If you’ve ever slid your shower curtain out of the way only to find a dried-up clump of hair from your last rinse clinging to the drain, you’re not alone. In fact, shedding hair in the shower is so common that there are scores of how-to articles for clearing out those pesky hairs. It all has to do with the hair growth cycle.
Every hair follicle on your scalp undergoes three different phases, per Cosmopolitan. The first stage, called anagen, is by far the longest. It’s in these two to seven years that the hair grows longer and thicker. In the short-lived catagen stage, the hair fiber stops growing. The process then culminates in the telogen stage, when old hair gets shed, making way for a new hair to eventually sprout up in its place. At any given time, between 5 and 10% of your hair is in the final stage, which leads to an average loss of 50 to 100 hairs per day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. However, this number isn’t the same for everyone. Here’s what you need to know.
Many factors affect the amount of hair you shed
According to Dr. Wilma Bergfeld, a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss, most hair shedding occurs in the shower. However, “if you’re continuing to shed long after you’ve shampooed or you’re suddenly finding it all over your clothes — that could signal a problem,” she told the Cleveland Clinic.
When women with long or thick locks wash their hair, they may see between 150 and 200 hairs fall out. Additionally, people who opt to wash their hair only once or twice a week are more likely to see increased shedding as a result of the buildup. For others, excess shedding could be cause for concern. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common trigger for abnormal hair loss is stress, so if you’ve been noticing more hair than usual fall out in the shower, try getting more sleep, amping up your exercise routine, or meditating (via Healthline). Other causes of hair loss include hormonal changes, illness, weight loss, or certain medications.
In most cases, hair falling out in the shower is a completely natural phenomenon, and even if you’re experiencing more hair loss than normal, your doctor should be able to suss out the issue. “When someone comes in talking about finding fistfuls of hair, we do an evaluation and go back four to six weeks to pinpoint any major life events or conditions that could be contributing to it,” Dr. Bergfeld said. “If we can find the cause we can usually treat it.”
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