Jun 13

How Much Time Does It Take To Cure Telogen Effluvium

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who ask me what is the time frame to “cure” telogen effluvium or dramatic hair shedding.  Understandably, people want this “cure” to happen as soon as is possible.  Shedding what seems to be bucket loads of hair is not at all fun.  And you can start to become worried or paranoid that the shedding is going to dramatically change your appearance if it doesn’t stop.

Someone might say something like: “I have a wedding coming up in about nine weeks.  Can I cure my telogen effluvium before that?  I don’t want my hair to be falling all over my dress and I don’t want it to be thin in the wedding pictures.  So how would I go about curing it?”

Most experts will tell you that really, there isn’t a “cure” for telogen effluvium except for time.  Because technically, the shedding is happening because something has happened to the body (an illness, medications or diet, etc.) that causes some of the hair follicles to reset themselves.  So hair that was growing before suddenly begins to shed instead.  Once all of the hair that makes this switch sheds out and begins to regrow, then your hair should just resume with its normal cycles.  Yes, it may be a little more thin and you may have to be patient as it fills in.  But theoretically, there is no lasting damage to the follicles.  They have simply reset.

Where this gets tricky is that the follicles can be reset gradually.  Every hair that is going to be affected by the telogen effluvium does not shed out at one time.  As you probably already know, it happens over the course of weeks or even months. Experts will tell you that the process can take as long as three months (unless you have chronic telogen effluvium.)

There are also a few more issues that can complicate things.  There is often an inciting trigger that kicks off the telogen effluvium.  Many triggers are one-time events – like giving birth or having surgery.  They resolve by themselves.  But other triggers are ongoing – like hormonal changes, chronic illness, or a trigger that you just can’t be identified.  If the trigger doesn’t disappear, the shedding can sometimes continue.

Also, sometimes the shedding kicks off inflammation, that itself becomes a trigger.  And the stress that the TE causes can raise cortisol, which is a hormonal change, (and also a potential new trigger.)  Fortunately, some people do not experience this type of secondary trigger.  For them, the “cure” for TE is simply time.  They have to wait for all of the affected hair to reset.  For others, there is a need to lessen stress and to tame inflammation. If you are not sure which category you fall into, you can try to cover all of the bases by eating well, keeping stress levels down, combatting scalp inflammation, and asking yourself if you have eliminated the trigger or it is possibly ongoing.   Also, if the hair loss continues on, you want to ask yourself if its possibly another type of hair loss.  But if you are very early into this, it very well could still be telogen effluvium.

I hope that helps.  If you’d like to read about some things that helped me to get through a couple of different bouts of TE, you can check out my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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May 30

Is My Scalp Tingling A Sign Of Regrowing Or Of More Hair Falling Out?

By: Ava Alderman:  I get a lot of correspondence from people with hair loss who are experiencing discomfort with their scalp.  Specifically, their scalp might be tight and painful.  It might feel tingly or have a “pins and needles” sort of sensation.  It may even be red and irritated.  Many people assume that this is part of the hair loss process.  But then when the sensation continues on, they start to question this assumption.  They may read that hair begins regrowing as soon as it falls out, so they may start to speculate that perhaps it is the regrowth process that is causing the discomfort and the tingling feeling.

Someone might ask: “my scalp has been bothering me for months now.  It started shortly after my hair started falling out from telogen effluvium.  I’ve never had dandruff, so I have never been someone who has to scratch my scalp or pick at it.  But ever since my hair started falling out, my scalp has itched, burned, and generally just made me aware of its presence.  If it is not slightly painful, it is sort of tingly.  I figured the hairs that were falling out might have been causing the discomfort. But then I talked to a friend of mine and she said she noticed her scalp tingling like that when she started hair growth vitamins.  So she says that what I am feeling is probably an indication of my hair actually growing and not falling out.  Who is right?”

I actually think that you are both right, at least in my experience. I’ve had telogen effluvium more than once. And every time, I have had scalp symptoms during both hair loss and hair regrowth.  Here is why.  You normally don’t feel it when your hair falls out or regrows because typically, only ten percent (at most) of your hair sheds out at any one time.  But when you have telogen effluvium, that percentage is higher.  A much higher amount of follicles are affected and become active.  This can create some inflammation, which can cause those burning / stinging / itching / tingling symptoms that we are all aware of.  However, those same follicles that were active during the fall also must be active during regrowth.  The follicle lost a hair in the beginning stage but then it must grow a hair in the regrowth stage.  Since there are so many follicles doing this at once, inflammation continues to be a possibility and of course we know that you can feel inflammation on the scalp.

