As someone who is unabashedly and unapologetically attached to my long, brown locks and who views them as a protective shield, the notion of my hair falling out is nothing short of terrifying. Yes, I deal with errant strands that I lose (and have to pull out of the tub drain) after my daily washing and conditioning routine. Yes, I have to sweep up loose hairs that landed on my bathroom floor during brushing and blowdrying. That's all part of the normal, daily shedding process. But what happens if, like, chunks of hair start falling out? What should you do? Do you consult your stylist? Call a doctor?
Well, there are several things you can and should do. But don't panic. Calm down. You don't want to exacerbate the problem with further anxiety and stress.
Dr. Whitney Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, reminds us that it is normal to shed between 50 to 150 strands per day in an email interview with Bustle. "If you notice more shedding than usual, you may want to identify factors that could be at play. Stress, diet, and hormones all affect our hair," Bowe says.
You can and should consult your stylist and a doctor so that an expert can properly assess your strand situation. Hair loss is so much more than cosmetic.
Bowe explains, "Primary causes of hair loss include certain medications, including birth control pills, genetics, pregnancy, thyroid disorders, and anemia. Autoimmune disorders, like psoriasis, lupus, and alopecia areata, extreme stress, physical trauma, and dramatic weight loss can also trigger hair loss."
Here are some expert tips for how to handle hair loss. That way, you can approach your stylist and/or a medical professional with the full benefit of information.
1. Consider Your Health & Routines
Look at your routine. Have you changed your diet? Are you taking any new medicines? You need to consider if you have made any changes that may have side effects. Bowe says, "I've seen diet affect the density of hair as well. I've had several patients who went on very restricted diets that didn't have enough protein or healthy fats (avocado, salmon, olive oil, nuts) actually lose hair from nutritional deprivation."
2. Examine Your Hair Care Regimen
Examine your hair care routine. Are you using any new or harsh products? You could be having a reaction to an ingredient. Is your brush old, with bunk bristles? If possible, give your hair a rest and wash it less to see if that helps stave off further loss.
Try not to put follicles through any processes that might cause more breakage or loss, including simple things like blowdrying and more heavy duty exercises, like coloring. Bowe recommends "letting your hair air dry whenever possible and try not to use hot tools very close to the scalp, which can actually damage the hair follicles."
3. Where Is The Hair Loss Happening?
Pay attention to where on the head the hair loss is happening. Is it at the hairline? At the back of your head? At your neck? On the sides? Are you wearing any accessories that may be pulling on locks?
4. Consult A Dermatologist
Once you have taken inventory, reach out to a dermatologist. They may want to see you, in case there is a skin or a scalp condition involved.
Bowe says, "If you notice larger clumps of hair coming out while you shower or brush your hair, you should talk to an expert to ensure you do not have any underlying health issues. Dermatologists are trained in skin, hair and nails, and can evaluate for certain medical conditions such as psoriasis, lupus, and alopecia areata (spot baldness)."
It might take a minute to get a sit down with your doctor, so Bowe suggests things that will help your body and mind in the interim. She says, "While waiting for your appointment, it certainly can't hurt to incorporate yoga, exercise, or other activities to reduce stress, and ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet."
5. Diet, Diet, Diet
Chaz Dean, founder of WEN Hair & Body Care, also points out that diet is critical. "You should always consult a dermatologist, but a healthy well-rounded diet is a key factor to healthy hair growth," he says in an email to Bustle. "If you want to amp up the speed of your hair growth an all-organic diet is recommended."
He's serious and suggests a protein-rich menu. "The foundation to follicle growth is protein; Greek yogurt is a great source of Vitamin B5, which helps against hair thinning and hair loss," Dean explains. "Omega 3 fatty acids in salmon will keep your hair looking lustrous and vibrant. Dark green vegetables like kale, spinach and lentils are full of amazing nutrients like Vitamin A. As mentioned before, a healthy scalp equals healthy hair growth- eating these super foods will help boost hair growth."
6. Talk To A Stylist
See if your stylist can assess your hair and scalp and offer a solution. It might be something about which you had no idea. It can't hurt.
7. Time Of The Month
Bowe also points out a cause you may not have thought of. "Women who are menstruating tend to lose a lot of iron every month during their menses, and because iron deficiency can be a cause of hair loss, it is especially important for women to make sure their diet is rich in sources of iron — spinach, meats, tofu, beans are all great sources," she says. See the recurring theme? Diet! Be careful what you eat.
8. Possible Treatments
There are options to assist in the treatment of hair loss. Bowe says, "I find that my patients are confused about their options and frustrated when treatments don’t live up to expectations." This product is now available over-the-counter and Bowe explains that "addresses hair thinning and hair loss with visible results that may be seen in as little as four weeks."
This product is said to help hair grow quickly and it treats hair and scalp with rich oils.
You can try a supplement such as this. It's drug-free and formulated to nourish thinning hair and to promote hair growth from within. Jennifer Aniston and Karlie Kloss are fans.
These are things you can do to assess and the address the falling out of follicles.
Images: Courtesy Brands (3); Pexels; Pixabay; Bustle