Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Shedding Hair in Men - What is Normal?
There has been no widely accepted method for assessing the number of hairs that are normally lost each day. Fresh from the Archives of Dermatology, we now know what a "normal" rate of hair shedding is in white men.
They used a method called the "60-second hair count". They studied white men with straight hair age 20-40 and another group of healthy white men age 41-60. Both age groups did the "60-second count" by combing the tops of their head (not the sides) from back to front over a pillow for 60 seconds. They used identical combs and shampoo for 3 consecutive days and did the combing on the 4th day. After combing for 60 seconds, they counted the number of intact hairs on the pillow and the comb. The test was repeated on 2 separate occasions.
The result? In the younger age group (20-40), average hair loss was 10.2 hairs and the older group (41-60) was 10.6 hairs, essentially the same.
The authors noted that the results may not generalize to women, non-white ethnicities and curly hair.
I must say I get more inquiries about hair loss from women than from men and the most common type of hair loss in women is female pattern balding which is diffuse rather than over the temple or crown or back like a man. Although it is probably hormonally related, we don't have a clear understanding of the physiology and it can happen at any time.
Other causes for female hair loss are a temporary shedding called "telogen effluvium" that often follows childbirth, crash dieting or severe stress. Certain types of autoimmune disorders result in alopecia areata, where hair comes out in clumps or patches.
I don't know if the "60-second" test would generalize to women. I will try it and report back on this blog, but keep in mind curly hair might be different. You can easily try it at home (male or female) and see if you average about 10 hairs too.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 10:13 PM