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Female Shedding: How Much Hair Loss is Too Much?

Hair shedding is quite normal in women of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of physical stressors like washing, combing, and even tying your hair up into a ponytail. But did you know that the amount of hair you shed is largely dependent on internal factors like the hair growth cycle? Excessive shedding can be an indicator of a much bigger problem: female hair loss. So when it comes to your shedding, how do you know when it's too much?

The Female Hair Growth Cycle

The average human scalp has about 100,000 hair follicles. These follicles go through a growth cycle that includes three phases: anagen, catagen, and telagen.

Anagen: This is the phase in which human hair grows. It lasts between two to five years, and about 85% of the hair on your head is in this stage at any given time. During the anagen phase, hair grows at a rate of about five inches per year, but this can be more or less depending on your individual diet, genetics, and overall health. The anagen phase also determines the maximum length of your hair. For example, some people can grow hair to their waist while others can only grow it to their shoulders.

Catagen: After the hair completes the anagen phase, it enters the catagen phase. It acts as a transitional period. The hair follicle shrinks to one-sixth of its normal diameter and the hair's root disappears below the scalp. The catagen phase lasts between two to three weeks and only 1% of your hair follicles are in this stage at any given time.

Telagen: Telagen is the final phase of the hair growth cycle. This is when hair is in its “resting” period and the largest volume of hair loss through shedding occurs. It lasts about four months.

Physical Causes of Female Shedding

In addition to the growth cycle, hair can also be physically pulled out when you wash, brush, and style it. Hair can be a fun accessory and it's perfectly fine to put it in to different styles, but use care when doing so in order to eliminate unnecessary shedding. Instead of rubber bands, use hair elastics with smooth surfaces that don't tug on your hair. When you put your hair up, don't tie it too tightly. Secure it just tightly enough so that it will stay in place, and then use bobby pins or hair spray for extra hold. Your hair is most fragile when it's wet, so treat it delicately during this time. Never use a brush on wet hair, because the bristles will cause breakage. Similarly, don't tie your hair up when it's wet.

When Female Shedding Should Be a Concern

The average woman loses between 50 and 150 hairs a day. It's nearly impossible to count all of the hairs that fall out of your head throughout the day, so experts recommend a different approach to monitor your hair shedding. If you notice a dramatic increase in the amount of hair in your bathtub's drain, on your brush, in your hair elastics, or around your living space, then you may have a cause for concern.

You also shouldn't be shedding from only certain parts of your scalp. The hair growth cycle occurs randomly throughout the scalp and never in just one area. Thus, one patch of hair won't all be in the telagen phase at once and all fall out. Likewise, a single area on your scalp won't all be in the anagen phase and grow longer than other areas of your hair. Bald patches or any areas that are noticeably thinner are a sign of irregular female hair loss, not shedding.

If you think your female shedding may actually be hair loss, the best idea is to see a hair loss specialist. He or she will be able to properly diagnose your condition and offer you a specialized treatment plan that may include hair transplants. Schedule a private consultation with a hair loss specialist in your area today!

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