Why is my hair falling out in the shower? What does it mean?
Reviewed by our clinical team
If you find a clump of hair in the shower whilst you’re drying off, don’t panic. Whilst no one wants to lose hair, it’s extremely common for a small amount to fall out whilst you’re showering.
If you’re concerned about how much hair you’re losing, then it may be helpful to consider treatments and prevention techniques before speaking to your doctor.
Here we share the most common causes as well as expert tips on how to keep your hair strong and healthy.
If you want help with hair loss, our LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor hair loss clinic is here for you. Our clinicians can prescribe the best treatment to slow or reverse hair loss for both men and women.
Why am I losing hair in the shower?
It’s perfectly normal to lose a small amount of hair in the shower - this is the easiest place to spot hair that naturally falls out throughout the day.
What causes normal hair loss?
It’s common for a large proportion of this loss to happen in the shower when you scrub your scalp or condition your hair. This stimulation encourages the hairs that would come out anyway to fall as you rinse.
Hair also naturally comes out when you brush it. Similarly to showering, this pulls out the hairs that would naturally fall from your scalp. If you brush or wash your hair less often, you may spot more hairs falling out.
People with thicker hair may also notice increased shedding as they tend to have more hair overall.
What causes excessive hair loss?
There are a number of common causes of hair loss that could lead to larger clumps of hair in the shower:
- Low iron levels
- Sudden weight loss
- Wearing tight hairstyles
- Psoriasis or dermatitis
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Hormonal changes e.g. just having had a baby
These causes are usually temporary. However hair loss can also be hereditary (particularly male pattern baldness) or a natural part of ageing. Certain medical conditions can also cause excessive hair loss including alopecia areata and cancer treatment.
Stress is also a cause of hair loss however this is relatively rare. Stress related hair loss can be due to extreme physical stress, caused by a serious illness or being in intensive care, or by ongoing severe mental stress. Hair can either be shed from all over the scalp or in patches.
How much hair loss is normal?
Hair shedding is completely normal. The average person loses between 50 to 100 hairs every day, depending on its thickness and length. This hair will normally grow back during the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle.
Hair growth stages
Our hair goes through a continuous growth cycle, however unlike other mammals, it can grow and shed at any time. Random strands will continuously be in one of three stages of growth:
The majority of hair is in this phase of active growth where cells rapidly divide to form new hair that replaces older strands. The longer this phase, the longer your hair will be able to grow.
Around 3% of hairs are in this degenerative phase in which the hair follicles shrink and growth slows to a stop, creating what is known as a ‘club hair’.
Telogen. Here is where club hairs enter a resting phase that lasts for approximately 100 days. During this stage you will experience normal shedding.
Hair shedding vs hair breaking
If you’re finding excessive strands of hair in the shower, on your hairbrush or on your clothes, it might not be due to shedding. Hair breakage is also common, whereby the strand snaps rather than falls out completely.
Hair is more likely to break if it’s roughly handled or comes into contact with extreme heat. For example brushing your hair vigorously or using straighteners every day. Gently caring for your hair can reduce hair breakages, as can reducing your use of styling tools to avoid heat damage.
Dry hair is another common cause of breakages. Keep it hydrated by drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet and repairing your hair with moisturising and strengthening treatments.
When should you contact a doctor?
If you experience sudden hair loss, develop bald patches or you lose hair in large clumps, you should see a doctor to discuss possible causes. You should also book an appointment if you have any other symptoms including itching or burning on your scalp.
Your GP will be able to recommend treatments and offer support if hair loss is affecting your mental wellbeing.
Tips for preventing hair loss
There are various things you can do to prevent hair loss and encourage stronger, healthier hair.
1. Practise a good hair care regime
Looking after your hair is key to keeping it strong and healthy, whilst possibly preventing hair loss and breakages.
Limit heat styling tools
Using heat on your hair can cause hair to break and increase the chance of hair loss over time if the strands become weak. Reduce your usage of tools such as hair dryers, straighteners and curling irons to no more than a couple of times a week and make sure to use ceramic irons and heat protection products.
Avoid tight hairstyles
Hairstyles that pull and stretch the hair such as tight ponytails, braids and cornrows are more likely to cause damage by pulling the strands from the scalp.
Avoid bleaching your hair
Chemical treatments and hair dye that include bleach can damage the hair, causing it to become brittle and break. Strong hydrogen peroxide can also burn the scalp or cause swelling, leading to increased hair loss.
2. Eat a balanced diet
What you eat affects every part of your body, including the health of your hair. Ensure you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get all the nutrients your hair needs to stay strong. These include iron, protein, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and biotin.
3. Take supplements
If you are deficient in nutrients, you may need to take supplements to get the vitamins and minerals you need for hair growth. This includes iron, zinc, biotin and selenium. More research is needed to understand whether or not these vitamins increase hair growth, however it’s shown that a deficiency can lead to hair loss. Find out more about hair loss vitamins and which may work best for you.
4. Reduce your stress levels
Whilst research isn’t definitive as to whether stress can cause hair loss, it can worsen symptoms for those with alopecia. Plus we should all minimise stress for our general wellbeing. Practice self care with meditation, daily exercise and by getting a better night’s sleep.
Hair loss treatments
Most causes of hair loss are temporary or down to ageing and therefore don’t need treatment. Hair loss caused by a medical condition will also usually grow back after recovery.
However if symptoms are affecting your mental health, you may wish to try some of the recommended treatments for hair loss.
Regaine is a treatment that contains the active ingredient minoxidil. It is thought to promote hair regrowth by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles and extending the growth phase.
Propecia is a well-known hair loss treatment that contains the active ingredient finasteride. Both are the main treatments for male pattern baldness and are sold as a tablet. They are best used early on in the development of hair loss.
Hair loss shampoos
Alpecin is a caffeine based treatment is thought to improve hair strength due to the inclusion of zinc, vitamin A and niacin.
Some people may also use shampoos that contain saw palmetto. That's because its thought saw palmetto might help block the action of DHT.
You can order a hair loss treatment bundle form our service which contains 5% minoxidil solution, DHT blocking shampoo and biotin tablets.
Hair shedding in the shower is usually nothing to worry about. You will naturally lose around 100 strands each day, many of which will fall as you clean your hair and loosen them from your scalp.
If you notice any other symptoms including sudden hair loss, bald patches or irritation, speak to your doctor to check for other causes including low iron levels, pregnancy or weight loss.
You can also get effective men's hair loss treatment online at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. Simply complete a short consultation to order your recommended treatment available for either discreet delivery or same-day collection..