I hope that this helps and answers the question.  Many notice that as the shedding begins to slow, the scalp symptoms get better.  If this isn’t the case or if you just need some relief, dandruff shampoo, scalpacin, and tea tree oil can all provide some temporary relief.  Once the cycle is over and you only have a small amount of follicles being affected by the growth / rest cycle, you should once again no longer be aware of the cycles that are happening with your scalp and you should no longer feel it.

I hope that helps.  If you’d like to read about some things that helped me cope with TE, you can check out my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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May 23

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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May 19

The Telogen Effluvium Recovery Process: Step By Step:

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who think (and very much hope) that they are starting to see some improvement in their telogen effluvium or shedding.  There typically comes a point in this process where you get very tired of seeing the hair falling out and dealing with the lack of volume, so you begin to watch your hair and scalp with an eagle eye.  You start to be on the look out for any signs that you might be in recovery.  The problem can come when you don’t know what is a sign of recovery and what is not.  This article is meant to outline the steps that you might see on your road to recovery.

Step One: The Trigger Is Removed:  This type of shedding is caused by stress to your body.  Sometimes, that is an illness.  Other times, it is a change in hormones.  Occasionally, it can be an inflammatory response or an allergic reaction.  So long as the body is no longer under stress, has recovered, or no longer has a reoccurring trigger,  the affected follicles should eventually go from the shedding phase to the growing phase and recovery begins.  Chronic telogen effluvium occurs when the trigger or stressor is ongoing or another trigger (like inflammation) pops up so that the shedding continues.

Step Two:  Regrowth Begins:  Honestly, as soon as a hair is kicked out of its follicle and sheds out, another hair is in line to take its place.  You won’t be able to see that baby hair replacement for a little while, but rest assured that the process starts long before you realize it.  Since hair only grows 1/2 inch per month and can come in lighter colored or very thin, it can take a while before you get a good look at your regrowth, but it is typically there long before you can actually see it.

Any Inflammation Or Miniaturization Present Shows Up:  Ideally, once you start actually being able to see regrowth without too much trouble (which should happen in a couple of months or so,) the shedding will have started to taper off some.  If the shedding is still going full force with no sign of letting up, it’s probably not a bad idea to examine your scalp for signs of inflammation.  Sometimes, if you have a red, pink, itchy, tingly or painful scalp, you might have inflammation exacerbating the shedding.   The inflammation can be treated, so it makes sense to be on the look out for it.

Another thing you want to look for is miniaturization.  Regrowth hair can look kind of thin and pale when it is first growing.  But once it gains a little length, it should start to look normal.  If you have obvious miniaturization, it makes sense to evaluate for androgen – driven hair loss or AGA.  Now, prolonged and chronic telogen effluvium can cause some mild inflammation (at least in my experience,) but it’s important to be conscious of this because the earlier that miniaturization and the androgens are treated, the better the results are going to be.

Not everyone has inflammation or miniaturization.  Many people do not.   But it’s smart to watch for both because the earlier they are addressed, the better the result.

The Volume Begins To Fill In As Follicles Are In The Growing Phase Again And Hair Gains Length:  As the majority of your hair is back in the growing phase for a while, the strands that are regrowing should start to gain some length.  When many strands gain this length at once, that is when you start to get a gain in volume.  It is when your hair should start looking more full.  And since most of your follicles are getting nourished again, the hair should regain it’s health and sheen. Telogen effluvium hair can look dull, fly away, and dry.  But once you are in recovery for a while, your hair should regain it’s health and look shiny and manageable again.

This process doesn’t always come as fast as we would like.  But as long as the trigger is removed and inflammation / miniaturization are kept at bay, you should eventually get your hair back.  By definition, telogen effluvium is a pause – not a permanent loss.  The hair that is lost grows back. And since the follicles should not be permanently affected, you should theoretically eventually end up with the hair you started with.

Of course, if you have too many cycles of telegen effluvium (which turns into CTE) or you struggle with your trigger, then this process can take longer and be more drastic than any of us would like.

I did have some chronic telogen effluvium.  But that was before I knew how important combating the inflammation truly was.  Once I understood this and embraced preventatives, things got much better.  There’s more about my experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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May 18

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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May 17

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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May 16

Can Holding Your Head Upside Down Help With Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman:  I’ve heard from a couple of people who asked me if regularly holding their head upside down would help to slow their telogen effluvium.  To paraphrase their concern, they might say: “my grandmother told me that if you hold you head upside down for 20 minutes per day, it will stop hair loss.  I want to try this, but my grandmother also told me to brush my hair one hundred strokes per day with a boar hair brush.  That was a disaster.  Is the upside down theory even remotely true?”

The Low Down On Inversion Therapy For Hair Loss:  There is a form of therapy for hair loss called inversion therapy that some feel has helped their hair loss.  To my knowledge, there have never been true clinical studies that have tested this method against placebo and compared the results.  But, there was a book written about this topic and there are some testimonials saying that the practice did slow hair loss and encourage regrowth.

