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Hair loss: what can you do about it?

When everything from your brush and pillow to the shower head is full of hair, you might start to wonder if you have a problem. In fact losing hair is quite natural, and usually it grows back. But how do you tell what’s normal, and when it’s time to do something about abnormal hair loss?

Many people are disconcerted when their brush is full of hair. But it’s generally not defined as a problem unless you’re losing more than 100 hairs a day. Although it’s impossible to generalise, there is a specific cycle at work: every two to six years a hair falls out and a new one grows in its place. But this process is as individual as the number of hairs on your head.

Hereditary hair loss
Many people suffer hair loss particularly in old age. This is because hormones play a major role in the process. Men especially are often predisposed to hair loss, which can even start when they’re young. The reason behind it is that the hair follicles are sensitive to male sex hormones called androgens.

Emotional or health-related causes
There are other factors that can also lead to abnormal hair loss. They include vitamin and iron deficiency, a poor or imbalanced diet (especially if you’re doing a fasting treatment), malfunctions of the thyroid gland or taking certain medication. The time of year also plays an important part, with many people losing more hair than normal in the spring and autumn – although this usually sorts itself out.

The hair pull test
There’s a simple test to find out whether your hair is falling out too easily. You take a few strands between your thumb and forefinger and pull on them gently. If many hairs come out at different places, it could be a sign that something’s not okay. If the feeling that you’re losing more hair than usual persists you should have a dermatologist check out the cause.

Possible treatments
There are various treatment options if a doctor confirms you’re suffering from abnormal hair loss. For men, tablets containing finasteride should help. It makes the body produce less testosterone, which can be one of the reasons for hair loss. Sometimes finasteride can lead to a loss of libido. Women should steer clear of finasteride, as in the worst case it can lead to infertility. An alternative treatment for both men and women is minoxidil, a medication contained in sprays or foam for external use.