ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
CANCER
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Home Renovations by Affluent Families Can Unleash Lead Threat
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
FITNESS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Drink Away Dementia?
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Add your Article

Countdown to Hair Loss

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- 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, may reassure the adult male -- or not.

"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.

Sixty healthy men aged 20 to 60 without evidence of baldness participated. All were white and all but one had straight hair. (The authors excluded, for the most part, men with curly hair and long hair "because of the difficulty of running a comb through the hair, which would lead to increased numbers of broken" hairs, which weren't counted.)

The men washed their hair three mornings in a row with Neutrogena T/Sal shampoo. On the fourth day, they were issued identical combs and instructed to comb their hair forward over a towel or pillowcase of contrasting color. They were then asked to count the hairs that had dropped out. This comb-and-count procedure was repeated on the next two days and the number of hairs was validated under a microscope.

After six months, the participants repeated the full procedure.

Based on these results, the authors concluded that losing 10 hairs is "normal." In younger men (aged 20 to 40), the shedding range was 0 to 78 hairs with a mean of 10.2 hairs. In the older men, the range was 0 to 43 hairs with a mean of 10.3 hairs.

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," Miller said.
* 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.

The study was funded by Merck & Co. and Miller has received consulting fees from drug company Pfizer Inc.

The authors will be releasing comparable data for women in the near future, they said.

When to start panicking over hair loss? Miller counsels men who lose more than 50 hairs a day (as counted in the 60-second period) to check with their physician.

"The hair acts like a window to the inside of the body," he said. "If there's something going on inside the body that is not right, for example, low thyroid output or low iron, your hair can react by shedding more. So if you notice that you're shedding a lot of hair on the 60-second hair count, it would be worthwhile to be evaluated by physician to rule out underlying medical causes."

Sudden changes in the amount of hair you lose should also be evaluated, he said.

More information

Visit the American Academy of Family Physicians for more on hair loss.



SOURCES: Jeffrey J. Miller, M.D., department of dermatology, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Penn.; Doris Day, M.D., attending physician in dermatology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; June 2008, Archives of Dermatology

Last Updated: June 16, 2008

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