Sep 20

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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Sep 15

How Can I Tell If I Have AGA Or TE?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who are really anxious to know if they have telogen effluvium (TE) or androgenic alopecia (AGA.)  One reason that this is important is that sometimes, TE resolves on its own, while AGA needs treatment in order to get a good result.  So, most people strongly hope that they have shedding that will resolve rather than hair loss which is likely permanent with out treatment.  This distinction can be difficult to make because both of these conditions have hair loss as the main symptom.  However, there are some distinctions worth noting which can lead to some questions worth asking yourself, which I will discuss below.

Do You Have A Trigger That Started The Whole Thing?:  Often, when you have TE, there will be a trigger that you can pretty easily pinpoint.  Anything that causes your body to store it’s reserves due to stress can be a trigger.  Common examples are starting or starting new medicines, severe dieting, physical illness, giving birth, or even using new styling products.  Keep in mind that the trigger should have occurred around 2 -3 months before the shedding started, so you may have to think back into the past.  But typically, if you have shedding that will resolve, you can look back examine your life style or your habits and figure out what started this whole process.

Is Your Longer Regrowth Miniaturized?:  Miniaturized hair is often noticeable when you have AGA.  You may notice that your regrowth is coming in quite thin and has a flyaway or peach fuzz texture.  Now, with this said, it can be common for all regrowth to be a little bit thin when it begins to grow.  So if your regrowth is still less than a couple of inches long, this probably isn’t the best sample to choose.  Instead, I advise examining one of your mature spent hairs (that has already shed out) and then identifying a regrowth hair that has clearly been around for a couple of months.  If you compare the texture of the two hairs, they should be somewhat similar.  But if you notice that the new hair is significantly more thin and texture, then this is something you may want to keep an eye on.  Although I have heard of cases of miniaturization with chronic cases of telogen effluvium, it is more common with AGA.

Do You See Any Indications Of Excess Androgens?:  People with AGA will often have other symptoms like an oily, itchy scalp, or even facial skin that is a bit shiny due to the excess oils.  Also, if you look at your scalp under bright lights try to take notice as to whether you see a sheen at the follicles which would be indicate or excess oils which is sometimes indicative of an androgen issue.  This isn’t to say that people with an effluvium don’t also have issues with their scalp or skin, but it is more likely with AGA.  And often, people will androgen driven loss have also dealt with excess oil on other areas of their body.

The Bottom Line:  Sometimes, it comes down to whether you want to wait to see if the loss resolves on its own or if you want to have a specialists look at it.  It can be a challenge to find someone who will take you seriously and who is willing to actually test rather than just make assumptions and to offer reassurances that are hard to take when you are still shedding.  But it is worth it to keep looking until you find some relief because I know how difficult this process is.

I know because I went through this myself.  There was a time when I was convinced that I had lasting, permanent hair loss that would never end.  But I kept going back to my triggers and knowing that I was missing something somewhere. After this, I started seeing an improvement. 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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Sep 13

How Do I Tell If My Telogen Effluvium Is Gradually Getting Better And It’s Not Just Wishful Thinking?

By: Ava Alderman:  There is no question that when you are shedding or losing hair, you want to believe that it is getting better.  (I think that is one reason why counting hairs can be so common.)  You want some quantitative way to be able to tell when it is actually improving.

However, if you have ever counted hairs, then you probably already know that this practice invokes a lot of anxiety.  It makes you worry about something that you can’t always control. And it sometimes makes you think that you aren’t making progress when you absolutely could be.  Honestly, most people can eyeball what comes out of the drain and ascertain if the amount is less than yesterday without needing to count the exact number of hairs.  In case it’s not already clear, I absolutely suggest that you DON’T count your hairs.  I know that it is tempting because I used to do it.  And that’s how I can tell you that it causes more problems than it solves.  It creates stress at a time when you absolutely do not need it.

So how do you know if you are improving if you don’t count hairs or take close inventory everyday?  Well, here are some things that you might look for.

