Jan 18

Telegen Effluvium Vs (Versus) Androgenetic Alopecia: Which Is Worse To Have?

By: Ava Alderman:  I hear from a lot of folks who are trying to determine what type of hair loss they have.  Understandably, figuring this out is of great concern to them because there are different treatments and outcomes for specific types of hair loss.

The most two common types that are of concern are telogen effluvium (TE) and androgenetic alopecia (AGA.)  These can present somewhat similarly.  With both, you notice more hair shedding out. And over time, you can notice thinning with each.  People often ask me which type is worse.

Someone might say: “I always thought that I would prefer to have telogen effluvium over androgenetic alopecia.  My brother has AGA and I’ve watched my sister go through TE after she had a baby.  Well, now I’ve started having severe shedding after I started a new medication.  I believe that this is probably telogen effluvium.  It’s so bad that I sometimes feel like I am going bald.  There is literally hair every where.  And every day, I start over and I go through the very same thing. I know that technically, TE should eventually end.  And I guess there is some comfort in that, but it is hard to remember it when my hair seems to be coming out in handfuls.  Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but that’s how it feels sometimes.  In contrast, my brother who has AGA has only moderate shedding.  It really doesn’t seem to bother him too much.  I saw him combing his hair, and it wasn’t like my situation where it just rains hair from the brush.  I told my brother this and he had that although he could see my point, at least with TE, it should one day end.  I see what he’s saying, but this constant raining hair is awful.  So which is worse?”

It Can Be A Matter Of Perspective: Well, certainly the one that you have at the time can seem to be the worst. I’ve had two bouts of TE (one was a very lengthy case of CTE) and I’ve also had some lingering miniaturization as a result (which has resolved.)  At the time though, it did feel like the beginning of AGA.  All of these instances were very upsetting.  As I was going through them, they ALL felt like the worst.  When you’re right in the middle of TE, it does feel like it’s never going to end. And there are times when you can’t bear to take it another day and you fear that you’ll go bald.  You tell yourself that at least with AGA, it would be gradual and just a little bit at a time.

However, people would argue that at least with TE, there is hope.  Theoretically, barring any additional complications, it will one day end and you will have regular hair again.  With AGA, this is a hereditary condition that can be ongoing and can get worse with time.  However, AGA can be treated, and the outcome can be good – especially if you treat it early.  I know people who have AGA and I only know it because they have told me, but I would not have known it to look at them.  So having AGA does not mean that you will bald – or even have hair that looks thin – assuming that you have an effective treatment plan.

And even CTE DOES end one day, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. So with each condition, it isn’t all good or all bad.  Most people would prefer to have TE because as dreadful as it is, if you can get through that period of time, there is a light at the end of the tunnel (although some people do suffer through multiple bouts of TE through their lives.) However, people with AGA can find light at the end of the tunnel also with proper treatment.  And there are things that you can do to support yourself and make your hair look presentable with either condition.  The bottom line is that whichever condition you have, you can often make it better and you can usually make it tolerable.

I know that this is no fun either way. As I said, I’ve had aspects of both type of hair loss.  Along the way, I learned some tricks and tips that helped.  You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jan 16

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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Jan 13

Does Hair Miniaturization Always Mean Androgenic Alopecia (AGA)?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who can no longer deny that they are seeing miniaturized hairs when they look in the mirror or when they inspect their brush or shower grain. What I mean by this is that they are noticing that some hair on their scalp is much more thin in texture than the rest. Sometimes, miniaturized hair like this is refereed to as “peach fuzz” or “baby fine hair.”

Often, you see miniaturized hairs in high androgen areas on the scalp like on the top of your head, at the temples, and at the crown. Women in particular can get miniaturization in the bang area also. Many people panic when they see miniaturized hairs because they worry that this means that they have AGA (androgenic alopecia, which is often described as male patterned baldness.) Since androgenic alopecia is considered by many to be a long term problem rather than a short term issue (like seasonal shedding or telogen effluvium,) most people become very upset when they realize that they are seeing miniaturized hairs.

