Hair Metrics Brief: Getting to Know Your Hair

Regardless of your age or medical condition, you lose hair every day. In healthy young men and women, hair shedding can range from a couple dozen hairs to 200 per day. But, even if you notice the shedding, you may not notice any thinning or balding areas. That’s because other hairs, on a different growth cycle, are there to take their place in a nearby location while the follicle prepares to begin the process of growing new hair.

Speaking of growth cycles, it’s important to know how this process works to better understand what treatments can enhance or impede hair growth. Once hair growth begins, an individual hair can continue growing anywhere from 2 to 6 years before the follicle sheds the hair. Once the hair is shed, that follicle goes into a dormant, resting phase for about 3 months before it begins the process of growing new hair again. Because different follicles are on different cycles, hairs that are shed at the same time as part of the normal hair cycle are often dispersed on different parts of the scalp, or surrounded by follicles on a cycle that are active when others may be dormant, hiding any resting follicles.

Significant hair loss typically occurs when the regrowth cycle is disrupted, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Male and female pattern hair loss may start with a shorter growth cycle. Each hair new that appears is thinner, shorter and more likely to fall out due to a shallower root than prior growths. Several internal or environmental causes can impact this growth cycle resulting in more delicate, thinning hair, or hair shedding, including inflammation of the scalp, hormonal imbalances, infections, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, medication, vitamin deficiency, emotional or physical trauma, cosmetic or chemical hair treatments, and hairstyles that pull at the root. Effective treatment will require a proper evaluation to determine what factor or factors are adversely impacting the hair growth cycle and treatment of the underlying cause.

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