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Published on February 25, 2015

What Your Hairbrush Says About Your Health

February 25, 2015

hairbrushHave you noticed more hair in your hairbrush than usual lately? While normal hair loss can vary from day to day, persistent excessive hair loss may signal a health problem.

Shedding hair is a normal part of the growth process. The amount of hair you lose each day is influenced by many factors, including the changing seasons, normal hormonal fluctuations and lifestyle changes. For example, if you have recently lost a significant amount of weight, are recovering from an illness or surgery, or are experiencing extreme levels of stress, you may temporarily shed more hair more rapidly. Once your body adjusts, hair growth usually returns to normal within a few months.

Getting to the Root of Hair Loss

Excessive hair loss in women can be one of the first signs of a number of health concerns, including:

  • Hormonal changes associated with menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause. In some cases, such as after giving birth, hair growth can be expected to return to normal on its own. Hair thinning due to menopause, on the other hand, may require medication or healthy lifestyle changes to correct.
  • Medical conditions, including anemia, thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases such as lupus or alopecia areata, and skin infections such as ringworm, can trigger hair loss. For many women, promptly treating the underlying condition is all that is necessary to restore hair to its former fullness. In other cases, medical therapy for hair loss or hair replacement procedures may be needed.
  • Medications and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy or drugs used to treat heart disease, can also interfere with the normal hair growth process. If you are troubled by treatment-induced hair loss, speak with your physician. Hair health may improve once treatment is complete, or it may be possible to minimize hair loss by adjusting your dosage or switching to a different medicine.

The Long and Short of Hair Growth

Human hair grows and is shed in a three-phase cycle: anagen or growth phase, catagen or transitional phase, and telogen or resting phase. At any given time, around 85 to 95 percent of hairs are in the growth phase and 10 percent are resting.

During the growth phase, which lasts between two and six years, a new hair arises from the hair follicle (also called the hair bub or root) and grows an average of half an inch per month. The transitional phase lasts approximately two weeks, during which hair growth slows and the hair follicle shrinks. In the resting phase, the old hair stops growing and then detaches from the hair follicle. After resting for one to four months, the cycle repeats and a new hair begins growing from the follicle.

If you suspect that your hair loss may be due to medications, medical treatments or hormones, talk to your doctor about how this symptom could be related. Visit to find a general practitioner today!


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