The Stages of Hair Loss: How Much Hair Loss is Normal?
There are a great many reasons why one might experience hair loss in their life. If you are undergoing a loss of your hair, you might want to know why, how long it is going to go on, and what the stages of hair loss are.
This article will help inform you of what it means to lose your hair and why it happens. By the end, you should have a much better understanding of what your options are and how to discuss your options with a specialist.
Is Being Hairless Normal?
In short, yes. Some hair loss is always normal. As you grow up, you will shed a normal amount of hair. Over time, it is normal that you may end up hairless atop the top of your head.
Some people will lose more, and some will lose less. Losing all your hair, even if rare, is actually normal for some people. The speed at which this happens, though, is what may make it abnormal.
How Much Hair Should I Be Losing?
It is normal to lose between fifty and one hundred hairs each day due to normal shedding. This does not mean that you lose these hairs forever, but sometimes some hair follicles go into a state of dormancy and shedding. After this, many of these follicles will start to regrow what they once lost.
As every person has over one hundred thousand hair follicles, in general, this will not be a large problem. Even if you never grew back your hairs, you would need to lose hair for three full years to lose them all. But, this also proves that your hair follicles regrow what they have lost otherwise you would already be bald by now.
If you notice that you are losing over two or three hundred hairs a day, or otherwise more than normal, you can consult your doctor. Sometimes, losing more hair than normal can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. It may also be an indicator of significant stress or a normal process such as menopause or post-pregnancy changes.
How Much Hair Loss Is Normal Over My Life?
The answer to this is very different depending on both the reason behind the hair loss and the individual. It is impossible to predict how much hair someone will lose unless it is through specific circumstances. This can include suffering from a specific disease or undergoing therapy that causes complete hair loss.
There are several factors, though, that can cause more or less hair loss over a day.
Both men and women, as well as younger individuals, lose approximately 50-100 hairs each day. It does not matter whether it is summer or winter, and the weather should not affect this.
Things that increase the number of hairs you may lose, though, include the following:
- Hair Washing: The extra stress on your hair during a hair wash can release up to between 150-200 hairs. Many of these will be drained away, but if it has been a while since your last hair wash you may see several more than this number of hairs.
- Menopause: The hormonal changes due to menopause can cause a significant increase in the number of hairs lost over this time. It is normal to lose 200-300 hairs per day during this time.
- Childbirth or Injury: The trauma to the body either after childbirth or after a significant injury can push a person to shed extra hair. This can increase hair loss to over 300-400 hairs per day. For this description, major surgery can count as injury and will cause the same loss of hair.
Who Loses Hair?
Older men are generally stereotyped as losing large amounts of hair over their lifetime. This is not always true, though, as there are conditions where this is not the only case. The following are other cases where people may lose hair regardless of their biological sex:
Some people may get an autoimmune disease called Alopecia Areata over their lives. This is often known as “Alopecia”. This can cause loss of hair, up to a complete shedding of hair from the scalp in a condition called “Alopecia Totalis”.
Androgenetic Alopecia (Hereditary Pattern Baldness)
Men are notorious for losing their hair over their life. This occurs in a specific pattern, with a receding hairline happening at the same time as thinning hair on the top of their head. It is the most well-known type of hair loss and is often parodied or commented on in the popular culture.
This has no external cause and can happen at any point in the man’s life. It may even start during the individual’s teenage years, which can cause significant distress.
Genetics, hormonal changes, or simply aging can cause it. It is not something that a doctor can cure due to it being a natural process, but several therapies are available to slow it down.
Also, female baldness can come from similar conditions. This is much less common and occurs over the entire head or only the top. The front of the hair often remains, but people often choose to shave this if it is all that remains.
Drugs & Medications
Some medications can cause hair loss. These can include amphetamines, beta-blockers, heparin, levodopa, lithium, or warfarin.
One of the more famous of these is the loss of hair due to chemotherapy treatment. These treatments cause a large amount of hair loss and can lead to significant baldness.
Several illnesses can cause someone to lose their hair in larger amounts. One example of this includes thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism. Also, nutritional issues or vitamin C deficiency can cause it.
For this reason, doctors recommend that if you find yourself losing large amounts of hair, you should check in with a physician. They may see a larger problem that you are not aware of and be able to pass you on to a consultant.
