Aug 23

Is Brushing Your Hair During Telogen Effluvium Bad?

By: Ava Alderman:  When your hair is shedding or falling out, you usually can’t help but notice that the problem gets worse every time that you manipulate your hair.  This means when you wash it, brush it, style it, or put it up, you might notice more hair coming out.  As a result, you can begin to wonder if these tasks are bad for you and your hair, (considering the situation,) and whether or not you should do less of these things.

There seems to be particular concern about brushing. We can all get away with washing our hair a little less, but brushing is something that is carried out daily.  Someone might ask: “I used to love to brush my hair and I would do so for about five minutes before bed time.  This would keep my hair shiny and manageable.  Well, now my hair is shedding and brushing it is traumatic.  I brush and tons of hair comes out and my hair doesn’t look nice in the way it used to.  Is it bad to brush your hair when you have telogen effluvium?”

I am not sure that bad is the right word.  The thing is, what comes out in your hair brush are hairs that were in the resting phase and that were eventually going to fall out anyway.  Sure, by brushing, you may have shortened their life span by a couple of days, but they were eventually going to fall out.  Hair that is growing and is being nourished isn’t going to come out with brushing, unless you are brushing REALLY hard and too aggressively.

Theoretically, brushing is good for your hair and scalp.  It clears debris on the scalp and stimulates blood flow.  But when you are shedding a lot, it can be traumatic to brush your hair.  Even if you intellectually know that those hairs were going to come out anyway, it can be excruciating to know that what you are doing is pulling them out.  When you are shedding, it can feel as if every hair counts.

I can tell you what seemed to help me, at least a little.  My hair is wavy. So there is no way that I’m going to get by without brushing it or combing.  It would tangle otherwise.  But, when I brushed, ropes of hair would come out and it would make me very upset.  So I started using either a wide toothed comb or a brush made specifically for very curly hair.  The bristles were spaced further apart and had more give.  So they didn’t pull as much and didn’t cause as much hair to fall out.

Plus, I would hold down my hair at the roots and focus mainly on just the ends of my hair.  This too would help the hair not to pull as much and would result in less shedding.

So to answer the question, brushing your hair isn’t bad for your you or for your scalp, unless you are pulling too hard.  But when you are shedding, it can be difficult psychologically.  So you can use grooming instruments that don’t pull as much and can take special care when you brush.  Some people with really short or straight hair can get away with finger combing if the shedding is really severe.

One other tip I can offer is that if you use a little spray on conditioner before you brush or comb, it will pull even less.  I learned a lot of tricks like this when my hair was shedding. You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 16

I’m A Woman Losing My Hair And This Makes Me Look Much Older

By: Ava Alderman:  These is no question that there are some things that contribute to a youthful look.  Examples of some of things are a full head of hair, clear, wrinkle-free skin, and a youthful body.  Typically, most of these things age in their own time.  However, if you are dealing with a hair loss issue, you may perceive that you have the hair of someone much older.  And you may worry that this gives you the overall appearance of someone that you are not yet ready to be.

Someone might comment: “I am only in my late twenties.  For the past four months, I have lost an alarming amount of hair.  I am still closely examining my regrowth to see if there is miniaturization.  Because I am not yet sure if I have telogen effluvium or AGA.  However, even without a lot of miniaturization yet, the appearance of my hair is drastically different.  It’s dry and fly away.  It looks – and there’s really no better word for this – sick.  The other day when I was in the check out line, the cashier called me ma’am.  This has never happened to me before. I also notice less men checking me out when I am out in pubic.  I feel so much worse about myself now.  I feel as if I look ten years older, at least.  My hair used to be lush, full, and beautiful.  Now it just looks pitiful and it makes me look older.  How do I address this?”

I felt similarly when I had chronic telogen effluvium with some miniaturization thrown into the mix.  I can tell you some things that helped me.

