We’ve heard it all before. A healthy individual loses around a hundred hairs a day. Nothing to worry about we’re told, as long as they are constantly replaced and the losses occur evenly around the whole scalp. But when hair loss goes well beyond this level it can become quite a problem not only superficially but psychologically as well. It seems quite tedious to count each strand that falls out each day so how do we know if our shedding is considered normal or if it’s the start of something more serious?
Performing a standardised 60 second hair count appears to be a reliable method for assessing hair shedding, according to a report in the Archives of Dermatology. The study involving 60 healthy men (half aged 20 to 40 and half aged 41 to 60) without evidence of male pattern baldness or alopecia areata, set out to define the range of normal hair loss count and determine if shedding remains constant with age.
Background information in the report states there is currently no widely accepted or standard method for assessing the number of hairs shed daily and the belief that we lose 100 hairs per day is based on the assumption that the average scalp contains 100,000 hairs and that 10 percent of those hairs are in the telogen (resting) phase, which lasts for 3 months before the hair is shed.
All men in the study were given identical combs and shampoo and were instructed to wash their hair for three consecutive mornings. On the fourth day before shampooing, they were asked to comb their hair forward for 60 seconds over a towel or pillowcase of contrasting colour. The men combed their hair this way and then counted hairs shed for three consecutive days. This procedure was repeated by the men six months later.
Men in the 20 to 40 years age bracket shed 0 to 78 hairs, with an average loss of 10.2 hairs per 60 second test. Men in the 41 to 60 years age bracket shed 0 to 43 hairs, with an average loss of 10.3 hairs per 60 second test. The results were consistent over the three day period and when the procedure was repeated six months later in both age groups, the hair count did not change much.
The research concluded the 60 second hair count to be a simple, practical and reliable tool for monitoring conditions associated with hair shedding and that dependable results over an extended period of time are obtainable.
“Studies of the 60 second hair count in normal women and in the setting of hair disease still need to be performed,” write the authors of the study.
The study has provided a benchmark for measuring hair loss but it’s important to consider all factors that can influence hair loss, including genetics.
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