Your Hair Becomes Shiny And Manageable Again:  When you are suffering from telogen effluvium, massive shedding, or even androgenetic alopecia, you will often find that your hair looks lifeless, may tangle, and may just be flat.  Part of the reason for this can be that the hair has switched out of the growing phase or the follicle has become smaller so that the hair is no longer being properly nourished.   However, once the follicles improve or the hair switches back to the growing phase (or both) then you should see the hair look more healthy again.

For The Most Part And Over All, You See Less Hair Falling Out:  It would be wonderful to think that your hair loss is going to gradually subside and then be nothing at all.  This isn’t always the reality, though.  Sometimes, you see a little improvement and then the shedding starts back up.  And then the process repeats before the improvement becomes more apparent.  The point is, recovery does not always come in a straight line.  But over all, you should generally be able to say that for the most part, the loss is not as bad as it once was.

Your Regrowth Looks Robust And Relatively / Increasingly Plentiful:  With most types of hair loss, hair that falls out is going to eventually regrow.  Now, the regrowth can be hard to spot at first.  It can even begin it’s growth looking a little thin.  But as time goes on, you should see dark, robust, and normal looking hair coming in.  If you don’t, then you want to take a look and evaluate for androgens, miniaturization, or inflammation – all of which can be treated.

I hope that this article has shown you that you don’t need to count your hairs in order to track your progress.  For the most part, you just need to have some awareness, but you don’t need to be obsessed or allow this to take over your life.  (Like I did for a while.) I know that’s easier said than done because I’ve been through this myself.  But sometimes, this hair loss thing needlessly causes a lot of stress at a time when we certainly don’t need it.  You can read more about my hair loss and recovery my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com

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Aug 31

Meditation For Telogen Effluvium, Shedding, And Hair Loss

By: Ava Alderman:  There is no question that when you believe that you are losing your hair, it is stressful.  Even if you only have shedding that is supposed to be temporary (as is the case with telogen effluvium,) you can still wonder and worry about when it will stop, how much longer you have to endure it, and what your hair will look like when it is finally over.  People may tell you that “it’s only hair,” but generally only people who haven’t watched their hair clog the drain can say things like this.  If you have watched helplessly as your hair becomes more and more thin, you know how emotionally and psychologically trying this can be.

Understandably then, people can look for ways to ease the stress.  Many people are intrigued by meditation.  And there’s no question that this practice can offer health benefits.  So of course some wonder if these health benefits might extend to your hair.  Someone might ask: “my doctor is pretty sure that I have telogen effluvium from some hormonal changes.  This has taken a huge toll on me.  I would say that I’ve lost at least 1/3 of the volume of my hair with no end in sight.  I am so stressed out.  The only relief that I get is doing yoga.  I’d like to expand on this and try some meditation.  But I have tried it before and I could not sit still like that.  However, right now I am desperate and I will force myself to sit.  Once I begin meditating, will it help or stop my hair loss?”

Give Yourself Permission To Use Whatever Type Of Meditation Works For You.  Tweak As Necessary: I honestly do not think that there is any down side to meditating.  The benefits are long and are well documented. Plus, meditation is free, easy, and relaxing.  But despite all of this, many people have trouble doing it.  I had trouble with the silence and with sitting still also.   So I gave myself permission to tweak it so that it worked for me.  I’ve had great success with an app called “Headspace” as well as just listening to soothing nature sounds or classical music that you can play on Youtube.   I also sometimes listen the Harry Potter series on YouTube. I find Jim Dale’s voice to be so relaxing and I zone out.  I close my eyes and allow the music or sounds to regulate my breathing.  “Headspace” is sort of a guided meditation.  There is a very soothing voice that walks you through the process.  But as you make progress and get into the habit, there are less and less prompts.  I am able to meditate using “headspace,” music, or soothing audio books just fine – I think because there is not the pressure of just sitting in silence without any guidance.  I just need for there to be sound.   I think that it is completely fine to meditate in whatever way that you find pleasing. The whole point is to regulate your breathing, slow or stop your thoughts, and just be present in the moment.  If this requires some music or prompts, I don’t see the harm.