A Hair Cut: At one point I considered a pixie cut to just take some of the pressure off of me psychologically.  But close to that time period, I saw someone with very thin hair with a pixie cut and I noticed that you could see scalp. Now, I think if you have course hair, perhaps it would be OK.  However, my hair is fine, so I knew that scalp coverage might be an issue for me.  Ultimately, I opted for a blunt bob.  This made me look like I had more hair than I did.  And, I made sure that the bob was long enough where I could wear my hair up.  Frankly, I wore my hair in a lot of gentle pony tails at that time. Because it just looked better.  You didn’t see the dryness or the fly away texture.  And it kept the spent hairs from being on my clothes. (I preferred using a large barrette rather than an elastic because I noticed this pulled out much less hair.)

Play Up Attributes Other Than Your Hair: When I wore my hair up, I made a point of playing up my eyes.  And, during that time, I really embraced exercise for a couple of reasons. First, it was a nice stress reliever.  But most importantly, I figured if my hair wasn’t going to look nice, my body definitely was.  Having a nicer figure gave me more confidence.  And I paid careful attention to wearing flattering clothes.

Don’t Project What Isn’t There: Listen, when we are shedding hair, we start to believe the worst and we think that we can’t look our best without very thick or very long hair.  This just isn’t true. Look at Halle Berry, who is one of the most beautiful women in the world, despite having  a very simple, short hair cut.  Or Ginnifer Goodwin.  When you look at these women, the focus is certainly not on their hair, but they look amazing.  You can look great without solely relying on your hair.

I know that it’s hard not to be self conscious about this.  But I promise that you are the one who notices this the most.  The rest of the world does not notice this nearly as much as you assume.  Frankly, once my hair loss resolved, I realized how much time and energy I had wasted with my worry.  Try to focus on the things that you can control – your skin, your make up, your fitness, and your clothing.  This will ensure that you can have confidence while you are waiting for your hair loss to resolve.

I know that it’s easy to worry that you are never going to look as good as you once did.  But don’t allow the stress to cause this to be a self fulfilling prophecy.  If you have TE and remove the trigger and address the inflammation, you can likely eventually get your hair back.  Sure, it takes some time to regrow.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel.  You can read more about my experience and what helped me on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 10

Telogen Effluvium In The Back Only: Is It Possible?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who notice most of their hair loss on one area of their head or scalp.  Many believe or hope that they have telogen effluvium hair loss.  But, they do a little research and they find that this type of hair loss isn’t usually patterned or is limited to only one area of the scalp.  So they wonder if it’s possible that they still have telogen effluvium.  One example of this type of concern is seeing hair loss only noticeable in the back or crown.

Someone might express this concern: “I have been shedding hair for two months.  I recently went on a pretty restrictive diet, so I suspect that the change in my eating habits brought on telogen effluvium.  However, I examine my hair all of the time and the only place where I notice any thinning is in the crown of my head.  I know that this is an area of loss that is often seen when people have androgenetic alopecia.  So that is my worry – that because I am seeing patterned loss, I don’t have TE after all.  Is it possible to have something other than AGA when you have loss in only one area?”

I think that is is possible, although it is not completely common.  When I shed horrifically after my first child was born, initially all I saw was loss at my bangs.  I lost nearly all of my bangs so that all I had were baby hairs there. I took to wearing my hair swept back as a result.  However, as the shedding continued on for a longer period of time, I started to see a loss of volume all over my head. I think that it is possible that sometimes, we initially see loss only in areas that are sparse to begin with. The bangs and the crown are examples.  If you compare the amount of hair at those areas with the sides, you’ll see that the temple and crown are generally more sparse.  And consider this – your crown is where your part line meets the hair that is going straight down.  Therefore, any loss there is going to be more noticeable because the hair isn’t facing in the same way.  Many women report seeing the loss in crown so that the area where their part line meets their crown looks like an uppercase L back there. So instead of the part line just making  a straight line or an “I,” you see an “L” where the crown peeks through.

