Eleanor Black: I'm shedding, should I be concerned?

Last updated 05:00 08/10/2017

It's hair today, gone tomorrow.

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OPINION: Everywhere I go, I leave a trail of hair. Strands stick to the shoulders of every jacket, float to the floor as I walk, are strewn through my bed and my car. They get into my children's drawers and onto their towels. It's kind of poetic but mostly disgusting.

I wouldn't say I am particularly hair-proud, but I have always had a lot of the stuff. Mine grows quickly, it's thick and naturally stick-straight, and I generally just wash it, let it air dry and get on with my life. But recently, it has crossed my mind to collect the fallen strands in case I need to make a wig.

Dr Google tells me that each of the 100,000 or so hairs on our heads grows for two to six years and then rests for up to four months before falling out. At any one time about 10 per cent of your hair is "resting".

It is normal to shed 50 to 100 hairs a day, but I am convinced I am losing more than that. It seems that each time I touch my hair, some drops out. Case in point: I just pulled my hair into a loose ponytail as an experiment, and 11 hairs came out. Then I did it again, and got five more. And then I ran my fingers through it, and got five more. Gah!

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Excessive shedding, known as telogen effluvium, happens about two to six months after a significant event that halts hair growth, such as childbirth, sudden weight loss, an operation, or major stress.

None of that applies to me. Sure, my children are beautiful demons and my to-do list is a tired Trump joke ('Now there's a guy's with magnificent hair, bada-boom!') but my life is pretty great. Nothing to literally lose my hair over.

Besides – been there, done that. Five years ago we were visiting family in Los Angeles when I combed my hair and came away with a clump big enough to block a drain. "What is going on!?" I cried, thinking it had something to do with air travel or the change of season or (because I was hopped up on hormones) imminent death. My sister-in-law, a neurologist, pointed at the five-month-old sitting in my lap.

I saw my GP recently, and she says that despite my persistent fatigue and case of the bitchys, I am in good health – my blood pressure is perfection – so I can only conclude that this new hair loss situation is age-related. Happily there are products I can use to make myself feel better about it.  

In no time at all, I have developed a dependence on dry shampoo, for body and bounce. If I go without, my hair looks like two brown handkerchiefs laying flat against my cheeks. I have also switched shampoos and chopped my hair, from shoulder-length to chin-length.

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It's the same haircut I had when I was 14, which may or may not be significant.

- Stuff


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