A highly stressful event that occurred several months before you start to notice disappearing strands could also be the culprit. The reason: your hair growth cycle is made up of three parts. The anagen stage (aka growth stage) lasts for two to eight years; the intermediate catagen phase happens for two to four weeks; and the telogen, referred to as the shedding cycle can go on for two to four months. And since shedding during the final shedding stage is as its name implies, completely normal, approximately 50 to 100 hairs should pop up in your hair brush and shower drain every day. But if you start to notice sudden or continuous hair loss or thinning, consult with your doctor, not just mention it in passing to your stylist the next time you get a trim.
Possible health concern: Diabetes, celiac disease, immune disorders such as lupus or a hormonal imbalance like those related to thyroid conditions and an increase in testosterone, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Using hair as a barometer for what’s going on—or what you put into—your body is not new. Taking hair samples is common practice for drug tests since many substances in the bloodstream make their way to strands. Because hair lingers on your head before making its way through all three growing phases, your hair reflects your diet, health and lifestyle choices from several months ago.
“Health conditions can cause inflammation and hormonal manipulation and therefore interfere with the hair growth cycle,” says Dr. Sadick. “It’s extremely important to treat the underlying disorder or cause by taking the proper medication or making lifestyle changes as directed by your physician.” Other potential hair helpers: Avoid the five food felons. Eat a healthy diet that includes protein, the building block of hair, check for nutritional allergies like celiac disease, and cease taking certain medications that state hair loss as a side effect (of course, only if you get the green light by your doc). Then sit tight and wait for the three to six months it could take to see any signs of new growth.
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Beauty issue: Severe acne, a surge in hair growth in abnormal places such as your upper lip, side of your face and on your chest, as well as noticeably thinning hair (plus, you’ve got inconsistent periods and weight gain).
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