This is a form of hair loss that occurs due to stresses in the body. It tends to happen several months after the traumatic event and can occur due to several conditions. Examples include significant infection, major surgery, or toll the birth of a child takes on a body.
This type of hair loss tends to happen all over the scalp and does not leave specific bald spots. You may not even notice it at first due to the loss spreading across the whole head instead of a small area.
This is not a disease like the above alopecia. Traumatic alopecia is instead caused by overzealous hairdressing.
Examples of techniques that can cause this issue include using the following:
- Pulling on the hair, such as with tight braids, or cornrows
- Heating or twisting the hair such as using curlers or rollers
- Using chemicals in the hair such as bleach or strong dyes
Is There a Cure?
As there are several different kinds of baldness, there is not just one solution to these issues. Some issues even have no cure at all.
Pattern baldness, for example, has no known cure. You can slow it down by working with physicians who specialize in the area of pattern baldness, but they cannot stop it.
Several doctors can prescribe medications such as Minoxidil to help prevent people from losing their hair. Sometimes, they prescribe the alternative medication Finasteride to slow down this process. Unfortunately, it does not completely stop hair loss and there are no permanent solutions to the issue.
For some, the side effects of Finasteride and Minoxidil are both worse than the issues caused by losing hair. If you talk to a doctor, make sure to discuss your options so that you have the most information available to you.
Most of the other issues listed above have cures. This is either due to them being injuries that will resolve on their own or known, curable diseases. Or, some of them are things such as deficiencies in essential foods. This is resolvable by taking in more of the listed vitamins or minerals.
The Stages of Hair Loss
As people start to lose hair, there are several stages they go through. The following is a list of the different stages they undergo to help you understand that these are normal. If you find yourself losing hair in this way, it is symptomatic of male pattern baldness and many other kinds.
This is often described as the “Hamilton-Norwood” scale. This scale makes use of two different anatomists’ studies to create a list of seven stages of hair loss.
This is not a significant sign of hair loss. It is not marked by any significant level of hair loss anywhere on the head.
In this stage, the hair starts to recede around the temples on the individual’s head. This is rare in younger individuals and can be more often seen in older adult males.
This is the first stage where the hair loss is visible to the average person. Hair does not only recede but becomes thinner where it is receding into. The areas where the hair has receded from are either covered in thin hair or have none at all.
Once again, this level of hair loss is especially common in the elderly and rare in younger individuals outside of male pattern baldness.
There is another level of Stage 3 hair loss called “Vertex Baldness”. This means the hair is also starting to disappear from the top of the head as well as the temples.
In this situation, the hairline has receded to the point where there is very little at the top of the head or next to the temples. Stage 4’s definition is that the individual still has a strip of hair between the crown and the temples.
If the hair has receded from the temple but the crown still includes all its hair, this can still count as stage 4. It depends on how much the hair has receded from the front.
As Stage 4 continues, the strip of hair between the crown and temples becomes much thinner. At this stage, the temples’ recession and the crown’s hair loss almost meet.
At stage 6, the hair loss has gotten to the point where the strip between the crown and temple may even have completely disappeared. It is a significant and noticeable loss of hair.
If the strip has completely disappeared, this is Stage 6A, and the two areas of hair loss are considered one at this point.
This is the highest level of hair loss on the Hamilton-Norwood scale. While Hamilton had a stage 8, this was only a more extreme version of stage 7.
At this stage, the hair on the head only appears above the ears and around the back of the head. Any remaining hair atop the head is minimal and thin, and the hair loss becomes akin to one large circle.
Hair Loss in Adults: Women & Men
The Hamilton-Norwood scale defines male pattern baldness, but there is another scale used for women. This is the Ludwig scale. It only uses three stages but follows a similar pattern to the Hamilton-Norwood scale.
The hair on the top of the head and at the crown starts to thin. This is noticeable to the extent that it becomes see-through.
The scalp on individuals with this hair loss becomes visible and hair loss is noticeable to others.
The hair on the crown of the head is gone. Any remaining is thin, and the individual appears bald. This could even be to the extent that the person has no hair at all on the crown of their head.
Where Should I Look Next?
Now you understand more about the stages of hair loss, it is normal that you may have further questions. If this is the case, feel free to get in contact with our specialists.
Our people are available at all times to help answer any issues you may have and be able to help you to move forward. We can help with your hair loss issues, so you only need to pick up the phone today to get the answers you need!