People grow and lose hair in cycles. It is a normal day-to-day occurrence that the body does to replenish old hair strands. This is otherwise known as the hair growth cycle. It begins with the anagen stage where about eighty-five percent of scalp hair exhibits growth for about two to seven years that is contingent on the genetic make-up of the person. It moves on to the catagen or transition stage where hair growth tends to slow down and prepare itself to be shed. This will be a short period of about two to three weeks. It will move on to the telogen stage where hair will be at rest for a period of three months. This is when the scalp will experience normal hair loss of about thirty to one hundred fifty hair strands a day. There is about fifteen percent of total scalp hair engaged in this phase at any one time. The final stage is the exogen or new hair phase where fresh hair strands begin to emerge as old hair is shed. It then returns to the anagen stage to complete the hair growth cycle.
It would of course be difficult to count each hair strand as it is lost to determine if the amount has gone beyond the normal range. What the hair growth cycle helps explain is that hair loss will trend toward balding when more hair strands exhibit the telogen stage for a longer time than the anagen stage. There are different hair loss conditions that can cause this to happen. It can occur through medication, illness and stress. There are also times when the body lacks certain nutrients that can cause deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals essential for hair growth. Not all hair loss however, can be considered as excessive.
Male pattern baldness is the condition that characterises genetic hair loss. It is exhibited by the recession of the temporal and frontal hairlines that trends toward the back of the head. This will be followed by a noticeable bald spot growing in a circular fashion from the center of the vertex region of the scalp. The hair growth cycle is still functioning in some of the areas though it no longer renews itself in certain areas. Hair loss in male pattern baldness is gradual and can go on for a protracted period lasting throughout the lifetime of the individual.
What could be classified as excessive hair loss is the kind that happens unexpectedly and abruptly. It is when there is an inordinate amount of shedding in a relatively short amount of time. Telogen effluvium is a good example of this occurrence. It is a hair loss condition caused by a traumatic event such as an accident, major surgery, separation from a spouse or the death of a loved one. It can also be influenced by a life event such as birth of a child. This is probably one the most common occurrences of telogen effluvium in women. Hair is lost in clumps because the anagen stage rapidly shifts to the telogen stage as a result of the traumatic situation.
Another example of excessive hair loss is through medication. This is most evident in chemotherapy where the medication not only aggressively eliminates cancer cells, it also does the same with healthy cells as well which also comprises those of the hair follicles.
Illnesses such as hyperthyroidism affect hormonal levels. This in turn can influence the hair growth system to get out of balance, causing hair loss. There are also instances where nutritional deficiencies can result in excessive shedding because there are certain vitamins and nutrients the hair needs for sustenance. Examples of these are biotin that strengthens it and iron, helping carry oxygen throughout the blood system.
Any kind of excessive hair loss calls for the immediate attention of a qualified physician. There could probably be a more serious underlying medical condition that is causing it. Being able to treat this root cause might also alleviate the excessive hair loss that is a result of it.