Every man and woman who comes to my clinic is concerned about hair loss. It can be quite demoralizing to see your precious hair strands literally go down the drain. But it is quite normal to lose some hair daily, whether or not you suffer from male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness. So what is “normal” shedding, and can you stop hair shedding altogether?
Some hair shedding is normal
The average adult person has approximately 100,000 hairs on their head. Every day approximately 80-100 hairs are shed, whether a person is experiencing advanced hair loss or no hair loss at all. These strands of hair often end up in a comb or brush, your pillow, or in the shower drain. For those suffering hair loss, this can be very alarming, but it is actually completely normal, because hair grows in cycles. Each cycle last between four and seven years, and consist of phases, called the anagen, catagen and telogen phase, as illustrated in this image below.
In people who are not experiencing hair loss, the anagen phase begins the cycle anew once the old hair follicle is shed. So in that sense, shedding hair is normal, natural, and you should not try to stop your hair from shedding.
Even if you did try to stop your hair from shedding, you would not succeed, because the old hair follicle will be released from the scalp to make way for the new one regardless of shampoos, conditioners, potions, pollutants, or any other substance or factor. There is an entire cottage industry devoted to selling people products that prevent hair from shedding. Some are even reputable companies. But please, don’t buy it, neither literally nor figuratively.
But hair shedding is causing me to go bald!
I realize that this can be distressing, but it’s actually not the shedding that is causing your hair loss, it’s the lack of new growth in the anagen phase. The follicles naturally fall out, but a new one either grows back finer/thinner or does not grow back in, which results in true hair loss over time. This lack of new growth can have a number of causes, but in general you can blame genetics. Learn more about the causes of hair loss in women and the causes of hair loss in men.
You can’t stop hair shedding but you may be able to stop your hair loss
Fortunately, many scientific advances have been made in recent years that can result in successfully halting or even reversing hair loss. Learn more about how to keep the hair you have through preventative medical interventions such as Rogaine, or how a follicular unit hair transplant can effectively move follicles from a place where many robust hairs still exist (like the back of your head) to the thinning areas.
Please note that if you are losing hair in clumps or in a dramatic or accelerated fashion, the facts in this post do not apply to your situation, and you should seek medical attention immediately. Hormonal imbalances, anemia, thyroid problems, severe illness, crash dieting or a scarring skin condition can also cause increased hair loss. These topics are also outside the scope of this post, and medical attention should be sought.)
Dr. James Harris is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, inventor of patented follicular unit excision technology, published author in the field of hair restoration and an advocate for patient care. Learn more about Dr. Harris or read rave reviews from his patients.