Hair loss is a natural phenomenon that occurs at the end of the hair's life cycle. However, it can sometimes be that hair loss is actually concealing health issues that require treatment. Here are some tips to recognise abnormal hair loss.
How does normal hair loss occur?
Hair loss is a recurring phenomenon that affects approximately 1 in 2 women and 70% of men during their lifetime. Each hair has its own life cycle. It begins with a growth phase (anagen), followed by a cessation of growth (catagen), and ends with a resting phase during which the hair detaches from its hair follicle (telogen). The fact that we lose hair every day is thus considered normal as each hair lives independently of the others and has its own life cycle. Generally, we lose about 50 to 150 hairs per day. These are the hairs we usually find on our brush, on our pillow, etc. Once this threshold is exceeded, the hair loss is considered abnormal and it is advised to make an appointment with a doctor.
Hair loss is more noticeable on long hair than on short hair. Losing about a hundred hairs per day does not affect the appearance of the hair. In women, the average amount of hair that falls out daily can increase due to various external factors such as blow-drying, colouring, hairstyling, etc.
How to recognise abnormal hair loss?
Even though hair loss is normal, in some instances, it can mask health issues. An abnormal loss of hair is also referred to as alopecia. To identify it, there are often signs that should raise your concern:
A loss of hair that gradually becomes abundant;
A thinning at the top of the scalp;
A lack of hair focused on a part of the scalp.
There are also signs that can help predict abnormal hair loss such as itching, pain at the root level, or an abundance of dandruff.
It is also possible to anticipate hair loss, as alopecia is hereditary. For individuals with a family history of hair loss, it is essential to recognise abnormal hair loss, particularly in men where baldness is often hereditary.
A simple test to identify abnormal hair loss is to run a hand through your hair, spreading your fingers like a comb. If more than ten hairs remain on your fingers, it is likely a case of abnormal hair loss. In such a scenario, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist who can assess the severity of the hair loss and guide you on the next steps to take.