I heard from someone who asked: “does miniaturized hairs always mean that you have androgenic alopecia or AGA? When my hair loss started, my dermatologist said that telogen effluvium was the most likely diagnosis because I had gone off of my birth control pills. However, it has now been eight months of shedding with no signs of improvement and now I am seeing miniaturization. My dermatologist says this is indicative of AGA. This was not what I wanted to hear and part of me doubts this. Because I don’t have any hereditary baldness in my family.” I will try to address these concerns as best as I can in the following article.  However, I am certainly not a doctor or specialist and I highly recommend addressing any remaining questions to your health care provider.

Miniaturization Can Be Indicative Of AGA, But There Are Other Conditions That Can Cause Hair To Be Miniaturized: In the above case, there were indicators that could be indicative of androgenic alopecia or telogen effluvium. Going off of birth control pills is a common trigger for TE. However, birth control pills can also act as an anti androgen and going off of them can sometimes give rise to androgenic alopecia that was going to present itself at some point in the the future.

With that said, although AGA is the most common reason that you will see miniaturization, it is not the only reason. Many people report seeing at least some or small amounts of finer textured hairs with chronic telogen effluvium, as was the case with me. I’ve also heard of miniaturization occurring with some autoimmune hair loss.

So to answer the question posed, it’s my opinion that miniaturization does not always mean androgenic alopecia, although many will jump to this conclusion because AGA is the most common reason that you will see these baby fine hairs.

And it is important to remember that in all of the above scenarios, this condition can be reversed.  Many people assume that peach fuzz can never become normal hair again, but I disagree with this assumption.  That’s not to say it’s an easy process.  In order to grow regular diameter hairs again,  you must either remove the trigger (in the cases of CTE and autoimmune hair loss) or protect the follicle from the androgens (as with AGA.) And sometimes, you must do both.

I panicked when I saw the hair at my temples becoming miniaturized.  I was sure 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 temple area improved dramatically.   And I didn’t see any other areas that were affected.  Once I addressed my CTE,  I started seeing normal textured 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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Jan 06

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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Jan 03

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Hair Loss Due To Smoking?

By: Ava Alderman:  Experts have long cautioned us that smoking is extremely bad for our health.  It leads to all sorts of health issues – with cancer being the most serious.  Lately though, experts have begun to appeal to a smoker’s sense of vanity.  To that end, they have released various studies and promotions meant to educate the public about how smoking can affect the smoker’s appearance.  One way that smoking does that is that it prematurely ages a person.  This includes wrinkled, sagging, and thinning skin.  It also includes hair loss.  Frankly, hair loss can be as big a concern for a smoker as health-related diseases.  I’ve known more than one smoker who has cited hair loss as the stimulus that finally got them to quit smoking.  One big concern that they have is how long until they are going to see improvement in the appearance of their hair.

They might ask something like: “I look back and I still can’t believe that I started smoking.   This is one of my all-time greatest disappointments in myself.  I considered giving it up many times.  I even tried to give it, but it was incredibly hard.  And honestly, I used smoking as a stress reliever, so I am not sure that I really wanted to completely quit.  And then one day I looked in the mirror and things started to change.  I noticed that my hair was thinning.  I do not have genetic hair loss in my family, but honestly that is what my hair looked like – someone with hereditary hair loss.  Although I did notice more hair in the drain, I think that even the hair that was managing to stay on my head was just thinning and overall sickly looking. So I tried to take the easier route.  I cut back on my smoking, but I did not quit – not yet anyway.  And I started to take a lot of vitamins to make sure that I was nourishing my hair.  I saw no improvement even though I monitored my hair regularly.  It just got worse and worse and I started to feel pretty badly about myself.   So one day, I decided to quit.  And I am very proud to say that I have stuck with it this time.  But I’m wondering when I’m going to start to recover in terms of my hair?  Because every day, it just looks worse and worse.  I don’t regret quitting and I won’t smoke again no matter what.  But I would sure like to see my hair look semi-normal again.  How long am I looking at?”

