Shedding hair: When it’s normal and when it’s time to be concerned

Losing anywhere from 50 to 100 strands a day is normal and minimal

Hair loss.
Hair loss. (Martin Slavoljubovski from Pixabay.)

Everyone leaves a few locks of hair behind while in the shower. It might feel gross, but it’s normal.

“Hair sheds normally as part of the hair cycle,” explained Dr. Stephanie Agyemang, a family physician at Baptist Primary Care. “Each strand actually has a cycle of its own, and when you’re in the shower, hairs that are already loose or disconnected can emerge.”

There are about 100,000 hair follicles on a person’s scalp, so losing anywhere from 50 to 100 strands a day is normal and minimal. This shouldn’t cause alarm.

However, there are instances in which hair loss, or alopecia, is not considered normal.

“If you are experiencing increased hair shedding or hair loss -- including bald spots or clumps of hair coming out -- you should start with a visit to your primary care doctor,” Agyemang said.

Root of the problem

“There are so many products for and myths about hair growth and hair loss, which is why I recommend starting with your doctor,” Agyemang said. “We can help prevent you from wasting money on products that promise the world, but provide few results.”

For example, if the cause of your hair loss is an unhealthy scalp or body, hair vitamins will not help, Agyemang explained.

Working with your doctor to have laboratory results to check your thyroid, iron, vitamin D and B12 levels should be an important next step.

Healthy hair

To keep your locks looking luscious and to support hair growth, Agyemang recommends:

  • Taking biotin (available over the counter)
  • Decreasing heat and chemical damage from hair dyes, bleach, relaxers, etc.
  • Keeping the scalp clean, moisturized and dandruff-free
  • Decreasing over-manipulation and traction (i.e. pulling your hair into a tight ponytail, bun or braids)
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Drinking plenty of water

‘Comb’ your nerves

There are many reasons a person may experience hair loss throughout his or her life.

Sudden hair loss can be due to:

  • Genetics
  • Medications
  • Infections
  • Stress, anxiety and depression
  • Telogen effluvium (hair loss due to shock; stressful events such as hospitalizations, delivery of a baby, motor vehicle accidents)
  • Age
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause

“The positive news is that hair loss from stress, alopecia or telogen effluvium typically grows back,” Dr. Agyemang said.

If you are concerned about hair loss and need a professional assessment to put your mind at ease, visit your primary care physician. To find the primary care physician that’s right for you, click here, or call 904.202.4YOU.