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Is Hair Shedding a Sign of Hair Loss - Thursday, October 25, 2007

 

Hair shedding can be normal but depending on the amount of hair shedding may determine whether or not you are experiencing genetic hair loss. 

Hair goes through a growth cycle in 3 distinct phases.

Hair Growth CycleThe Anagen Phase:  (The Growing Phase).  This is where the hair is actively growing from it’s hair follicle.  Typically, this phase lasts for several years without changing.  Next is the catagen phase.

The Catagen Phase:  (Intermediate or Resting Phase).  This is where the hair follicle stops producing hair for a period of about 2-4 weeks as its getting ready to shed (the telogen phase).

The Telogen Phase:  (The Shedding Phase).  The previous hair sheds with the onset of new hair that is growing underneath the surface of the skin from the hair follicle.  The new hair growing is in the Anagen phase which leads to a repeat of the hair growth cycle.  For those who are considering or have recently undergone hair loss and restoration surgery, this is why the implanted hairs will shed for 3-5 months before growing again.  However, with hair loss surgery - it's a bit different as the hair follicle rests in catagen for awhile before anagen begins.

In the hair growth cycle, it is normal to shed between 50-100 hairs a day as hair follicles go through the above. 

Whereas the above hair growth cycle is normal, here are a few signs that you may be losing hair:

  1. Excessive Shedding:  Seeing more than 50-100 hairs a day could be an indication that you are losing your hair.  Note: certain medications (especially hair loss medications like Propecia and Rogaine) also may cause this and may not be an absolute sign of hair loss.

  2. Hair Changes Appearance:  If your hairline is receeding or you notice areas of thinning hair (change in hair thickness or color), this may be a sign of hair loss. 

For those who are experiencing Androgenetic Alopecia (genetic hair loss), the hair growth cycle for those hairs that are genetically predisposed to DHT (the hormone responsible for hair loss) speeds up, lessening the time of the Anagen or growth phase.  These genetically predisposed hairs will continue to grow for awhile, but after each cycle, will appear smaller and finer, containing less pigment - until eventually the hair eventually dies.

Bill Seemiller - Managing Publisher of the Coalition Hair Loss Learning Center, and the Hair Loss Q & A Blog.

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