Quantified Body: Measuring Hair Loss

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self tracking hair loss quantifying hair lossIt so happened that earlier this year I had to turn to a new doctor for a regular medical check-up. While taking my vitals and running other regular diagnostics, he mentioned, in a matter-of-fact tone, that I am developing a male baldness pattern. Terrified, I asked if there is anything could be done to stop it, and he enthusiastically prescribed me propecia. Only after forking over 90 dollars for a 30-days supply at the nearby pharmacy (this medication is not covered by insurance), I realized that he probably “pushed” it on me in order to make some money. After the first month of dutifully popping 3 dollar pills on a daily basis, I switched to generic propecia from Canada (about 45 dollars per month supply, including shipping), then started taking pills every second day, and about a month ago, stopped taking propecia at all. The reason was simple: I was not sure if I am losing hair at all. How would you even measure hair loss?

Update: I have been using two shampoos to stimulate hair growth: Caffeine Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo , alternating it with Hair Loss Argan Oil shampoo and the results so far have been amazing. Before I started using these shampoos, I have been losing on average about 60-75 hairs daily; after starting this shampoo regimen, I am now within the acceptable 30-45 hairs a day range. I started seeing this change after a month of using both shampoos. Naturally, I plan to run separate tests to see if any of these two shampoos is contributing more to the results, or whether they work together as a combination – so stay tuned for more experiments!

Turns out, you don’t need expensive specialized lab tests to find out. A simple yet reliable 60-second hair count test can be performed by anyone, in home conditions. The procedure is described in detail in this paper that sought to estimate the average number of hairs shed by healthy men without signs or symptoms of hair loss:

“The subjects used a shampoo (T/Sal; Neutrogena Corp, Los Angeles, California) once daily for 3 consecutive days in the morning. On the fourth day, they were instructed to comb their hair for 60 seconds before shampooing in the morning, starting at the vertex and combing forward. The hair was combed over a towel or pillowcase of contrasting color so that any shed hairs could be adequately visualized. The subjects then collected the shed hairs and recorded their number. This “comb-and-count” technique was repeated on 3 consecutive days.”

The average number of hairs shed by person was around 10, although the ranges varied across age groups. In my case, the number of hairs shed after 60-seconds of brushing should be in the range of 0-45. I guess, the higher range would suggest a potential problem. It looks like it is possible to gauge the rate of the loss, too. The intrasubject variability (difference in results for the same person, if test is repeated) in the study was very low, so if my personal test yields higher number every consecutive month, this may be a sign of accelerating hair loss.

I guess, I will know for sure in the next 3-4 months!

(Image Credit: e-HealthDiary.com)

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