Hair loss can be downright alarming when you begin to lose more hair than usual. Whether you see hair blocking the shower drain, left behind on your pillow, or clogging your comb, hair loss is always concerning when it happens to you. Yet, we all regularly shed hair strands every day. Indeed, most of us shed between 50-100 strands a day. But when you start to see more hair loss than normal, it can raise serious concerns about your appearance and even your health. If you are noticing hair thinning, try these two simple ways to check if hair loss is within normal limits.
What’s the difference between hair shedding and hair loss?
Let’s be crystal clear about the difference between hair shedding and hair loss before diving into the tests. Hair shedding is a normal part of the hair growth cycle. When we lose hair from normal shedding, a new hair will replace the one that fell out in the same follicle. When we have shedding, we rarely notice any changes to our hair thickness and volume because it is normal for about 10% of our hairs on our head to be in the resting phase of the hair growth cycle.
On the contrary, hair loss is where we lose our hair, and it doesn’t grow back. Therefore, hair loss is noticeable and typically worsens over time.
The Pull Test
The first at-home test you can try for assessing hair loss is the pull test. With this test, you grasp about 60 hairs between your fingers and pull a little bit while running your fingers through your hair. Of the 60 hairs, it is normal to see between 5-8 hairs fall out with this tension. Any more than that, say between 15-20, could be a sign that you are experiencing some hair loss.
The reason the pull test is helpful is that it helps you gauge your degree of hair loss compared to what is normal. At any point in time, most people have hair that is in the growing phase of the hair growth cycle. This means that about 90% of your hair should remain attached to your head. The remaining 10% of hair is either in catagen, a short transitionary phase where hair stops growing and is cut off from its blood supply, or telogen, a phase where the detached hairs begin to shed as they are now cut off form the follicle. Thus, when you perform a pull test, you should not have more than 10% of hairs fall out.
People can lose hair from a variety of health conditions, but the following two conditions are the most common:
Androgenic alopecia - Also called male or female pattern hair loss, your genetics are largely responsible if you have androgenic alopecia. In males with androgenic alopecia, hair loss typically follows a specific pattern, such as a receding hairline or loss of hair in the shape of an ‘M’ or ‘V.’ Men can also have crown thinning, where they end up with a bald patch on the top of their head. In females, androgenic alopecia usually involves a general thinning of hair all over the head. Most notably, females may see their part line growing wider as their hair becomes more sparse.
Telogen effluvium - Most people will experience telogen effluvium at some point in their life. A stressor usually triggers hair loss of this type, such as surgery, childbirth, loss of a loved one, or trauma. Even periods of high stress with work or relationships can also lead to hair loss. Fortunately, people with telogen effluvium see their hair grow back once the stressor passes, although re-growth can take up to 12 months.
If you have hair loss and think it is due to telogen effluvium, think back to what was happening in your life about three months ago. If there was some significant stressful event, a greater percentage of your hair may have switched into the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle and is now shedding. The telogen phase lasts approximately 120 days or three months. At the end of telogen, your hair sheds, and new hair grows in its place.
The Comb Test
The second test you can try at home is the comb test. In this test, you will want to take a comb and brush your hair from front to back for one minute while leaning over a light-colored towel or sheet. After one minute has passed, count the hairs that have landed on the fabric. Again, like the pull test, you should only see about ten hairs on the sheet.
The comb test is especially helpful for people who have shorter hair. If your hair is on the lighter side, you may need to use a dark-colored sheet to be able to count your hair.
There are some exceptions when it comes to both the pull test and the comb test. Firstly, normal amounts of hair shedding can differ based on age. For example, people over age 50 are more likely to lose more hair (naturally) than people under 50. Secondly, the average amount of shedding differs with hair type as well. When it comes to both of these tests, it is essential to identify what is a normal amount of shedding for you.
My tests indicate hair loss. Now what?
Unless you wish to sport a bald head, you will want to find ways to keep your hair as thick and healthy as possible. Early action is key. Therefore, you will want to start preventing hair loss before it actually happens. For example, if you have a family history of hair loss, you will want to start monitoring your hair for any signs of thinning.
To keep an eye on your hair thickness, take photos of your hairline, crown, and part line (if you have one) at the beginning of each month. Then, compare it to past months. If you have hair thinning, you will likely start to see changes in these areas. Along with keeping an eye out for changes, you will also want to make sure you are using good shampoo products that do not contain harmful ingredients. Haircare products that contain harsh ingredients can cause inflammation and worsen hair loss. Eating a healthy diet and reducing stressors is also a great way to prevent hair loss.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, hair loss is inevitable, especially with androgenic alopecia. Therefore, when you first start to notice hair loss, you will want to make sure you are using hair re-growth systems as early as possible. Newer dermatological technologies contain Nanoxidil 5%. These hair growth treatments delivers powerful ingredients through our advanced nanosome technology that penetrates deep within your scalp to nourish and stimulate hair follicles. These treatments also contain compounds that:
- Suppress the effects of DHT, which is one of the main culprits behind genetic hair loss
- Prevent follicular fibrosis
- Open ion channels within cells to allow ingredients to enter
- Serve as antioxidants
- Prolong the anagen (or growth) phase of the hair growth cycle
- Direct blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles, and
- Block chronic inflammation
You can shop hair growth systems at DS Laboratories, along with the REVITA Nutraceutical Tablets for Hair Growth Support, to ensure you are getting the right nutrients to support a voluminous, healthy head of hair.
*** THIS IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR A PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS FROM A DERMATOLOGISTS.