You see a couple of hair strands in the shower floor or sink. Should you freak out? What is ‘normal’ hair loss, and what’s a sign that all the blow drying and color treatments that you’ve had is finally catching up on you? While certain things can cause sudden hair loss, don’t ignore the gradual hair loss either. Here are some important facts on hair loss to help you understand your hair, and how to care for it.
Normal hair loss
The typical hair strand grows for as much as 3 years, at a rate of a centimeter per month. Then, it stops growing and ‘rests.’ However, after 3 months, this strand will fall out, and a new hair strand will begin to grow in its place.
So, hair loss is pretty much a normal part of the hair growth cycle. You can expect a few strands to fall out each day, though we rarely notice it (until it clogs the shower drain or the sink, or ends up in a tangled mess in our hair brushes).
Stress-related hair loss
Unusual stress or sickness can affect your hair growth. However, it takes a while for your hair to show the effects, so you can experience hair fall as long as 3 months after you had that big, nasty breakup or was hospitalized. That’s because during the time of stress the hair-growth cycle was interrupted. Once the stress levels return to normal, the cycle continues, and your hair is shed to make room for new, healthy strands.
Hormone-related hair loss
Hair loss can also be accelerated during hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause. Hair loss can also be a symptom of hormonal imbalances, such as a thyroid problem. Always report excessive hair loss to your doctor.
Medicine-related hair loss
Hair loss can be a side effect of some medicines. This can happen if you are taking anti-depressants, birth control pills, blood thinners and other medicines for high blood pressure. Hair loss can also be caused by excessive vitamin A intake. And, as you probably already know, chemotherapy and cancer treatments can lead to hair loss too.
Disease-related hair loss
Aside from thyroid problems, diabetes and fungal diseases are just some of the disorders or illnesses that can lead to hair loss. Fortunately, once those conditions are under control, the hair growth will return to normal.
Styling-related hair loss
Your beauty and grooming habits could lead to premature or excessive hair loss. For example, if you wear very tight hair styles (like corn rows) or very tight hair rollers, then you pull your hair out. New strands will grow in their place, but do try to use a gentler hand: continuous pulling of the hair can inflame the hair follicle, causing scars. Note: avoid having too many hot oil treatments, which can also cause inflammation.
Aging-related hair loss
As we grow older our body loses its ability to regenerate new hair strands. This leads to common baldness or receding hairlines (in men) or thinning hair (in women).
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