However, seeing the “L” doesn’t tell you what type of hair loss you might have.  And, it might be that in a short period of time, more diffuse loss will be noticeable.  I would also keep an eye on the regrowth at the crown or back to see if it is miniaturized because this is indicative of androgen-driven hair loss.  I know that it may be hard to examine the regrowth there, but have someone help you or pluck out one of the hairs so that you can examine it.

There was no mention of whether there were other indications of androgen issues – like hair that is more oily than normal or a shiny scalp.  I’m certainly not a doctor or specialist, but the absence of these things along with the trigger of the new diet are still pretty indicative of telogen effluvium.  But you will likely want to watch the situation more closely in the days to come to see if you notice any more diffuse loss or miniaturization.

I know that it’s easy to worry that you have lasting hair loss that might never grow back, but it doesn’t help to assume the worst.  Keep a close eye on it and know that sparser areas on your scalp will sometimes show the loss before other areas. Unfortunately, I know this from experience.  You can read more about my hair loss and hair growth journey on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 02

Will Styling My Hair Too Much (Or Too Hard) Make My Telogen Effluvium Worse?

By: Ava Alderman: It’s really a great irony. When your hair is shedding, you can become worried or paranoid about how it looks. You start to worry that your hair looks noticeably more thin and so you may have to style it more to add volume (just so you think that it looks normal.) You may have to also use more product and manipulate it more. And as a result, you might notice more hair falling out. This feels awful because to stop this, you’d have to stop caring so much about your hair and just accept it’s altered appearance.  And this is very hard to do.

Someone might say: “I will admit that I’ve always been a fan of styling products with my hair. I use mousse and gel at a minimum. I blow dry it upside down and then I curl the areas that don’t look quite as full. Now that my hair has been shedding horribly, I’ve added a new step to this. I’ve started teasing it at the roots also. I notice more hair coming out when I do this, but I feel compelled to do it. If I didn’t, my hair would be limp and without volume. I sometimes feel that I lose more hair the next day when I style it like this. Could I be making my telogen effluvium worse with over styling?”

This is only my opinion and I’m not an expert, but I think that the damage is more psychological than anything. Because the hair that comes out with styling is the hair that was already going to come out anyway. If your hair is in the growing phase, it is deeply embedded in your scalp and lots of styling isn’t going to bother it. But, when the hair is in the shedding phase, it’s no longer deeply embedded or being nourished. Because at some point in the near future, it’s going to be falling out anyway.

So, any little tug or manipulation can make those hairs in the shedding phase come out. No one wants to see this happen. And when you have a lot of hair coming out at once, you can start to think that maybe you shouldn’t manipulate your hair. But, the hair that came out with the manipulation was hair that was going to come out in the very near future anyway. Sure, you sped up the process a bit, but the loss of that hair was likely inevitable. (Now, I’m talking about regular styling. If you’re pulling your hair very hard, then that traction could pull out hairs in the growing phase. I’m talking about hair that comes out with normal, everyday styling.  There is a condition called traction alopecia that occurs when you pull on your hair or wear it in very tight braids or styles.)

For some people, knowing that they are causing even hair in the shedding phase to come out prematurely is hard to take. Sometimes, after you see your hair falling out day after day, it’s difficult to know that you had any hand in that process. I know that this was the case for me. Psychologically, I just felt better if I knew that I was handling my hair very carefully. I washed with gentle hands and I held my hair at my scalp when I brushed it, trying to avoid pulling any out. I began to dry my hair up in a towel. This gave it volume and allowed me avoid blow drying it. Of course, if I had a special occasion to attend and needed my hair to look nice, then I’d forget about my gentleness. But for every day, I was very careful, even though I knew that I wasn’t really saving anything.

