I often hear from folks who want to tell me how many hairs they are losing per day in the hopes that I can tell them which type of hair loss that they have. People sometimes write about losing 100, 250, 350, or even up to 500 hairs per day. I heard from someone who said: “I’m losing around an average of 250 hairs per day. The least I’ve lost since the shedding started was around 200. The most I’ve lost has been around 500. This is not just a little bit of shedding. This isn’t the increase you notice in the summer during seasonal hair loss. No, this is all out shedding and losing hair all over my floor and on my clothing. It’s constantly falling down and clogging the drains or littering the floors. It’s an alarming amount of hair. Is this telogen effluvium? And, if so, when will it end? It’s been doing this for over six weeks.”
Although A Large Amount Of Shed Hairs Are Common With Telogen Effuvium, There Are Other Possibilities: Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to say if this woman had telogen effluvium (which is commonly called TE.) I’m not a doctor or medical professional and I couldn’t see or examine her hair. I can say that a high amount of loss like this can be indicative of telogen effluvium. It’s commonly believed that people with androgen driven hair loss (like androgenetic alopecia, also called AGA) don’t lose nearly this many hairs per day. Rather, their loss is said to be much more slow. This can be the case sometimes, but it’s not always the case. Some people with AGA do shed high amounts of hair, at least some of the time.
There is also a condition called alopecia areata. However, often the shedding in this condition is patchy rather than diffuse. Sometimes, the hair loss with type of condition is so aggressive that it leads to total baldness. Neither of these things appeared to be the case in this situation.
Is There A Trigger?: Other than a high amount of shedding, another hallmark of TE is a trigger. Generally, something happens in your life that places stress on your body. Since hair growth is not necessary for survival, your hair will shed when the body is stressed in order to build reserves. Examples of stressors are things like childbirth, dieting, illness, surgery, changing your medications, and severe emotional stress. Look back in your life and see if you can find a stressor which became a trigger. Or, ask yourself if it’s possible that you have a medical issue that might be an underlying trigger that you’ve not yet discovered.
The Bottom Line: At the end of the day, her high amount of shedding with the absence of excess androgens or patchy hair loss might have indicated that telogen effluvium was a likely cause of her loss. But again, I am not a doctor. If this was in fact TE, you can generally expect the loss to end before the end of six months. If the hair loss goes on for longer than this, then you are looking at chronic effluvium or another form of hair loss. But try not to worry about that right now, as stress could make the loss worse.