What Causes Excess Hair to Fall Out While Brushing?

The average person loses about 100 hairs per day through the natural shedding process. Anything more than 100 hairs is considered excessive. While some hairs get stuck to clothing and furniture, most get tangled up in the hair until they are freed, resulting in a small mass of loose hair each time you brush. Several contributing factors can increase hair loss and breakage including breakage and damage caused by chemicals and abuse, certain medical illnesses and genetic or natural hair loss associated with the aging process.

Breakage and Damage

Healthy hair is elastic. You can stretch it, pull on it, abuse it and style it and it bounces back. Damaged hair, weakened by chemical services, the sun, thermal styling and neglect, loses the ability to stretch and retract. The simple act of running a hair brush through damaged hair can cause the hair to snap and fall out.

Chemical services are responsible for the majority of hair loss in the absence of an underlying medical condition. All chemical services including color, perms and relaxers change the appearance and structure of the hair by breaking down and restoring the hair's natural chemical bonds. Damage always occurs as a result. Hair weakened by chemical damage snaps under daily pressure. This type of hair loss is generally more noticeable right after a chemical service, but you may continue to lose hair for a few months after the service.

Medical Illness

Certain illnesses, especially those involving the thyroid, cause hair to become extremely brittle. Brittle hair breaks easily and lacks the nourishment to grow long and strong. Hair loss associated with medical illness is twofold. First, hair sheds at a faster rate due to the fact that the hair receives less nourishment when certain medical conditions are present. Second, breakage is more common. Both types of loss cause loose hairs to become entangled in the hair until the next shampoo or brushing.

According to MayoClinic.com, malnutrition, thyroid conditions, diabetes, lupus, hormonal changes, scalp infections, medical treatments and some medications cause excess breakage and hair loss. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of an underlying condition before assuming that your hair loss is part of the natural aging process.


Everyone loses hair as they age due to the natural aging process. Some lose more than others in a process known as pattern baldness. Both males and females can be affected by pattern baldness, but this type of hair loss is more common in men. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, female pattern baldness is not as recognizable as male pattern baldness. Females experience a generalized thinning of the hair, whereas men develop a receding hair line and thinning crown.

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