Honestly, this depends on your preference.  If it doesn’t bother you to see the additional hair come out and the styling is very important to you, then there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you think your styling is so harsh that it’s pulling out hairs that aren’t already ready to fall out, then you may want to try being more gentle. For the most part, regular styling is only culling the hairs that were going to come out anyway.  But some people with hair shedding think that any shed hair is one too many.

Different people have different levels of tolerance for watching their hair fall out.  Because my loss was so severe in my own eyes and went on for so long, it got to the point where every hair felt important. You can read more about my experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jul 25

Should I Cut My Hair Because I My Hair Is Falling Out With Severe Shedding And Telogen Effluvium TE?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who are suffering from severe and rapid hair shedding. If you’ve never experienced this, you might not know just how problematic it can be. It’s as if the hair is raining down on you constantly and it seems as if you are constantly having to vacuum, clean up after the shedding, or go over things with a lint roller just to control the onslaught of hair. That’s why it’s common for people who are suffering from this to consider cutting their hair.

I heard from someone who said: “I have long hair but I believe that I’m going through a bout of telogen effluvium. The long hairs clog up my shower drain and get all wrapped up in the bar on my vacuum cleaner. Would it help things to cut my hair? Or would I end up regretting it?”

While I certainly can not see into the future, I myself have been in this situation a couple of times. In one instance, I cut my hair. And in the other, I kept it long and only trimmed it. So I believe that I have the perspective to share some questions that you might want to ask yourself, which I will do in the following article.

How Would Your Face Look With Short Hair?: This is a vital question that so many people do not ask. The truth is, I hear from many people who tell me that their hair ended up looking hideous while short and they were more unhappy with their short hair than they would have been with their long shedding hair. Some people have a face that looks very cute with short hair. I am not one of those people. To see how you might like with short hair, pull your hair back and take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror.

Know That If You Cut Your Hair, You Won’t Be Able To Put It Up To Get Some Relief: I have to admit that when my hair shedding was at it’s worst, I would often just put it up (very loosely as to not pull more out,) so that it wouldn’t fall all over me and get every where. This was usually a huge relief. Know that when you have shorter hair, this isn’t always possible, (although the shorter hairs falling are not as problematic.)

Shorter Hair Makes It More Difficult To Camouflage Any Very Thin Areas: Here’s another thing to consider. You can usually comb over your long hair to cover or camouflage any very short or even balding areas. But if you cut your hair very short, you no longer have this luxury.

Some Advantages To Cutting Your Hair When It Is Shedding Badly: Despite what I’ve written above, there are some advantages to cutting your hair, which I will list now:

Shorter Hair Isn’t As Problematic When It’s Shedding: You’re not as likely to clog the drain or have problems with the vacuum when you are shedding shorter hairs. If I were to hold 100 short hairs and 100 long hairs in both of my hands and asked you which hand held more hair, you’d most likely assume that the hand with the longer hair had more hairs even if this wasn’t the case. It’s easier to sweep up and dispose of the shorter hair and they don’t look as bad on your clothes after they have fallen as longer hairs.

Shorter Hair Can Look Thicker And Less Stringy: If you find the right blunt cut, a shorter cut can make it look as if you have more hair than you really do. And, longer hair that is thinning can look unhealthy and stringy.

Sometimes, You Have A Reprieve From Shedding Immediately Following A Hair Cut: When my hair was shedding, I would always notice a reprieve after I got a hair color or cut. This would only last for a couple of days, but I would always look forward to it. I think that the reason for this was that the stylist would pull and manipulate my hair in a way that I didn’t. In other words, when I washed or styled my hair, I was extremely gentle. But the stylist was not. So hairs that were ready to come out (and likely would shed out very soon) were likely pulled out when I was sitting in the stylist’s chair. So the hairs that were set to fall out within the next several days already had.

It’s Easier To Blend In The Regrowth With Shorter Hair: When my hair was long, you could definitely see a bunch of baby hair coming in.  When your hair is short, this isn’t as noticeable.

