Q: I'm 18 years and I used to have very thick hair but with the time my hair became
very thin. When I wash it more than 50 hairs fall and that happens when I brush it.
What can cause that? I wash my hair every 2nd day. Is that very often? May that cause
hair loss? I have oily roots and dry ends and that is the reason that I wash it every
second day. What is the solution for this?
A: While everyone loses around 40 hairs every day in the hair's natural growth and
shedding cycle, it sounds as though you are experiencing something more significant in
the amount of hair you are shedding. Most women report experiencing approximately
40% hair loss by the age of 60, but regardless of age, for a woman, dealing with hair
loss is stressful and upsetting.
My first and strongest recommendation for you is to see your doctor. Take with you
any photographs you might have that will illustrate the extent of your hair loss. And be
sure to find out if any of the women in your family have experienced similar types of
hair loss in their lifetimes, both on your father's and mother's sides of the family. Being
prepared by having as much information as you possibly can before talking to your
doctor will help him make better determinations regarding the potential causes for the
loss, and will help him better determine whether the cause is hereditary (genetic),
environmental, or medical (infection, or hormonal).
Here are some questions you should ask yourself so that you can have the answers ready for your doctor:
1. How long have you been noticing the hair loss?
2. Is the hair loss more prevalent in one or more areas of the scalp?
3. Have you noticed any increase in hair growth on other parts of the body/face?
4. Have you been taking any medications or dietary supplements, or were you suffering from any illnesses
prior to noticing the loss of hair
5. Have you had any change in your environment prior to noticing the loss of hair, i.e. moved to a new
location, new job environment, etc.?
6. Have you changed your diet prior to noticing the hair loss?
7. Are there any women (or men) in your family, whom have experienced similar hair loss?
8. Have you made any changes in your hair care routine prior to noticing the hair loss?
There are a lot of causes for hair loss among women. Some of these causes will
typically have secondary symptoms that accompany the hair loss, such as redness,
irritation, inflammation, sensitivity, and itchiness of the scalp, in addition to scaly and/or
flakiness of the scalp. The problem could be as simple as an allergic reaction, an
infection (though these almost always have other symptoms as well as the hair loss).
It could also be more complicated problems like alopecia or hormonal imbalance.
These may or may not have secondary symptoms, and can be difficult to diagnose and
treat. If your doctor is unable to offer you any help, or if you feel he or she is not taking
your concern seriously, ask for a referral to a dermatologist, or find one on your own.
A dermatologist's field of study is more specific to skin and hair and he or she should
have more experience and be better acquainted with the type of problem you are having.
You asked specifically about the frequency with which you wash your hair (whether it
is too often) and its relationship to the hair loss. I do want to at least calm your concerns
about that. You should wash your hair often enough to keep your scalp clean. For some
people daily shampooing is needed, while for others shampooing once a week may be
enough. Unless you are experiencing a reaction to the products you are using to
shampoo your hair, this should not cause your hair loss.
Your complaint of 'oily scalp and dry ends' is a common one. If shampooing every
other day gives you the results you desire, you can feel free to continue that routine.
However, I can offer you the following tips as well: You can use witch hazel on a cotton
ball or cosmetic pad and apply it to your scalp to remove excess oils. Witch hazel is a
gentle astringent that won't damage your hair. Also, if after you have shampooed and
conditioned your hair you follow the warm water rinsing with a cool water rinse you will
tighten the pores of the scalp and help reduce the production of oils for a time. This can
help to reduce the oily scalp problem.
As for the dry ends, use a leave-in spray conditioner on the ends of your hair only
before styling and you might also want to add a spray on anti-frizz shine enhancer to
protect against heat styling damage and keep the ends of your hair looking shiny and
smooth. (I personally use Infusium 23 leave-in conditioner and CitriShine Spray
Laminator with my clients, who love the results.)