The idea behind this is that by inverting your head, you are bringing blood flow to your scalp.  It is also said that inversion helps the lymphatic system, which in turn helps with inflammation (which can also cause hair loss.) Increasing blood flow to the scalp is not new.  This is what topicals like rogaine seek to accomplish (as well as products like the laser comb.)  I can’t see any harm in inverting your head for short periods of time, but know that the book in which this is discussed recommends using an inversion table and  starting very slowly.

Understanding Changing Hair Cycles: Since telogen effluvium happens because something has made your hair cycles switch from growing to resting, I highly doubt that increasing blood flow is going to change the hair cycles.  This is just my opinion, but when I had chronic telogen effluvium I used the laser comb, rogaine, and scalp massage.  And although I think none of these things hurt in terms of hair regrowth, they did not stop my telogen effluvium.  I had to stop the trigger, combat inflammation, and then wait for the cycle to reset itself.  It’s always a great idea to do whatever you can to support healthy regrowth.  But getting the hair back to growing mode means removing the original trigger (or waiting for it to pass.)  I just do not see how inversion would accomplish this, unless your hair loss is due to severe stress and the inversion relaxes you enough to severely decrease the stress.  The bottom line is most things are worth a try as long as they aren’t damaging.  I am not a doctor, but I don’t think there’s any harm in trying this.  However, I would think that it would be more beneficial for regrowth than with stopping the loss.  You can read more about my experiences with hair loss and some things that helped at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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May 09

Every Time I Put My Shedding Hair Up, Short Hairs Fall Out

By: Ava Alderman:  It can be a cruel irony.  When you are shedding hair, you put your hair up in order to spare yourself the pain of having to deal with it, but then it can seem as if more hair comes out as a result.  You might also notice a particular type of hair coming out as the result of your hair being put up.

Someone might say: “I have been shedding hair for about eleven weeks.  I feel like it is really aggressive shedding.  I’ve had seasonal types of sheds before.  But this goes beyond that. It started after I went off of birth control pills, so I think that it is telogen effluvium.  To keep the hair from getting all over my clothes and just annoying me, I put it up in a bun or a ponytail and that does help.  This keeps me from having to pick the long hairs off of my clothes.  But unfortunately, I notice all these small, short hairs all over my clothes when I wear my hair up.  Is it the pulling that is bringing the short hairs out?  This is really troubling because those short hairs are probably regrowth hairs.  I like the relief of putting my hair up.  But I don’t want to sacrifice those little hairs. They are the foundation of my hair in the future.”

I’m not sure that putting your hair up is pulling out the hairs.  I think that it is more likely that since they aren’t being caught in the ponytail (since they are not yet long enough,) they are able to fall onto your clothing.  I also think that it’s probable that they are caught up in the same shedding cycle as the rest of your hair.  If shedding goes on for long enough – even the regrowth can get caught in the shedding cycle.  Putting your hair up really doesn’t have anything to do with this.  And once the telogen effluvium and shedding stops, the regrowth should stop shedding and can hopefully grow unimpeded.

I don’t see any reason to stop putting up your hair if it is giving you some relief.  Hair would have to be long to be pulled out anyway and once hair is in the shedding cycle, it’s going to fall out eventually regardless of whether you’ve put it up or not.  It’s just that the ponytail isn’t catching the short hairs to keep them from falling on your clothing.  It feels like you’re sacrificing them, but you really aren’t.  And once they are pushed out, a new hair is theoretically starting to regrow again anyway.  Hopefully, there are no additional underlying triggers or inflammation and the shedding will stop soon.  Once this happens, the regrowth to reach its full potential.

I know that it’s upsetting to see the short regrowth shedding out.  But it’s simply a continuation of the cycle.  As long as you know that you’ve addressed all possible triggers and are addressing inflammation, it can be a waiting game.  You can read about some things that helped me when I had chronic telogen effluvium on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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May 02

Is There Such A Thing As Telogen Effluvium That Never Stops?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from folks who worry that their telogen effluvium goes far beyond what is normal.  Not only do they feel as if they are shedding more than what is typical, but they feel that they are shedding for much longer than is typical.  In short, they feel that their experience is extreme all of the way around.  And it can start to feel like there is never going to be any relief or any end.

Someone might complain: “it has been seven months since my shedding started and it honestly has not let up for even one day.  It seems as if every day is worse than the day before.  That might sound like an exaggeration, but that is the way that I feel.  Plus as my hair becomes more and more thin, each daily loss gets more and more noticeable and is more and more impactful because I can’t afford to loose that much more.  I was discussing this with one of my friends and she told me that this lady at her gym started shedding after she gave birth to her child and has never stopped. That was years ago.  And this woman is still shedding the same amount.  Is it possible to have telogen effluvium that never ends?”