The Bottom Line: At the end of the day, this is a decision that only you can make. I regretted cutting my hair because I had worked for years to grow it. Yes, I did get some relief from all those long shed hairs when my hair was shorter, but I had to give up a ponytail and frankly, I just much prefer the way that I look with longer hair. However, this is an individual decision. I don’t feel that there’s really a right or wrong answer.  The question really is what is right for you.

As I said, my relief from short hair was short lived.  I got more relief when I was able to actually address the cause of my hair loss rather than trying to manage the volume of spent hairs. I know that this might be a difficult time for you, but it will often get better in time and there is plenty that you can do to cope and make your hair look as nice as possible while you are going through this. If it helps, you can read my story on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jul 25

Why Does It Take So Long For Hair To Regrow After Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman:  I often hear from people who are becoming extremely impatient while they are waiting for their hair to recover and regrow after they’ve suffered from telogen effluvium.  Often, they aren’t seeing progress nearly as quickly as they would like and they find this very discouraging.

I heard from someone who said “my hair started shedding about five months ago.  About six weeks ago, the amount of hair loss began to lessen.  I am still shedding much more than is normal for me, but it is much better than it was.  However, I am not noticing much regrowth.  My hair hasn’t even begun to look any better.  Sometimes, I see tiny regrowth hairs at my part line but they don’t seem to be growing all that much.  Why does it take so long to see some improvement?  I thought I would get some relief after the shedding let up, but I was obviously wrong.”

Believe me when I say that I understand your frustration.  I remember a time when I used to spray my hair with dry shampoo so that the white color would allow me to see (and measure) my regrowth.  So I know that you are probably looking for some progress every single day and that you sometimes feel disappointed.  I hope to offer you some encouragement (and some perspective) in the following article.

Understand That Even Normal, Healthy Regrowth Only Grows A Half Inch Per Month:

If you were to look at a half of an inch on a ruler, you’d see that it’s a very small amount.  Well, this is how much your hair regrows after an entire month.  So it’s entirely possible that only six weeks after you saw an improvement in shedding, you are still only seeing very short baby hairs growing in.  This is normal.  After another month, you will have added another half inch to the length of those hairs.  So as you can see, it takes more than a few months for the hair to get long enough to where it makes much of a difference or becomes noticeable.

And if you are a woman with long hair, it can take up to a year (or more if your hair is really long) before you are able to replace the length and volume of the strands that you lost.  I know that this is a long and frustrating process, but it doesn’t mean that you are behind or that you are doing anything wrong.  It’s just the way that the process works.

Additional Shedding Can Slow The Process Even More:

Sometimes, even when we see some improvement in our telogen effluvium, we continue to shed.  That’s why you will sometimes see short strands in your shower drain and on your clothing.  When this happens, obviously you are having to start all over, gaining only a half inch over the course of a month once the hair begins to grow in all over again.  So, know that if you are still losing more hair than what is usual for you, then you may also be losing some of your regrowth which can slow this process a little more.

Make Sure That You Are Supporting A Healthy Scalp And Paying Attention To Nutrition: 

Admittedly, this is a process that you can’t necessarily completely change.  But there are some things that you can do to make sure that your body and your scalp have what they need to support healthy regrowth.  Make sure that you aren’t doing anything that can create additional trigger that might bring on more shedding.  Also, make sure that you aren’t on any severe diets.  Ensure that your nutritional needs are met because if your body doesn’t get proper nutrition, the first place that you will see this is in your hair. Also, take very good care of your scalp.  You want to combat any inflammation that might impede your regrowth.  (And inflammation is common after periods of high shedding.)

People often ask me if there is any supplements they can take to make their hair grow more quickly or thickly.  It’s my experience that some of these products actually caused more hair loss in my case.  I found that for me, I could tolerate a general daily supplement for women, but I could not tolerate anything that had very high amounts of any ingredients.  That is only my experience but I don’t think that it is one that is uncommon.  I find that just making sure that you have good nutrition and the healthiest scalp possible is usually the best thing that you can do.  Because sometimes when you become too aggressive, you do more harm than good and you bring on a new trigger.