That’s tough to predict, but you may at least have a better idea of a time line once you understand how smoking contributes to hair loss and also what it takes to get a healthy scalp in order to encourage healthy regrowth again.

Some Theories As To Why Smoking Causes Hair Loss:  Scientists aren’t completely sure as to why smoking contributes to hair loss, but there is no question that it does.  A 2007 study of Taiwanese smokers showed a direct correlation between smoking and hair loss / thinning.    Many believe that smoking contributes to a loss of blood flow and nourishment to the scalp.  Others believe that smoking negatively affects the follicles themselves.  Still others believe that smoking causes stress to the body and therefore causes an inflammatory response.  One more theory is that since smoking ages your body, then you’re basically getting the hair of your older self.

Whatever theory you subscribe to, there no question that stopping smoking will immediately remove that trigger, which is a good thing all the way around.  What isn’t as clear is when recovery is going to take place.  If the hair loss was caused by stress to the body or an inflammatory response, then I would think that this recovery would not take too long because both of these things are reversible once you are smoke-free.

However, if your follicles were negatively affected and were miniaturized or you are suffering from a lack of blood flow, those things can take a longer period of time to correct.  Follicles that have been negatively affected have usually become significantly smaller in diameter and therefore have trouble sufficiently nourishing the hair.  There are treatments meant to reverse follicle miniaturization and there are ways to encourage blood flow back to the scalp.

These things may not happen immediately.  But they should happen if you are proactive about them.  Never doubt that quitting smoking was the right thing to do.  It was.  Once your follicles are getting nourished again and are of normal diameter, hair regrowth comes at about a half inch per month.  So if you started out with long hair, then you have to be patient in order to replace everything that was lost.

I had a trigger that was not smoking, but it caused hair loss nonetheless.  And I still had to manage an inflammatory response and a bit of miniaturization.  You can read about some things that helped me on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Dec 07

How To Regrow The Lost Hair Due To Telogen Effluvium

By: Ava Alderman:  I often hear from folks who have spent weeks or even months shedding alarming amounts of hair.  Some suspect that they are in the home stretch because they notice that the shedding has gotten somewhat better. And others hope to see improvement very soon.

Regardless of where you are in the process, there may come a time when you look in the mirror, take stock, and have to admit that you have lost a good deal of hair and therefore, have also lost volume.  As a result, your hair and overall appearance may look a little different than before (although it is rarely as bad as we tend to think.)  And of course, you want to know what you can do to grow your hair back after telogen effluvium.  I have been there (twice.)  And so below I’ll offer some tips that helped me the second time around (which I wish I’d known the first time around.)

Understand That Your Hair (And Follicles) Might Not Be Damaged:  It’s very important to know if you have true TE or if you have something else.  If you have a very obvious trigger (like giving birth or having surgery,) this knowledge can be easy.  But sometimes, it’s not so obvious.  Some of us have to determine if we are having androgenetic or inflammatory driven hair loss.

If you aren’t and what you have is true telogen effluvium, your hair and scalp should not be damaged by this process.  Once the shed cycle resets itself and the hair loss is over, your body (and hair) should heal on its own.  I mention this because I know for myself, I panicked and started taking supplements that changed my hormones.  Plus I used harsh chemicals on my scalp that actually caused inflammation that caused more shedding.  (These two things just prolonged my shedding rather than helping it.) If you have true TE, you should not need to take anything that may affect your hormones and cause more shedding. Give your body a chance to heal on its own. If it doesn’t and you see signs of inflammation or androgen activity, then of course you want to act.  But if you do not, then you really want to avoid things that will be harmful instead of helpful. A multi-vitamin is sometimes warranted, but you don’t need to go overboard.

