Everyone loses hair every day, as part of the hair's natural growth cycle. But how do you tell when your normal hair shedding
has turned into hair loss that you need to worry about?
Why does hair shed?
The hair follicles in your scalp grow hair in a three phase cycle: the anagen phase, which is the stage during which the hair is actually growing – this phase usually lasts for between two and five years, depending on the individual; the catagen phase, which is a short transitional stage lasting up to about ten days, and the telegen phase, which is the “resting” stage, during which the hair falls out and the follicle prepares to begin its cycle again.
What is normal hair shedding?
Usually, around 80-90% of the hairs on our head are in the anagen phase at any one time, with the remaining 10-20% in either the catagen or telogen phase. Every individual hair will be at a slightly different stage in the growth cycle, which is why we don't all go bald for a period every two to five years.
However, because a small percentage of our hairs will be in the telogen phase at any time, you can expect to lose between 80 and 100 hairs every day. You may notice these hairs on your pillow in the morning, or on the brush after you have brushed your hair.
When does that become hair loss?
Hair loss occurs when the hair follicle reaches the telogen phase and stays there, without reverting back to the anagen stage. This can happen for many reasons, often due to external factors such as stress, or internal issues such as hormone disorders. Genetics often has a part to play as well, as in androgenetic alopecia, better known as male-pattern baldness or female-pattern hair loss.
You will know if you are suffering from hair loss, because you will start to notice thinning areas of hair. For men, this tends to begin around the hair line, followed by the temples and crown, whereas women tend to suffer from more diffuse hair loss, which begins at the parting and spreads outwards.
What can be done about it?
There are lots of options available if you are suffering from hair loss – for men who have been losing their hair for five years or more, hair transplant surgery can present an option. Scalp micro-pigmentation is a great treatment for men or women who wish to create the illusion of thicker hair, and there are now many topical medications and even laser treatments available that claim to help to stimulate hair growth.