It is common to get concerned when you find hair on your pillow or on your bed on waking up in the morning; finding hair clustered near the drain after a shower or noticing a lot of hair falling out when combing your hair. However, rarely patients know that 50-100 hair can be lost in a day and still be considered normal. Patients don't often know that it can just be due to increased shedding and not necessarily due to hair loss.
You would wonder- What's the difference? The adult head has an average of about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and can lose up to 100 of them a day. At any one time, about 90% of the hair on a person's scalp is growing. Each follicle has its own life cycle and this life cycle is divided into three phases:
• Anagen: Active hair growth which lasts for two to six years
• Catagen: Transitional hair growth that lasts two to three weeks
• Telogen: Resting phase that lasts about two to three months; at the end of the resting phase the hair is shed and a new hair replaces it and the growing cycle starts again.
The duration of the hair follicle life cycle can be influenced by age, disease, and a wide variety of other factors:
When you lose more than the normally expected number of hair in a day, then the patient is said to have excessive shedding and as the volume of hair on scalp decreases which gives a thinned outlook on the scalp. This excessive hair shedding commonly occurs when the patient has had a recent episode of stress. This stress refers to the stress on the growth cycle of the follicle which can be affected by various factors. A recent history of losing weight, post delivery, recent illness, discontinuation of certain medications like birth control pills, use of harsh hair products, or mental stressors from a strain in personal or professional life. These episodes can result in increased shedding of hair and the condition is called telogen effluvium. The increased shedding can continue for a few months after the stressful event. However, if the stressor continues to be a part of your life it can also lead to long-term continued shedding which is then termed as chronic telogen effluvium. As your body readjusts, the hair shedding reduces and hair begins to regain its normal fullness over 6 - 9 months.
Hair Loss which is different from Hair Shedding:
Hair loss occurs when the volume of hair over your head decreases due to reduced growth of hair. Hair loss can occur due to a number of reasons such as patterned hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), hereditary hair loss due to genetic predisposition, immune system derangements, certain drugs or medications, hormonal imbalance, hair follicle infections. From these causes, androgenetic alopecia is the most common of hair loss. It affects 20% of men by the age of 20, 30% by the age of 30 and 40% of men by the age of 40. It is imperative to seek help and consultation from a qualified professional. A proper examination by a certified and qualified dermatologist is needed to properly assess the situation so that appropriate treatment can be advised accordingly. If you are bothered with your hair thinning there is no longer any need for you to suffer in silence.
Dermatologists are doctors who are specialized in diagnosing and treating skin, hair and nail. A dermatologist can examine appropriately and help you figure out if you are suffering from hair loss or hair shedding. The dermatologist can recommend any investigations that would be needed to figure out the cause and target the problem efficiently. Effective treatment options are available for many types of hair loss. However, the sooner the treatment begins, the easier it is to reverse the damage and better the prognosis.