Eat Enough Calories And Get Enough Carbs: I don’t think that people realize that if you are not taking in enough calories, your body will sort of shut off your hair function because it isn’t necessary.  If you don’t give your body enough fuel, it really has no choice but to cut off the nonessentials.  I hear from so many people whose telogen effluvium is kicked off by dieting.  Your body needs not only enough fuel, but also enough carbs.  High protein diets very commonly cause hair loss – so do other diets that restrict, limit, or completely cut out certain categories of food.  When you are regrowing hair, you want to have a very varied and healthy diet.  Now is the time to not worry about your weight and to give your body what it needs.

Address Any Inflammation Or Miniaturization: The above description is what we all long for – a scalp that emerges from TE relatively unscathed.  But if the shedding goes on particularly long or is particularly aggressive, you may end up with inflammation or even regrowth that is miniaturized.  The inflammation can be handled with anti – inflammatory shampoos and other topicals that you probably already have in your kitchen.  Miniaturization can be knocked back by encouraging blood flow to the scalp while addressing the androgens.  I used a widely prescribed regrowth product and it turned my scalp beet red and caused more shedding.  I read that this would improve as my scalp got used to it, but in my case, it just got worse.  I think it caused additional inflammation, which is why I think that for some, gentle and natural ways work better – or are at least worth a try in the beginning.

It’s important not to panic and to have faith that your body is designed to heal itself.  Sometimes, you really have to do nothing other than to support a healthy body and scalp. Other times, you may have a little inflammation or miniaturization which needs to be addressed, but both things are treatable, especially if you notice them early on.  You’re welcome to read about how I moved on and healed from two very severe bouts of TE on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Dec 06

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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Nov 23

I’m Not Seeing Any Regrowth After My Telogen Effluvium. Why?

By Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who are extremely discouraged that they aren’t seeing much hair regrowth after shedding has affected the appearance of their hair.

Common comments are things like: “I am pretty sure that I have telogen effluvium. I gave birth about six months ago and a couple of months after that, my hair started falling out. I have been shedding for about three months. My hair has gotten very thin as a result. I keep looking for regrowth but I am not seeing any. Does this mean that I don’t have telogen effluvium? Or that my hair isn’t going to grow back normally? When will I start seeing my hair growing back?”

Before I answer, I have to tell you that I am not a specialist or medical professional. The opinions that I’m going to share are based on my own experience with this type of hair loss. I have to say that what this woman was describing did sound like telogen effluvium, mostly because childbirth is a very common trigger. Also, when you are pregnant, the increased hormones give you a wonderful, thick head of hair where sometimes you end up with more hair than started with. As a result, post pregnancy telogen effluvium can be particularly bad with an awful lot of hair loss.

When a certain percentage of your hair goes into the shedding phase and you have started with more hair than usual, then your shedding can be a bit worse than what would typically be expected. But, with this type of hair loss, the follicles aren’t being affected by androgens so you should be able to regrow normal hair. And, once a strand of hair is shed out, it begins to grow back immediately. Many people assume that the regrowth is going to come all at once. Generally speaking, it doesn’t. It comes back at the rate that it fell out. So the hairs that shed out early on in the process are going to grow back first.

You should have stands of hair constantly coming in as they were constantly falling out. Now, the reason that you may not be seeing regrowth is that those hairs are thin and tiny. It takes the hair an entire month to grow a half inch. And hair that short in length and fine in diameter can be very hard to see coming in. You can help this process by doing a couple of things. Try pulling your regular strands straight back. Then see if there are any tiny, baby hairs sticking straight up. If your hair is dark colored, try spraying some dry shampoo or pouring some white powder in at your part line.  This will allow you to see those white small hairs coming through.

Also, you can lift up your bangs, pull them straight back, and then see if there is regrowth pushing forward. So what happens if you try all of those things and you are still coming up short? I would say to give it a bit of time. Perhaps your hair grows a little more slowly. If this doesn’t work, then you might want to consider that your follicles are being affected by inflammation or androgens. Or, perhaps you have another type of hair loss. But this scenario did sound like telogen effluvium and she wasn’t seeing any patterned or patchy loss, which was a good sign.