I found that focusing on caring for my hair’s health without focusing on its daily progress helped me.  I just decided to make my hair as shiny, voluminous, and as healthy as possible.  And I think that in the process, I was also able to support healthy regrowth.  I look back on those days with gratitude that they are over.  But I wish I hadn’t worried as much as I did because I think this made it worse.  If it helps, you can read my story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jul 20

I’m Finally Seeing Less Hair In The Drain With Telogen Effluvium. Is This A Good Sign?

By: Ava Alderman: Much of the correspondence that I get about hair loss is from people who are upset. They worry that they are losing so much hair that it can’t be normal. They fear that at this rate, they are going to be bald. Sometimes though, I get upbeat correspondence from people who are finally seeing an improvement in their hair loss. Many just want to share the good news or they want encouragement that what they are seeing is a positive sign that is cause for celebration.

Someone might say: “for months, I’ve seen so much hair in my shower drain that I honestly thought I might clog it. Things got the point where I hated to even look in my drain, much less fish all that hair out of it. Not only was it disgusting, but I would be anxious and worried the rest of the day, thinking about all that hair. For the last several days, I have seen much less hair in the drain. I’m hoping that this means that I am reaching the end of my telogen effluvium. Is this accurate? Will I just see less and less hair in the drain so that one day, I’m not seeing any at all?”

It’s my experience that people can see different presentations when they reach the end of telogen effluvium. Some people will tell you that they just woke up one day to absolutely normal hair loss and that they didn’t have another incident of shedding afterwards. They will describe this as very abrupt, almost with no warning at all. Others will tell you that every day, they saw less and less hair fall until they could be confident that they were finally at normal levels again.

For me, I sort of had stops and starts. I started to notice that I wasn’t seeing awful shedding every single day. I would notice a gradual improvement. And then I would have a couple of days of an alarming shed again which would make me all discouraged once again. But then a couple or days or weeks later, I’d see improvement again. It was sort of a roller coaster ride until it leveled out to normal.

I have also heard of people who felt sure that their telogen effluvium was over because they had weeks of normal shedding but then another trigger presented itself and they had to start over. So while I do agree with you that this is a wonderful sign (and could very well signal the end of your telogen effluvium) I would encourage you to not introduce any new regimens or things that might bring about a new trigger. Eat normally and healthily. Keep your stress levels down. Do what is necessary for optimal health. And stay away from anything that you know to be a trigger for you.

My recovery was hard fought.  It took much longer than I ever anticipated.  But it felt so wonderful when it finally happened. If it helps, you can read more about my experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jul 12

Are Haircuts Bad For Telogen Effluvium Or Shedding Hair?

By: Ava Alderman:  Having your hair cut, colored, or permed can be a huge decision when you have telogen effluvium.  Often, we know that these things may theoretically make our hair look better for the long term.  But we worry about them making things worse for the short term.  And the reason for this is that the styling process can be hard on your hair and can seem to contribute to more of it falling out.  This can lead to the thought process that, while your hair is actually shedding, these types of things can be bad for your hair.

Someone might say: “my hair has been falling out for seven weeks.  It is awful.  It feels like I have lost half of the volume of my hair.  I have a layered hair cut and it needs to be cut again.  My mom said that I should grow it out because cutting it at this point would be bad and would cause more of it to fall out.  Is she right?”

It’s true that when you cut, color, or perm your hair, you might notice a lot of it coming out during and after the process.  It can feel as if you have made a mistake.  And there’s no question that it is psychologically hard. But what you have to realize is that the hairs that came out through nothing more than manipulation were in the shedding phase.  They were going to come out in the days to come anyway.  You just sped up the process.

