Women are shocked and surprised that their hair is falling out, and they frequently report to their doctor that “My hair is falling out by the handful!” Hair loss can be traumatic, but around 100 to 200 strands of hair loss a day is normal. Shedding of hair usually occurs on a 5 to 7 year cycle of growth and shedding. At any time 10 percent of hair is in a resting phase and not growing. When it grows, the hair root (follicle) will push out the old strand with a new, short strand.
The most common type of hair loss, called alopecia, is hereditary thinning. It is popularly believed that it is inherited through the mother, but can come from either or both parents. Fifty percent of people (both men and women) will develop some hereditary hair loss by 50 years of age, but it can occur in some people as early as age 20 or in their teens. In females it is referred to as female pattern thinning.
Improper hair care and hair treatments can damage hair and cause it to break off. Hormones can cause hair loss. In and around menopause when the estrogen of women goes down, hair thinning may be noticed. Around age 60 or 70 aging can cause further thinning. Low serum iron and low thyroid levels can also cause hair loss. Stress (such as a death in the family, birth of a baby, severe illness with high fever, major surgery, or stressful relationships) may trigger a shedding episode.
There are many products at drugstores that claim to build back hair volume. Most are empty claims. Hair, like nails, is made up of protein. Eating adequate amounts of protein helps keep hair in peak condition.