Dr. Shaver. Start by simply taking care of your health. Avoid crash-dieting and eat lots of nutrient-rich foods (iron is especially important for hair growth), try to keep stress low, and avoid exposing hair to heat or chemicals.
Keeping the scalp healthy with shampoo that effectively removes dirt and bacteria (try the AMH Shampoo, a hair growth-promoting cleansing shampoo with salicylic acid) can help too – just don’t over-cleanse.
When to Seek Professional Care and Who to See
You can see a hair restoration surgeon if there’s one in your area, though your dermatologist should be able to help.
“Dermatologists are trained to know about a variety of hair loss of conditions and can perform a scalp biopsy [if needed],” says. Dr. Shaver. A derm who specializes in hair loss like her will have even more advanced knowledge of the topic. If you’re experiencing itching, pain, or burning sensations, it’s definitely time to make an appointment. And even you’re just concerned about the amount of hair you’re losing, there’s no harm in getting assessed. “Do not wait. If it is noticeable and/or bothersome, it is vital to nip it in the bud,” says Dr. Epstein.
If you’re experiencing hair loss, remember that you’re not alone. Be patient, see a specialist, and most importantly, treat your hair and your body well.