When you exit the shower, it’s not always soap and dirt you’ve left behind. Instead, you may find clumps of hair clinging to your drain.
The good news is, even if you feel like the clump looks super-sized, hair falling out in the shower is totally normal — everyone, regardless of gender, sees some shedding during a scrub.
Keep reading to find out why hair falls out in the shower — and when you should call your doctor about your hair loss you see in the shower or beyond.
There are several phases of hair growth. A 2017 research review showed that these phases include the following phases:
- Anagen. Approximately 85% to 90% of hair is in this active growth phase at any given time.
- Catagen. About 10% of hair is in this degenerative growth phase at any given time.
- Telogen. About 5% to 10% of hair is in this resting phase at any given time.
A 2018 research review showed that when these phases are in their normal balance, the average person sheds about 100 hairs a day.
You shed your hair during the telogen phase. If the phases become imbalanced and more hair enters the telogen phase, you may observe increased hair loss.
Additional factors for hair falling out in the shower
It’s understandably difficult to go back in your shower and count each hair individually. So, before you worry about shower-related hair loss, consider a few factors:
- Your hair thickness. Thick hair typically has a higher number of hairs overall. Proportionally, you may lose more hair because you have more hair.
- When you last took a shower. Hair often falls out in the shower because you stimulate your scalp when you shampoo or condition your hair. Your hairs that were already destined to fall out get the nudge they need from shampooing, and your hair comes off your head. If it’s been a few days since your last shower, you may notice more hairs falling out.
- When you last really brushed your hair. This is a similar principle to when you shower. Combing and brushing your hair, along with showering, are the two events where you’re most likely to notice hair loss.
The shower is usually the place where you notice hair coming out the most. While it may seem like there’s a lot of hair, it’s probably just your body’s natural way of shedding.
If you feel like the clumps of hair you see in the shower are larger than usual — or also are coming out in large amounts on your hairbrush — you should first consider any potential underlying causes.
According to a 2017 research review, an increase in clumps of hair in the shower is often due to telogen effluvium. This condition occurs more hairs are in the telogen phase and, thus, fall out more easily.
The same research review above showed that the most common trigger is something many people know well: stress.
Stress may be physical (such as after an illness or weight loss) or emotional. Usually, if you think back to the past 3 months or more, you may be able to connect higher stress levels to hair loss.
If you don’t feel like stress could be the underlying cause or you’re still not sure, it may be time to call your doctor.
One symptom that could indicate a need to call your doctor is the pattern of hair loss.
When you experience telogen effluvium, the hair loss is usually all over your head. If the hair loss is profound, you may feel like your hair is thinning significantly.
Hair loss due to other conditions, such as alopecia areata, usually causes patchy hair loss. This is a different, but treatable, underlying cause of hair loss.
If you notice your shower hair loss more, there are at-home actions you can take that may slow the shed. These include:
Combatting your stress
Finding ways to relax can help fight stress, which is known to be a cause of hair loss.
Examples could include:
- getting more sleep
- trying to take at least 10 to 15 minutes for yourself every day
Addressing the source of stress
While this isn’t always possible, take a look at what is causing your stress. Perhaps you are taking on too many projects outside of work, or you have a friend or family member who is asking too much of you.
When possible, lessening or removing the stress source can help resolve hair loss and make you feel better overall. Talk to your employer or people who are close with you about how they might be able to help you.
Changing your diet
Your body requires a number of vitamins and minerals to grow hair. These include:
- vitamin A
- vitamin D
- other nutrients
While vitamins are available, often the best way to incorporate these is to add more nutritional foods to your diet.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients. Make an effort to add one to two a day, and you can ideally improve your hair health.
Taking gentle care of your hair
Heat styling, harsh brushing habits, or strong chemicals used on your hair can all increase the rate of hair loss due to breakage.
Taking steps such as switching to a gentle shampoo, allowing your hair to air-dry after bathing, or refraining from wearing very tight hairstyles can all help to reduce the amount of hair that falls out later in the shower.
Does shower frequency matter?
There’s some debate over whether taking fewer showers could reduce hair shedding.
If you’re using super-hot water or irritating hair products in the shower, taking fewer showers could likely reduce hair shedding. But waiting longer between showers as a way to reduce hair loss could just mean you notice more hairs in the shower.
The hairs that do fall out naturally are always going to, no matter what, and it can look like a lot more shedding that it is since they’ve had a few days to build up.
Hair shedding in the shower usually isn’t cause for concern — it’s just the place you’re most likely to notice your hair coming out. This is true for males and females.
Talk with your doctor if you notice any of the following:
- your hair seems to be falling out at an increased rate
- you notice patches of hair coming out
- you can’t track your hair loss back to a possible cause