Does Your Hair Shed A Lot? Possible Reasons Why


When you clean your hairbrush, does the clump resemble a Tribble*? Does your shower drain seem to clog up every time you wash your hair? Can everyone tell where you've been by following the stray hairs? These are all true for me, and have been for a long time. If your hair is black like mine, it can be seen everywhere I go. If you've had this problem and been worried that you're going bald like a man, take heart. There are several reasons for us to lose hair, and not all are medical. In fact, most of them are related to the way we care for our hair.

Most people lose about 50-100 dead hairs a day, but this is only a small fraction of the over 100,000 hairs on our heads. People with curly hair tend to lose more than others, although it's not really clear why. Some of the most common reasons for hair loss in women are:
  • Hormonal changes such as childbirth, menopause or stopping birth control pills
  • Thyroid problems
  • The effects of certain medications such as those for cancer, high blood pressure or depression
  • Inadequate levels of protein, iron and B vitamins in the diet
  • Crash dieting or a major loss of weight
  • Stress
  • Heredity
  • A major physical or emotional trauma. For instance, getting in a car accident or having a death in the family can put stress on your body and cause an increase in hair loss that can last for several months.
Once a hormonal or thyroid problem is treated, the loss usually stops. Don't worry about going bald, though, because the hairs grow back. If you're concerned, check with your doctor. She may be able to prescribe a different medication or give you other ways to slow your hair loss.

The ways we care for our hair can also cause us to lose more of it than normal. For example:
  • Using chemicals such as color or permanents incorrectly. When I say, 'incorrectly', I mean doing it too often or, in the case of bleaching, using overly harsh chemicals. For instance, my sister went from brown to blonde by using a peroxide mix that responded to sunlight. She did it in a period of about a week, so you can imagine how much abuse her hair had to take to change that quickly.
  • Certain hairstyles that require hair to be pulled tightly, such as cornrows or ponytails. Tight hair ornaments like barrettes and rubber bands can make you shed even more.
  • Heat styling. This could be one reason those of us with curly hair lose more. Many curly-haired people will use flat irons or hairdryers to straighten their hair. The 'big hair' styles from the 70s and 80s were particularly bad because of the double whammy of using curling irons to pull bangs tightly while styling.

As you can see, many causes of hair loss have nothing to do with the balding we see in men. Many of them can be fixed by changing the ways we treat our hair. If the cause is medical, the loss usually slows once the problem is addressed. Since the hair grows back, you're probably not going to go bald anytime soon!

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