Think about it this way.  We’ve all had to wear our hair in an up-do where we had to twist, turn, and pull on it the hair to tame it into submission.  If we did this when our hair was in a “normal” phase and not shedding during telogen effluvium, we may have pulled one or two hairs out during this process.  But it wouldn’t have been anything earth shattering.  The point is, hairs that are actively in the growing phase don’t really fall out when you tug on them.  You actually have to pull quite hard and deliberately to get them to come out.  It’s only hairs that are shedding that are going to come out with manipulation.  Which means that you haven’t really lost anything by cutting and styling, even though it can feel this way.

There is a question as to whether or not shorter hair can look better when it is thinning.  This is individual.  It really depends on the face shape and hair texture of the person. I do think that trimmed, neat hair generally looks better than hair that most obviously needs a cut.  No one likes split ends or hair that isn’t healthy.

But I personally found that my hair looked more thin when it was short.  I also found that a blunt bob made it look the fullest and the best.  You will have to experiment to see what works for you.  But no, cutting your hair isn’t bad for it.  Keeping up with trimming actually ensures healthier and better looking hair. Nothing says you have to go for a drastic cut.  And you can certainly tell your stylist to be gentle.  But hair that is regularly maintained tends to look healthier and fuller, in my own experience.

And I found that although I would see more shedding during and right after the cut, I would see LESS in the days and weeks to come as the manipulation pretty much pulled out days and days worth of shed.  So while it might be traumatic on the day of the cut and right after, it should even out over time.

I know that it is hard.  And I would be lying if I claimed that I didn’t alter my styling regimen when my hair was shedding.  I did.  But I also came to believe that regular trims can help your hair look more healthy and full.  You can read about the things that helped me when I was shedding on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jul 10

Why Am I Shedding Short Hairs With Telogen Effluvium (TE)?

By: Ava Alderman?  I often hear from people who can’t help but examine the hairs that they are shedding when they believe that they have telogen effluvium (which is commonly referred to as TE.)  Not only do many people count the hairs, but many look very closely at the length and also at the ends to see if they have any bulbs or markings.  They often have questions about what they are saying. I heard from someone who said: “I’ve been noticing that lately, most of the hairs that I am shedding are very short.  Much have blunt ends.  Why could this be happening?  Does this mean the hair that I am regrowing can’t be maintained?”  I will try to answer these questions in the following article.

Shedding Short Hairs Can Mean That You’re Still Cycling Through Different Hair Cycles Of Growth And Regrowth: Many people assume that once their TE is ending or is over, they will just pick up with normal hair cycles and are able to resume their previously healthy hair schedule.  Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.  Some people go through a few cycles until their hair growth cycles resume to “normal.”  What this means is that your hair is still shedding while you are also regrowing.  Your body or scalp doesn’t distinguish between long or shot hair.  It just continues to shed. And if you’ve gone through TE, you will often have a good deal of short hair growing in.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your regrowth will never take hold.  Sometimes, it just takes a few more cycles. Or, the trigger that started the shedding in the first place needs to be eliminated.  Ask yourself where you are in the shedding.  Has it been only a few weeks?  A few months?  Shedding short hairs is more common in chronic telogen effluvium (shedding that lasts for six months or longer) because it takes a few months before you start to see regrowth and a few more for it to obtain some length.  So by the time you see short hairs falling out, more than a few months from the beginning of this process has likely passed. If it’s been more than several months, then it might be time to see if something else is at play.

The Possibility Of Continuing Triggers Or Androgenetic Alopecia: Sometimes, the shedding just continues to go on and you’ve seen several cycles of short hairs continuing to fall out.  At that point, if you’re still confident that you’re looking at telogen effluvium, you may want to look the possibility of continuing or multiple triggers.  Sometimes, what caused the original shedding is over but something else has triggered a new one.  Or, other times there is a continuing trigger like a medical issue or a medication that doesn’t agree with you.