I will admit that I used a lot of dry shampoo to see my regrowth.  I began kind of obsessed about it for a while.  Try not to worry too much.  If you have light colored hair, it can be challenging to see the regrowth, especially at first.  If it helps, you can read about my gradual recovery on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/.

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Nov 21

Can Stress Cause Hair Miniaturization?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who are horrified to notice that not only has their hair been shedding, but it is now starting to become miniaturized and thin. If you have found this article, you probably already know that when hair miniaturizes, it becomes thin, fly away, and it may even be lighter-colored.  Because of these changes to the hair, places on your scalp that are growing miniaturized hair may present as thinning areas or as bald spots.

No one wants this, so naturally people begin to research the cause.  Because hopefully, if you can understand the cause, then you can take action to prevent or treat it.  One concern that people sometimes have is that of stress.  It’s normal to feel some psychological distress when you see these types of changes in your hair.  And you can start to wonder if this may be the cause of the miniaturization.

Someone might ask: “I honestly am not sure why I am seeing hair miniaturization.  I am a woman.  I don’t have any one in my family who is balding or thinning.  But there is no denying that certain areas are definitely thinning.  And when I isolate those hairs and look at them closely, they are pathetically sickly-looking.  They are clearly miniaturized.  I have no idea what could be causing this. The only thing that I can identify is severe stress.  I’ve been having a difficult time at work and it is relentless.  So I stress out about that, but I also stress out about my hair.  It’s so hard to watch it fall out and transform into old-man hair and yet I don’t feel that I have any control. I am a still young. Could the stress be causing the miniaturization?”

The Most Common Causes Of Hair Miniaturization: I’m not a doctor, but from my own experience, I can tell you that many doctors believe that what causes hair miniaturization is androgenetic alopecia.  And what causes that condition are things like genetics, aging, and a sensitivity to DHT (dihydrotestosterone.)  Since it appears that you don’t have genetics or aging as issues, you may have a sensitivity to DHT.  And yes, women produce this hormone.

Since I mentioned DHT, I have also found in some of my research that stress can cause a rise in cortisol.  And a rise in cortisol can also contribute to a rise in DHT.  Again, I am not a doctor.  But it would make sense that a rise in DHT would increase the sensitivity and potentially give way to androgenetic alopecia or the symptoms associated with it.  I am just a lay person, but this makes sense to me.

So that is one way that stress might affect your hair loss.  Another way is that severe stress is thought the contribute to telogen effluvium.  I am not sure if you’re been shedding a very large number of hairs.  But if so, that could be one indication of telogen effluvium.  And prolonged shedding because of telogen effluvium can sometimes cause miniaturization.

So in my non-professional opinion, yes, there are cases where stress can contribute to a rise in DHT or it can be a contributing factor to telogen effluvium, which in some severe cases can lead to miniaturization.

Regardless, it makes sense to get serious about reducing your stress.  It’s not good for your health, your well being, or your hair.  Of course, most of us have no control over what happens in our jobs.  But what we can do is learn to manage your stress.  We can learn to decompress.  We can try meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and all of those other things that give us some relief.  We can tell ourselves that at the end of the day, very few things will matter five years from now.  If something won’t truly impact your life greatly in five years, it is best just to let it go.

I know how stressful losing your hair is.  This turned my life upside down for a while.  So I totally sympathize.  But allowing myself to get upset did me no good. I sometimes had to force myself to focus my attention elsewhere.  Once my hair loss stabilized, I could look back and see that all that time I spent being upset really didn’t serve any purpose but to make things worse.  Looking back, I have come to believe that you want to control what you can.  You want to pursue treatments and research causes.  You certainly want to educate yourself.  But you don’t want to place your sole focus on something that may well resolve.  You don’t’want to let it take over your life.  You can read more about learning to deal with this on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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