First is the Anagen phase. In this phase about 85% to 90% of hair is in the growth phase. This will last anywhere from 2 to 6 years and hair can grow as much as a half foot per year although it has been known to grow longer than that in some cases.
The second is the Catagen phase. This is a transitional phase where the about 2 to 3% of hair follicles shrink, and at the base of the hair follicle, the dermal papilla separates itself from the hair follicle. It is the job of the dermal papilla to get nourishment from the blood stream to the hair.
The third stage is the Telogen phase. This is the resting phase that lasts for about 5 to 6 weeks. During this time the hair does not grow and the dermal papilla is still in its resting phase. Some of the hair will be pulled out of the scalp through shampooing or brushing. At the end of the resting period, the hair re-enters the Anagen phase and hair growth begins again. When the dermal papilla reconnects with the hair follicle, if the old hair has not been released, it will be pushed out with the new growth.
It is normal to lose up to about 100 hairs per day but when you are losing more hair than usual, you need to pay attention.
There are several forms hair loss can take.
Alopecia areata is a condition that both men and women can experience and it manifests itself as a small balding spot. It is believed to be an auto-immune disease in which the body considers the hair follicle to be a foreign substance that it must attack. In some cases it is a temporary situation that can correct itself but most people need to address the situation. A physician can prescribe certain drugs to remedy the situation. But changing to a good diet and taking supplements like A and D, E, C, B-complex, especially B6, Q10, Evening Primrose, Calcium, Magnesium, and herbs such as saw palmetto, sage, rosemary and pau-de-arco can be very beneficial. You can also use a topical solution like Minoxidil to precipitate hair growth,
Androgenetic Alopecia is when the enzymes 5 alpha reductase converts the male hormone testosterone, into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This causes the hair shaft to shrink more and more with each resting and growing cycle. The end result is the eventual loss of hair. This is usually genetic and can often be treated successfully with Minoxidil.
Telogen effluvium is a temporary hair loss that occurs from some kind of severe stress such as, major surgery, child birth, starting or stopping birth control pills or even dieting drugs. This stress causes a premature resting phase that can last up to 3 months, and then the shedding begins. When the cause of the stress is no longer affecting the individual then hair can go back into the growth stage and the situation can correct itself.
Anagen effluvium is different from telogen effluvium in that hair loss occurs very quickly due to exposure from radiation or chemotherapy in cancer treatments. Unfortunately, the side effect is immediate hair loss, sometimes happening overnight or coming out in clumps. The good news is that once the radiation or chemotherapy is completed the hair growth usually begins again.
Hair loss can be combated, especially if you catch it early. Be educated about the subject and take control of the situation. Between you and your physician, hair loss can often be significantly reduced or handled.