Hair Loss: What’s Normal and When Should You Be Concerned?

If you’ve recently noticed some extra follicles on your pillow in the morning, or in the drain after you’ve showered, or in the bathroom sink after you’ve combed your hair, don’t panic: everybody loses hair every day.  In fact, it’s not unusual to shed up to 100 follicles of hair in a single day. The real problem comes when the shedding goes well beyond that, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

So, how do you know when your hair loss has gone from normal daily shedding to reason for concern? Well, there are a few key signs to look out for.

Excessive Shedding

It would be difficult to keep track of how many follicles of hair you’re losing every day, but if you’re noticing a considerable increase in the amount of shedding, it may be the result of any of the following:

  • Giving birth
  • High levels of stress
  • Significant weight loss
  • A high grade fever
  • Certain illnesses
  • Side effect of a surgical procedure

Fortunately, excessive shedding due to any of these conditions is not permanent. Your hair should eventually stop falling out excessively and return to its normal healthy state. If that’s not the case, it’s a good idea to consult with a physician.

Hair Loss

The difference between hair shedding and hair loss is that, with shedding, the hair eventually grows back, and with hair loss, it does not. Pattern baldness is perhaps the most common cause of hair loss, but there are a number of other reasons why it can occur.

Hair loss can be the result of:

  • A genetic predisposition (androgenetic alopecia)
  • Changes in hormones brought on by pregnancy
  • Thyroid problems
  • Fungal infections
  • Autoimmune issues
  • Damage due to tight hairstyles
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Nutrient deficiencies

If you’re concerned about your hair loss, consult with a physician. Many causes are treatable conditions, but most them of require medical attention.

Patchy Hair Loss

If you find that your hair loss is concentrated in one particular area, it may be the result of a condition known as alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that most commonly affects those under the age of 30, but has been documented in people of all age groups. It is characterized by the sudden unpredictable loss of small patches of hair, generally about the size of a quarter. There is no known cure for alopecia areata, but it often heals on its own without any treatment necessary.

Causes

Alopecia areata is the result of white blood cells attacking hair follicles, inhibiting hair growth. Causes of this phenomenon are uncertain, but there appears to be a genetic component, 1 in 5 alopecia areata sufferers have family members who have also had the condition. Correlations have also been made to those with family histories of separate autoimmune disorders.

Treatments

There is no definitive cure for alopecia areata, and it often spontaneously heals on its own, but if you’re currently experiencing it, you probably don’t want to wait around until it just goes away one day. Fortunately, there are a few different treatments that have been found to be effective.

Steroids are sometimes prescribed in the form of either topical ointments, oral tablets, or local injections. They work to suppress the immune system, allowing the hair follicles to continue growing normally.

Other treatments include medications such as Minoxidil, which stimulates hair growth, SADBE, which encourages immune response, and Anthralin, which is used to treat skin conditions.

What to Do About Hair Loss 

If you’re experiencing any of these forms of hair loss, it can be frightening, upsetting, and embarrassing, but don’t worry: there are a wide array of solutions for you to explore. Read about them and decide which one might be best for you.

Topical Solutions

There is an endless selection of topical hair loss solutions you can choose from. The more popular ones are easy to use and relative affordability, but their efficacy is a topic of debate.

Medications and Supplements

For specific causes of hair loss, such as a fungal infection or nutrient deficiency, the easy solution is to take a certain medication or supplement. It’s important to discuss these issues with a doctor in order to receive a proper diagnosis and prescription.

Low-level Light Therapy

Laser therapy is clinically proven to help regrow hair. Wearing a laser cap to irradiate your scalp with photons in order to stimulate the metabolic processes behind hair growth is a simple and easy solution for your hair loss woes.