For some women this will seem like a silly question as the answer is unfortunately so obvious, but for many women who may be wondering if they are in the early stages of hair loss, this is a very important question: Is my hair thinning or is it my imagination?
You don’t want to be running off to your local doctor if there really isn’t anything to worry about but more importantly, you DO want to start to get in touch with the finer aspects of your health if in fact there is something to be worried about.
See below for the main differences between ‘normal’ hair loss and what might be the early stages of thinning hair.
‘Normal’ Hair Loss
100 Hairs a Day
According to dermatologist and hair loss expert, Dr Jerry Shapiro, it is normal to lose anything up to 100 hairs a day. As hair goes through a cycle of growth followed by a dormant stage followed by falling out, some hair will be falling out every day. So the first thing to note is that you will notice some hair falling out and it’s perfectly normal for that to happen.
Seasonal Hair Loss
According to hair loss research in the U.K, some women may also experience seasonal hair loss. That is, there is a time of year when more hair falls out than in other times of the year. You could be one of these people and if you can remember back to this time last year, you may recall that you had a slight increase in your hair loss back then too. If so there is probably nothing to be concerned about.
If you suspect that this could be you, it’s a good idea to note down the date when you first notice an increase in your hair falling out, then you may realise in a week or two you’ve forgotten about it, or you may also notice next year when it happens again.
Hair Washing and Brushing
When washing hair it is normal to notice hair fall and this is when some people may become concerned. If you are someone who is trying to wash your hair less often to try to prevent it from falling out, then you may be frustrated.
All day every day there are some strands of hair that have ceased to be attached, but they often don’t appear or fall completely until you brush or wash your hair. The longer you leave it between washes the more hairs there will be in the fall stage and so there may appear to suddenly be more – when in fact, there isn’t.
(So don’t worry, washing your hair is not causing it to fall out!)
Abnormal Hair Loss
Noticeable Increase in Amount of Hair Lost
Are you suddenly clogging the shower drain? If you suddenly notice an increase in the amount of hair loss in the shower, or in your brush and none of the relatively ‘normal’ causes mentioned above apply to you, then there are a few things you can do to determine if this is hair loss or just an unexplained deviation from normal.
Firstly have a close look at the hair to determine if you can see the root of each individual strand of hair. Hair that has no root attached is likely to have broken off and although this is also a form of hair loss, breakage is a relatively simple problem to solve. See our easy ways to combat hair breakage here.
(Note that hair loss due to cancer and other potent drugs may result in hair fall that does not have the root attached)
If you do see roots in your fallen hair and you are sure that the amount of hair loss each day is consistently higher than normal, then it may be worth heading off to your GP to discuss some options. This is most likely to be Telogen Effluvium. There are a number of bloods tests that your GP can order to test for common causes of hair loss in women and they may also refer you to a specialist.
Hair Lost in Patches
If you notice that your hair is thinning only in some areas and not in others, you may be experiencing the early stages of hair loss. Common thinning areas for women are the front of the head, the back of the head (or the crown) and the part line. If you notice a discernible decrease in density in these areas, it may be a good idea to see your GP.
If you’re losing more hair than usual and your hair loss is accompanied by a sore or itchy scalp, it’s a good idea to see a GP as you may have a skin condition which is causing your hair to fall.
Hair Loss is Accompanied by Other Symptoms
If you feel unwell or not your usual self in any way, see your GP. Common causes of hair loss include vitamin and mineral deficiencies which could leave you feeling run down and lethargic, so you may find that correcting these issues may not only stop your hair loss but make you feel a lot better in general. Hair loss can also be a symptom of illness, especially auto-immune diseases, so the sooner you get to your GP, the sooner you can address any health issues you may have along with your hair loss.