By Maui V. Reyes for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
Women lose about 40 to 120 strands of hair a day. If you've got fine hair, expect to shed more because you have more hair than your thick-tressed counterparts. It's also a fact that hair thins out as you grow older. So if this is all a natural part of life…what's the big deal about falling hair?
Some people might think that one's concern over hair fall is pure vanity. It's true that hair naturally changes in thickness and quality at different points in one's life (pregnant women get fuller, thicker hair…but start shedding once they give birth.) But women (and men!) have a pretty legit reason to be concerned, especially when they see a noticeable increase in hair fall. That's because hair fall can also be a sign of poor diet, too much stress, or something medical, like a thyroid imbalance.
Kinds of hair fall
To start, doctors like to classify "hair fall" cases under three categories:
Female Pattern Hair Loss, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss. It is a genetic disorder that can occur anytime after puberty. A good 50% of women experience this, mostly after they turn 40 years old. Stress, medications, birth control pills, and hormones can also cause it.
Telogen Effulvium, or physiologic shedding, occurs when an excess number of hair follicles suddenly stop growing. This can be caused by certain illnesses, anemia, hormonal shifts (such as pregnancy), and thyroid imbalance. It can also be the result of trauma. Studies have shown that trauma, such as the death of a loved one, can disrupt the hair's growth cycle. Unhealthy eating can also cause physiological shedding.
Lastly, there's Alopecia Areata, also known as "Allergic Alopecia". They come in the form of patchy bald spots on the head. This can easily be caused by an allergic reaction, or it could also be an immune system imbalance.
Fighting hair fall
There are a few things you can start doing at home to fight hair fall.
To start, avoid getting stressed out. See, hair grows in phases. The first phase, known as the growth phase, lasts for two years. It is then followed by a resting phase, or the "telogen phase", for three months. Whenever we get extremely stressed, almost 70% of our hair prematurely enters the telogen phase, making it fall out after three months. The good news is, new hair will most likely grow back in the next six months.
Also, make sure you're getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals. Avoid drastic diets, which can cause an imbalance in nutrition. Make sure you get adequate doses of protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin B complex.
Try to avoid exposing your hair to too many chemicals. If you love going to the salon for chemical hair treatments (that includes dyeing!), consider "resting" your hair a few months in between before going in for more tune-ups. Exposing your tresses to various chemicals (not to mention high temperatures) can cause stress on your strands.
You can also try anti-hair fall shampoos. Make sure to look for formulas that include DHT inhibitors, such as the herb palmetto. Keep an eye out for variants with plant-based oils such as coconut, lavender, evening primrose, and rosehip seed oils—it's believed that these essential oils help encourage hair growth, and could even give you thicker hair. Also check if your shampoo addresses strengthening hair at the root and not just treating hair breakage.
Steer clear though of shampoos with surfactants and too much sodium sulfate. Surfactants cause your shampoo to lather up, but doesn't really help in cleaning your hair—in fact, this added chemical can make your hair dry, causing it to break (not good for those with thin hair!). Too high concentration of sodium sulfate can damage your hair and scalp.
However, if none of the above mentioned tips work and you feel you have a serious hair fall problem, see a doctor. You can go to a dermatologist, gynecologist, or even an endocrinologist to get to the root (no pun intended!) of your hair fall problem. Some like to consult with a "trichologist", someone who has studied the science of hair and scalp. Keep in mind that it's never a good idea to self-diagnose or self-medicate.
And remember, seeing a professional about falling hair shouldn't be something to be embarrassed about. Remember, it could be a symptom of an imbalance in the body, or a signal that it's time to slow things down (remember, stay stress-free!) And besides, the worst thing you can do about your falling hair is to worry about it—so seeing a doctor is the best thing you can do to keep your mind at peace.