Shedding is a normal part of the hair life cycle, which lasts between two and seven years for each strand. If you’re noticing a lot more hair in the drain or on your brush, you may have a problem with hair loss. While the risk increases with age, it doesn’t mean young people are immune. In fact, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery cites patients as young as 15 to 20 in what is known as early onset hair loss. Rule out potential causes to reduce the risk of baldness from excessive shedding.
You lose hair every day. According to the Nemours Foundation, a normal head of hair contains about 100,000 strands. With this much hair, an average loss of 100 to 200 strands a day is likely unnoticeable. Losing more is noticeable, and may cause small bald spots.
It's in Your Genes
Unfortunately, heredity is the top cause of premature hair loss. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 80 million men and women have heredity-related hair loss. If one of your parents started losing hair by early adulthood, chances are, you will also. You may notice a receding hairline or overall thinning of the hair.
One common cause of hair loss is hormonal changes. This is especially the case in female pattern hair loss, which the North American Hair Research Society says affects 50 percent of women by the time they reach 50. Puberty can cause temporary excess shedding during the teen years. Hormones during pregnancy can stimulate hair growth, but you may experience temporary hair loss after giving birth. This is due to a sudden decrease in estrogen, and your hair growth cycle will normalize within a few months, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Bad Hair Habits
The way you care for and style your hair can dictate the growth and life of your strands. Heated tools, as well as frequent perms and relaxer treatments, can all lead to increased breakage. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this is one cause of patchy balding, which occurs in 1.7 percent of all Americans. Shampooing too often also places stress on the hair follicles, which may cease producing new hairs. Your hair is placed under similar stress whenever it is frequently pulled back into tight styles that require elastic bands and clips. Avoid overbrushing: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends limiting to 100 strokes per day or fewer.
More Serious Causes
When changes in personal care or temporary hormone fluctuations are ruled out, check with your doctor in case of more serious causes. Possibilities include anemia, ringworm, thyroid disease and lupus. Hair loss may also signify nutritional deficiencies, which aren’t uncommon in teens and young adults. Eating disorders and insufficient protein or iron may be to blame.
- Nemours Foundation: Taking Care of Your Hair
- American Academy of Dermatology: Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes
- Columbia Health: Premature Hair Loss
- International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery: Hair Loss in Young Men
- North American Hair Research Society: Female Pattern Hair Loss
- Cleveland Clinic: Hair Disorders