The hair undergoes periods of growth and rest. Everyone loses a certain number of hairs each day and as this can vary from month to month and person to person, it may be difficult to tell if you are losing more hair than normal.

As hair loss can be caused by a number of personal and medical issues, it is important to identify how much hair loss is normal.

Normal Hair Growth and Loss

The average human head has around 100,000 hairs on it. People with blonde hair tend to have more individual hairs but each hair strand is usually fine. Brunettes have less than blondes but tend to have thicker, courser strands. Redheads usually have less hair than any other colors. Older people tend to have less hair than those who are younger.

It is estimated that most people normally shed 50 to 100 hairs per day but this number can fluctuate widely. Each individual hair follicle has a growth cycle. The hair follicle will produce hair at the rate of ½ to 1 inch each month for a period of 2 to 3 years. This is followed by a rest period where the hair follicle shuts down and discharges the hair.

After a couple of months it begins producing hair again so there may be periods where many of the hair follicles are entering a resting phase causing more hair loss than usual. This is a normal process and will likely be followed by periods of less than usual hair loss.

Sudden Hair Loss

Hair loss, particularly sudden hair loss can be caused by several conditions including poor nutrition, stress, illness and medications. If you notice patches of bald scalp or clumps of hair that have suddenly fallen out, you may have a medical condition that needs attention.

If you notice that your hairbrush or the shower drain are continuously clogged by hair for several weeks or more, this may indicate that you are losing more hair than normal and need to see a physician. If you run your hand through your hair and come out with more than a few strands, you may be losing too much hair and need to evaluate your condition and lifestyle

Hair loss after pregnancy or surgery is normal. This will usually occur 2 to 3 months after the end of pregnancy or having the surgery. You may notice that your hair is growing excessively thin but it will begin to grow back normally. This happens because the hair follicles are suddenly pushed into a resting phase causing the hair to fall out. After the resting phase is over, the growth cycle will begin thought it may take a few more months for you to notice new hair.

Unless you have male pattern baldness, most excessive hair loss can often be stopped by treating the underlying condition. If you have a large amount of stress, you should work to eliminate it. If your diet is lacking in proper nutrition, you should be sure that you are eating adequate amounts of protein with proper amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. If you have an underlying condition, it should be treated.

Taking care of the root problem will eliminate most cases of hair loss and allow the hair to return to normal.

Brian Johnson MD

Brian Johnson MD

Dr. Brian Johnson is a professor of dermatology. He has conducted numerous research studies about hair loss and it's effects on the human psyche. Dr. Johnson has written for Maclean's, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post.

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