It's normal to shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. But if your pillow is full of loose strands each morning, you may be losing more hair than you are growing. Try these steps:
- Know when to wait it out. It's common to lose hair three to six months after surgery, major injury, a very stressful event, or pregnancy. Be patient: It may take two years for hair to normalize after pregnancy!
- Check your birth control. Some women lose hair while using the contraceptive pill, or weeks or months after stopping it. Hair loss in the family? Ask your doctor about low- or no-progesterone oral contraception.
- See a dermatologist. With a blood test and skin biopsy, we can tell if you have anemia or low B12 (supplements can help) or a condition such as a slow thyroid. Medication (Synthroid and others) can help.
- Get your biotin. This nutrient, found in egg yolks and liver, helps make hair healthier. Try for 30 micrograms a day, 35 if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant.
- Pick the right products. Sprays and styling aids that say "light" or "gentle" are easiest to wash out without breaking hair, and they help hair fluff and look fuller.
- Use 2 percent minoxidil. Apply to the scalp daily to help maintain your hair. If you're losing round patches of hair, ask a doctor about steroids.
- See a transplant surgeon. Your dermatologist can suggest an experienced pro; it's key for this pricey procedure.
Ellen Marmur, M.D., is the chief of the division of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She is also the coauthor of Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin (Atria, 2010).