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Why is My Hair Falling Out in the Shower! A Simple Guide to Showers and Shedding

If you're finding clumps of hair clinging to the bathroom drain, you're not alone! Explore why our hair falls out in the shower!

Hair Loss in the Shower

When you shower, your scalp is being stimulated. That’s why people sometimes lose their hair in the shower – it’s a very normal occurrence! As you wash your hair, hairs in the telogen phase – meaning they’d be soon to fall out anyway – can start to come loose and fall to the floor.

This is also true if you haven't brushed your hair in a while. If it's been several days since you've showered or brushed your hair, you'll likely notice more hair coming out when you do.

Is It Normal?

Yes, it’s completely normal to lose hair in the shower. However, if you notice bald spots and patches where hair is missing, speak to your doctor. You shouldn't be losing clumps of hair in the shower.

How Much is Normal?

On average, people have about 80,000 to 120,000 hairs on their heads. We have a large amount of hair and some to spare. People shed an average of 100 to 200 hairs per day. Typically, people with thick hair shed more hair, while people with thinner or shorter hair shed less. Also, factors like how often you use chemicals in your hair (i.e. dye, relaxers, perms, etc.) and water quality can influence how much hair you lose in the shower.

Other Causes of Excessive Hair Loss in the Shower

A scalp that has not been stimulated recently may produce more hair shedding in the shower. Tangled hair may lead to more hair loss in the shower as you accidentally pull out hairs that get caught in tangles.

Other causes of excessive hair loss in the shower can be influenced by internal factors, too. Physiologic or emotional stress, endocrine issues, and hormonal shifts, such as those experienced post-pregnancy, can all play a part in increased hair loss. If you notice a loss of more than 100 strands per day or a noticeable increase from your usual hair shedding, it's recommended to discuss it with your doctor.

Stages of Hair Growth

Hair has three stages of growth known as anagen, catagen, and telogen phases.

The anagen phase is the growth phase and lasts 2-6 years, depending on the individual. During this phase, hair is growing and experiencing intense cell renewal. Typically 85-90% of hair is in a growth phase at any given time.

The catagen phase is known as the regressing or transition phase. It's a transition time when the hair stops growing and is cut off from the blood supply. This typically lasts only a few weeks.

The telogen phase is the resting phase. About 10-15% of body hair is in this phase at any given time. During this time, the follicle may be dormant for up to a year with scalp hair (less time for other body hair, like eyelashes). Once those months have passed, new hairs begin to grow from the follicles that old hairs have evacuated.

Hair Shedding vs Hair Loss

Hair shedding is a completely normal and natural process. Shedding stops on its own and can be caused by many changes. Hair loss may occur for other reasons.

Someone who goes through weight changes, pregnancy or birth, stress, or nutritional changes may experience increased shedding. However, the shedding process is typically confined to a specific period of time. Hair loss that is influenced by some external factor can also occur, from hair treatments, tight hairstyles, or other physical trauma to the hair. Hair loss can also happen from internal factors, such as changes to the immune system or other health-related issues, like thyroid hormone imbalances.

The role of stress in hair shedding

It’s no surprise that stress can wreak havoc on many parts of your body, and hair is no exception. Stress can influence the phase of hair growth that your hair is in. Anagen hair growth that occurs under the telogen hair can be influenced by stress. Under periods of duress, up to 70% of anagen hair, or upcoming new hair growth, can be triggered into a telogen phase. In this case, typical hair shedding processes occur, but stress prevents new hair growth from happening, which makes it appear that hair loss is occurring all over the scalp.

Shedding more than 100 strands per day can indicate a condition known as telogen effluvium (TE). TE emerges when more hair roots are prematurely pushed into the telogen phase, often as a direct consequence of a stressful event. Some common triggers relating to stress that can contribute to TE are physical, like childbirth. Trauma or health challenges can also lead to stress-induced hair loss.

Other Factors That Influence Hair Loss

Other factors that can lead to excessive hair shedding include sudden weight loss, medication side effects, hormone changes, inadequate protein intake, and iron deficiency.

If you're not getting the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals, the results can appear in your hair and nails. Deficiencies in nutrients such as protein, niacin, or vitamin D may also directly impact hair loss.

Hormones play another important role in hair loss. Thyroid hormones and changes to estrogen balance can influence hair growth and loss cycles.

3 Ways to Prevent Excessive Hair Shedding

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can prevent excessive hair shedding. Let’s take a look at some of these helpful recommendations.

1. Gentle hair care tips

Your hair is delicate and needs to be treated as such. To prevent excessive hair shedding, it’s important to adopt a gentle hair care regimen. First and foremost, you should decrease or avoid the number of harsh chemical treatments you do to your hair, including bleaching.

A good deep conditioning treatment can also be a great way to replenish the moisture and strength of your hair. Further, you can consider getting regular scalp treatments, as the foundation for healthy hair starts with the scalp!

Moreover, make sure to protect your hair from the harshness of chlorinated water or salt water when going into the pool or ocean. Lastly, just as your skin needs protection from the sun, so too does your hair. Make sure to protect it from the damaging UV rays by either wearing a hat or UV-protectant hair products.

2. Dietary recommendations

Your hair, like many other aspects of physical health, can reflect the nutritional state of your body. Make sure to get adequate nutrients from your diet. Work with your healthcare provider to identify dietary supplements that can help to bridge any nutritional gaps. You need the proper amounts of essential nutrients to keep your hair luscious and shiny.

A primary building block for your hair is protein. A deficiency of protein can result in significant hair changes and even hair loss. Also, protein aids in the production of keratin, a vital protein that helps form hair, skin, and nails.

Healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, support strong, healthy hair and may even help to reduce hair loss (although fish oil has not been shown to affect new hair growth). Sources of omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon, as well as fish oil supplements.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which are necessary for healthy hair. For instance, isolated cell studies have found that hair follicle issues may be associated with oxidative stress. These studies need to be replicated in humans, to see if antioxidants can help to combat hair-related oxidative stress.

3. Shower temperature considerations

Most people take warm to hot showers, but if you actually end your shower with a burst of cold water, it can help close hair cuticles. Also, consider investing in a shower filter. These filters can help soften the water and filter out harmful impurities that can influence hair dryness and shedding.

When to Seek a Medical Professional

It's natural to experience hair falling out in the shower. However, no one should have clumps of hair coming out. That is a different type of hair loss that you should get checked by your doctor.

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