The last thing to consider is that you might be looking at androgen driven loss.  It is possible for the loss to start off as telogen effluvium and then turn into something else like androgentic alopecia (which is often referred to AGA.)  It’s not unheard of for androgenetic alopecia to be thought to be telogen effluvium initially.  And, shedding short hairs with AGA is common because people with this condition have a hard time supporting healthy regrowth.  It can help to look at the quality of the shed hairs.  Are they miniaturized? (This means do they look thin and whisky, like peach fuzz.)

The good news is that either of these cases can be addressed by supporting healthy regrowth, minimizing inflammation, and addressing any androgens.  But to answer the question posed, it can be normal to shed short hairs with telogen effluvium.  But if the hairs are miniaturized or if this process goes on for too long, you might want to see if there is something else at play that can be addressed.

I panicked when I saw a bunch of short hairs coming out.  I assumed that this meant that I had androgenic alopecia. Looking back now, I still believe that I had chronic telogen effluvium. I suspect this because over time, the loss of short hairs improved dramatically. Once I addressed my triggers, I started seeing normal length hair growing in again. But, it was a long, hard, frustrating journey, especially in the beginning. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jun 29

How Often Should I Wash My Hair With Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman: If you are suffering from severe hair shedding, then you probably know that washing your hair can become a traumatic event. This may sound silly or overly dramatic to people who haven’t been through this. But for those of us who know the reality of having hair all over our clothes and floor, we know that it is no dramatization to say that it can almost seem as if you are losing huge, alarming amounts of hair every time that you wash it.

Understandably then, many of us consider washing it less. We aren’t always happy about this since some of us have additional itching when we’re shedding. But we figure if we can forego a wash or two and save ourselves a lot of spent hairs, then perhaps all of this would be worth it. It’s not uncommon for me to hear comments like: “I used to wash my hair every day. But now that I have telogen effluvium and am shedding, it’s psychologically difficult for me to shed my hair. The drain is nearly clogged with my hair. I have read that you really don’t need to wash your hair that much. In fact, I’ve read some celebrities wash their hair about once per week. Would washing less help me? How often should you be washing your hair with telogen effluvium?”

I’m not a doctor or hair specialist, but I do have an opinion on this based on my own experience and research. I completely understand this. Because when I was shedding, I experimented with washing my hair less. Here is what I found, although I would encourage you to see for yourself. Not washing as often didn’t really save me any hairs, I don’t think. Because what happened is that I just shed so much more on the days that I did wash. So I believe that the average number of hairs per day were probably about the same or maybe even a little more.

Not only that, but my hair itched, my scalp burned, and the overall experience was more painful. I was using an anti-inflammatory shampoo at that time and I believe that going days without this benefit wasn’t helpful to my hair, my scalp, or to me. Also, if your hair loss is in any way due to inflammation or a response to androgens, not washing your hair can make these responses more intense, which can lead to more shedding. Plus, your hair tends to take on a bad texture when its shedding and it can be limp and look oily. Not washing your hair can make the appearance of your hair a little worse, and this can be psychologically damaging as well.

So my answer to the question would be that, to the extent that you are able, I would keep up the hair washing regimen that worked for you before the shedding. If this is too difficult, maybe you could add one additional non-washing day without a huge surge in inflammation or oiliness. When my shedding was at its worst, I would wash with regular shampoo one day and dry shampoo the next. But I would not go for so long that you risk your follicles being affected by debris.

Instead, I would try to wash my hair as gently as I could. But I would also understand that if my hair is in the resting or shedding phase, not washing it isn’t going to save it. Hair that has switched phases is going to fall out at some point soon anyway. And this is true whether you are washing it or not.

One thing that helped me with this process was to allow my hair to mostly dry in a towel.  This kept me from seeing the fall out and helped psychologically.  Also, my hair didn’t pull out as much if I styled it when it was mostly dry. If it helps, you can read more about my experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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