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Counting Hair For Hair Loss

Counting Hair For Hair Loss

Bald Head From Back

If you want to know how much hair you're really losing a past issue of The Archives of Dermatology reported on a method for answering that question.

Dr. Jeffrey Miller, senior author of the study and associate professor of dermatology at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania created a simple and reliable "60-second hair count" which lets anyone determine whether they're balding or not.  And if balding is occurring, the hair count lets you know how fast it's happening.

(Image from Haap Media, LTD - All Rights Reserved)

The key is to count the hairs on your comb or brush, but not on your head.  The results may or may not be reassuring but at least it provides a baseline before any hair loss treatments are undertaken.

50% Of Men And Women Experience Some Hair Loss By Age 50

Any type of hair loss is emotional and its worse if you don't really know whether the loss is temporary, permanent or a figment of your imagination.  Having a method for determining what's really happening provides some peace of mind and the opportunity to make decisions about options.

Hair loss is incredibly common among both men and women.  Scientists and hair experts say that fifty percent of men and women will experience some type of hair loss by the age of 50.  Hair loss, especially when its obvious, impacts several factors in life including career, ability to date successfully and over all perception by others.

Is Losing 100 Hairs A Day Really Normal?

Although dermatology experts and the hair media often state that shedding up to 100 hairs a day is normal, other believe that number is way too high.

Unfortunately, like many hair related matters, there is little scientific evidence to provide a rule of thumb over what is actually considered average.  There are are too many factors to take into consideration for scientists to deem a total number of hair that can be safely lost per day.

The current number of 100 lost hairs a day as average is usually based upon the general belief  that the average scalp holds 100,000 hairs, 10 percent of which are at any one time thought to be in the telogen, or resting, phase.

The real question is how normal is it to loss 100 hairs a day?  Another important question is what is really normal in hair loss and does normal extend to all people of all races, ages and sex?

Hair Loss Wash Test

Some dermatologist and hair loss experts recommend the Hair Loss Wash Test which involves washing hair over a sink, so that lost hair can be collected and counted, five days between shampoo periods.  Some people have trouble with this method since it requires a waiting period of five days and many feel the need to wash their hair on a daily basis.

60 Second Hair Count

The Archives of Dermatology study utilized the 60-second hair count. In the study, sixty healthy men aged 20 to 60 without any evidence of hair loss participated. All were white and all but one had straight hair.

Men with long, curly, wavy or textured hair were excluded because of the possible difficulty of running a comb through the strands, which might lead to an increase in the number of broken hair, which were not counted for purposes of determining hair loss.

The men in the study washed their hair three mornings in a row with Neutrogena T/Sal shampoo. On the fourth day, they were issued identical combs and instructed to comb their hair forward over a towel or pillowcase of contrasting color. They were then asked to count the hairs that had dropped out.

This comb-and-count procedure was repeated on the next two days and the number of hairs was validated under a microscope.  After six months, the participants repeated the full procedure.

Normal Hair Loss Numbers For Men By Age

Based on these results, the authors concluded that losing 10 hairs is "normal." In younger men (aged 20 to 40), the shedding range was 0 to 78 hairs with a mean of 10.2 hairs. In the older men, the range was 0 to 43 hairs with a mean of 10.3 hairs.

60 Second Hair Count Instructions

Comb  hair for 60 seconds over a pillow or sheet of contrasting color before washing. Pull the comb from the back top of the scalp forward to the front of the scalp for 60 seconds.

Why 60 seconds?  Dr.  Miller explains "That 60 seconds allows you to dislodge any of the resting hairs that are supposed to be shed,"

Repeat the procedure before three consecutive shampooing sessions, always using the same comb. Count and record the number of hairs in the comb and on the pillow or sheet. Repeat the procedure every month and discuss results with your dermatologist.

The 60 Second Hair Count study was funded by Merck & Co. and Dr. Miller has received consulting fees from drug company Pfizer Inc.

When To Start Panicking Over Hair Loss?

Dr. Miller counsels men who lose more than 50 hairs a day (as counted in the 60-second period) to check with their physician.

"The hair acts like a window to the inside of the body," he said. "If there's something going on inside the body that is not right, for example, low thyroid output or low iron, your hair can react by shedding more. So if you notice that you're shedding a lot of hair on the 60-second hair count, it would be worthwhile to be evaluated by physician to rule out underlying medical causes."

Sudden changes in the amount of hair you lose should also be evaluated, he said.

More information

Visit the American Academy of Family Physicians for more on hair loss.

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