Seeing a lot of hair whirling down the shower drain? Don’t freak out—yet. “Hair loss in women is, to a certain extent, normal,” advises leading New York-based hair restoration specialist and facial plastic surgeon Dr. James C. Marotta. “The average woman loses between 50 and 100 strands per day, even up to 150 in some cases.”
But if you really feel like you’ve started to lose an excessive amount of hair each day, Dr. Marotta recommends this trick: “Take about 60 hairs between your fingers and pull, running your fingers through your hair. Usually between five and eight hairs, which is normal,” he says. “An excess of 15 hairs, however, is not as common and means you are losing more hair than you should be.”
Here’s the deal, says Dr. Marotta: “For most, 90 percent of the hair on your head is in the growing phase, while about 10 percent of your hair is in the ‘resting’ phase, meaning that 10 percent will fall out and leave room for new hair growth within a certain period of time. If you are losing more than 15 hairs per pull, it likely means more than 10 percent of the hair on your head is in the ‘resting’ phase,” he explains. “While this still may not be a true cause for concern, it would be a good idea to ask an expert about what to do to halt this process.”
Even if you find that you are losing quite a bit of hair, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern. “The cause of excess hair loss can be as simple as too much stress or a lack of vitamins,” says Dr. Marotta, “so it’s important to take a look at your lifestyle when hair loss becomes an issue.” He does warn, however, that “hair loss can also become prevalent due to hormonal, immunological and infectious issues.” So, no matter what, a trip to the doctor is never a bad idea, if only to ease your anxieties.
A version of this article was originally published in July 2015.
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