Does Meditation Help With Hair Loss?: As to whether or not meditation will help with hair loss, if your trigger is stress, it certainly could help.  Meditation certainly helps to lower stress.  And even if stress is not your trigger, stress can sometimes prolong or worsen the hair loss.  It can also raise cortisol, which is a trigger for some.  So certainly lowering stress can inadvertently lower your hair loss.

However, with a medical trigger, it’s questionable as to whether stress-lowering methods can stop the hair loss.  Why? Because your hair follicles need time to go back into the growing phrase, which is when the hair loss stops.  This usually just happens in time.  Meditation, unfortunately, isn’t likely to speed this process.  It won’t reset your hair cycles.  And if you have an ongoing trigger that doesn’t stop, meditation won’t take away that trigger.

Still, even if meditation doesn’t eliminate your hair loss, it is still worth doing.  Anything that you can do to feel better and to lower stress is beneficial. I did meditate when I was having hair loss.  I am not sure that there was a cosmetic benefit, but there was certainly a mental one.  You can read about some of the other things that helped me on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com

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Aug 30

Is Telogen Effluvium More Visible At The Crown Area?

By: Ava Alderman:  For a woman experiencing hair shedding or loss, there are a couple of areas on our scalp that we are particularly concerned about.  These areas are the temples and the crown.  Why?  Because these are the areas that will most commonly thin if we have androgenetic alopecia or pattered thinning or baldness.  Many people who believe that they have telogen effluvium hope and pray that they do not have androgenetic alopecia because telogen effluvium eventually ends, whereas AGA can be a long term struggle (at least without treatment.)

Concerning the crown, someone may ask: “is it possible for hair loss at the crown to be more noticeable when you have telogen effluvium?  I honestly believe that I am shedding hair from all over.  I believe that I have TE because the loss is diffuse. I think that this TE theory almost has to be true because of the sheer volume of hair that I am losing.  But, when I take inventory and take an honest look at my hair, the area that looks the worst is my crown.  I almost can not stand to look back there.  There’s a little bald spot right at the end of my part line.  I have taken to teasing that area, but I hate to do this long term because I feel like it damages the hair and makes more of it fall out.  Is it possible for loss to be more noticeable at the crown, even with telogen effluvium?”

In my own experience, I believe that the answer to this question is yes.  I had chronic TE and I noticed more thinning in my temples and crown.  But once my loss ended, the hair mostly grew back. I do have one temple that is a little more sparse than the other.  I do not know why it has lagged behind.  But, compared to how it looked at it’s worse, I am very happy with how it filled back in.  And you probably would not notice anything unless I showed you old photos.

It might make you feel a little better to really look at your crown and notice how some of it faces down toward the sides and some of it goes straight down toward the back. It is for this reason that there is just naturally less coverage in that area.  Think about it this way.  If you had the same amount of hair on your sides and at your crown, the crown would look more sparse simply because, right at the top, it covers three different areas on your scalp.  The hair on the sides simply hangs straight down and provides full coverage.  But it only has to cover one area.

I think you’ve already made an important distinction.  You are losing hair all over.  It is diffuse loss.  Hair that is only falling out and being affected at the high androgen areas would be more of a concern.  But I believe that it is possible to have telogen effluvium and to still notice more loss at the temples and crown.  The temples have a lot of baby hairs to begin with.  And the coverage that the crown provides is divided, so that any loss there is going to be more noticeable.  Of course, if you notice other changes that may indicate changes in androgens outside of your scalp, (acne, or oil on the face and body) then consulting a dermatologist is a good idea.

There are colored powders that can help you cover the crown so you don’t have to tease it.  You match the powder to your hair color and you truly can not tell after it is applied. You’re welcome to read more about my experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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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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