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, very stressful events 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 breast-feeding 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 dermato- logic 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).