According to the British Association of Dermatologists, it’s totally normal to lose 30 to 150 hairs per day as part of our normal hair cycle.But how do you know if your hair shedding is normal or if it’s actually hair loss? Keep reading to learn more about hair shedding. Plus, we’ll share tips on how to stop hair falling out.
Normal Hair Shedding Defined
Hair shedding is a normal and necessary part of the hair growth cycle. As we mentioned, it’s normal to have 30 and 150 hairs falling out per day. While that may seem like a lot, the average human scalp has 100,000 to 150,000 hairs, so that daily loss doesn’t mean a visible difference in your hair volume.
To understand normal hair shedding, first we need to talk about the hair growth cycle. Hair growth (and hair falling out) occur in a continuous cycle with four key phases. At any given point, those 100,000 to 150,000 hairs on your head are at different points of the cycle. That’s a good thing because it’s what prevents all of your hair shedding at once!
Here’s how the hair cycle works:
1. Anagen or Hair Growth Phase
During this first phase of the hair growth cycle, cells in the hair follicle divide rapidly, resulting in new hair growth. 80 to 90 percent of hair is in the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle. This phase lasts between two to seven years, and the length of the anagen phase determines how long your hair can grow. Many factors influence the length of your anagen phase, including genetics, nutrition, age, and overall health. Since your health can affect your hair growth phase, following healthy habits is the best way to stop hair falling out (but more on that later).
2. Catagen or Transition Phase
Once the hair reaches its maximum length, the hair follicle transitions into the catagen phase. During this short period, the hair detaches from its blood supply and becomes what is known as a club hair.
3. Telogen or Resting Phase
While the club hair rests, it is still attached to the scalp and a new hair grows beneath it. This new hair will eventually take its place. This period lasts about three months.
4. Exogen or Hair Shedding Phase
The hair shedding phase is the final part of the hair growth cycle. During this period, the club hair detaches and falls out. Every hair sheds once it reaches this phase of the growth cycle. Once a hair reaches the exogen phase, there is nothing you can do to prevent the hair falling out.
After the exogen phase, the hair follicle returns to the anagen phase and works on growing the new hair that was beneath the club hair. And then the cycle repeats itself!
Hair Loss vs. Hair Shedding
Hair shedding is a normal and necessary part of the hair growth cycle, but if you’re losing more than 150 strands per day, you might be experiencing hair loss.
Many types of hair loss occur when a higher-than-average number of hair follicles transition from the anagen phase to the catagen phase. Once these hairs reach the hair shedding phase, they fall out and hair may appear visibly thinner. This type of hair loss can have many different causes. For some, hair loss is caused by physical changes like giving birth or drastic weight loss. Other times, hair loss may be caused by an underlying medical condition.
However, most cases of hair loss are the result of androgenetic hair loss, otherwise known as male or female hair loss. This type of hair shedding is not directly related to the hair growth cycle. In this case, a hormone called DHT shrinks the hair follicles until they stop producing hair altogether. As the follicles shrink, hair falls out.
How Can You Tell if Something is Wrong?
So how do you know if you’re experiencing regular hair shedding or if you actually have hair loss? Here’s a few signs to look for:
- Patchy Hair Loss - Losing hair in circular patches could be a sign of a medical condition called alopecia areata.
- Receding Hairline - One of the first ways men notice hair falling out is their hairline begins to recede. This is a sign of androgenetic hair loss.
- Thinness at the Crown - Another sign of excessive hair shedding for men is visible thinness at the crown.
- Widening Part - Women tend to lose hair all over rather than in one place like men, so excessive hair shedding may be less obvious. However, a widening part is a sure sign of hair falling out for women.
- Smaller Ponytail - Women with long hair might notice hair shedding if the diameter of their ponytail shrinks noticeably.
- Extra Hair Falling Out - If you’re noticing more hairs than normal on your pillow, in your hair brush, or in your shower drain, you may have excessive hair shedding.
If you recognize any of these signs of hair loss, talk to your dermatologist. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your hair loss and help you design a treatment plan to stop your hair falling out.
How to Stop Hair Falling Out: 8 Tips
Even if you don’t have hair loss, hair shedding can be very annoying and keep you from your hair goals. To reduce hair shedding and stop hair falling out, improve the anagen phase with the help of these tips:
How to Stop Hair Falling Out Tip #1: Eat a Balanced Diet
Healthy hair starts within, which is why it’s so important to eat a diet rich in hair-healthy nutrients.
To boost your hair growth phase and reduce hair shedding, aim to eat a diet rich in lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and veggies.
Not sure which foods are best for fighting hair shedding? Try these:
- Lean proteins like chicken and fish
- Healthy fats like avocado and olive oil
- Dark leafy green vegetables
- Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables like oranges and bell peppers