Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Want to know how much hair you're losing?

Start counting the hairs on your comb, not on your head.

In the June issue of Archives of Dermatology, scientists demonstrate that a so-called "60-second hair count" is a simple and reliable away to get a grip on whether you're balding and, if so, how fast.

The procedure, which can be carried out in the convenience of your own home. "Hair loss is fraught with emotions... Here is a hair count that allows the person to get a handle as to what's going on with their hair," said Dr. Jeffrey Miller, senior author of the study and associate professor of dermatology at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Penn. "With something like the 60-second hair count, you can participate and monitor in an objective fashion what's going on with your hair."

"The reality is that hair loss is incredibly common among men and women. Fifty percent of both genders will have hair loss by the age of 50. That's a big number," added Dr. Doris Day, an attending physician in dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It affects how you're perceived, your ability to date and climb that corporate ladder."

Both the media and dermatology experts are fond of proclaiming that shedding 100 hairs a day is normal. (That's probably too high, Miller said.) But there is little scientific evidence for that number, which is based on the assumption that the average scalp holds 100,000 hairs, 10 percent of which are at any one time in the telogen, or resting, phase.

Not only do experts not know how much hair loss is normal, they also don't have any standardized way of assessing the amount of hair lost on an average day.

"We keep saying the same things over and over, that it's normal to lose 100 hairs a day," Day said. "The question is, how normal is it and what is normal in terms of hair loss."

The "wash test" involves washing one's hair over a sink five days after the last shampoo, a waiting period some might find objectionable.

A more up-to-date method is the 60-second hair count, used in this study.

Here are instructions on how to perform the count:

Comb your hair for 60 seconds over a pillow or sheet of contrasting color before shampooing. Pull the comb from the back top of the scalp forward to the front of the scalp for 60 seconds. "That 60 seconds allows you to dislodge any of the resting hairs that are supposed to be shed.

Repeat the procedure before three consecutive shampooing sessions, always using the same comb. Count and record the number of hairs in the comb and on the pillow or sheet.

Repeat the procedure every month and discuss results with your dermatologist.



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