It’s certainly possible to have reoccurring bouts of chronic telogen effluvium.  Some people are very vulnerable to any hormonal or other significant change in the body.  So, for these folks, it doesn’t take a whole lot to induce a bout of shedding.  This was the case with me until I figured out that I had to watch what supplements and medications that I was using and I even sometimes had to watch my diet.  I had to be very consistent in my habits.  Any hormonal change could influence my hair.

Other times, you could be continuing to shed because you may have a trigger that you haven’t identified.  Sometimes this is an unrecognized medical condition or unrecognized stress that keeps happening over and over and keeps triggering the hair loss.  If you can figure out the trigger and remove it, that can sometimes stop the shedding.

Finally, there are hair loss conditions that are continuous but that are not telogen effluvium. People sometimes ask me if TE can make you so thin that you will need a wig or will eventually look as if you are nearly bald.  It shouldn’t.  Because TE is just a resetting of the hair cycles.  The hair is going from growing to resting.  But only a percentage of the hairs are affected (although I know that it doesn’t feel that way) and hair continues to grow throughout this.  The hair and the follicles ideally should not suffer any damage.

However, with other types of hair loss (like androgenetic alopecia,) the follicles are shrinking and being compromised so it becomes harder for that follicle to produce a healthy hair.  Therefore, the loss goes on and on.  There is another hair loss condition called alopecia areata where the loss can be so severe that loss is patchy or eventually total.  However, in both cases, the appearance of your hair would make these conditions hard to ignore or misdiagnose.  AA often presents with hair loss that is in round patches.  And AGA often brings with it much thinner hair over time.  I’m not a doctor, by in my observation and from my own experience, if you aren’t seeing either of these things and are instead just shedding in the long term, you’ll want to look at any hormonal vulnerabilities, the possibility of inflammation at your scalp, and a trigger that has yet to be identified. You can read more about my own struggles with hair loss on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Apr 25

I’ve Almost Developed A Compulsion To Check The Status Of My Hair And Gently Tug It While Having Telogen Effluvium

By: Ava Alderman: If you have never experienced telogen effluvium or severe hair shedding, the topics discussed in this article may seem very strange to you.  However, if you have had this type of hair loss, you may be very familiar with the idea of counting hairs, finger combing your hair to avoid any pulling, or the idea of wearing dark clothing so that your spent hairs are not as noticeable.  These habits might sound strange, but for many of us, they become our reality as our hair loss becomes severe or goes on for a long period of time.

When you have this type of hair loss, you are always trying to look forward and you are always waiting for the day that you will start to recover and not see so many hairs.  That is why many of us become preoccupied with trying to gauge our hair loss on any given day.  And although this is understandable, it can, and often does, become a problem.  Because you can become so invested in the result, you can start to gauge your hair loss almost compulsively.

For example, sometime might say: “my hair has been falling out for just a little over three months.  If you listen to all of the experts, my hair loss should have ended by now.  And yes, I count my hair fall.  I know that I am not alone in this because when you read topics about this on forums, you’ll see that people often reference ‘100 hairs per day’ or ‘200 hairs per day,’ etc.  How would people even know how many hairs there were if they weren’t counting?  So yes, I count.  But that’s not all that I do.  I also always catch myself running my hands down the shaft of my hair and gently tugging so that I am able to remove all of the loose hair.  Then I will eyeball it to see how much hair is in my hands.  I find myself doing this countless times per day.  And I’m always sad and disappointed when I come away with a bunch of hair.  The other day, a friend asked me what I was doing and I was embarrassed. But I feel like I need to take inventory to see where I’m at.  Still, I know that it isn’t speeding up my recovery or anything and I’d like to stop this or slow down.  But it’s almost become a compulsion.  How do I stop?”

I am so sorry that you are going through this.  I know what you mean. I counted my hairs for more than half a year when I had telogen effluvium.  And I used to sort of touch the end of my ponytail fishing for spent hairs.  (I wore my hair in a ponytail all of the time to keep it out of the way and to try to keep my mind off of it.)  This created a cycle where I was always very stressed out about my hair.  And the more I counted or played with my ponytail, the more stressed I got.  I actually started putting my hair in those twist clips so that there was nothing that I could put my hands on anymore.  Because I realized that by taking inventory like this, I was only creating stress and anxiety, and both of these things can cause more shedding or prolong your trigger, which are two things that you don’t need.

I also decided that since I had spent so much time counting hairs, I could honestly eyeball my hair while washing (by checking the drain) to know how much I was loosing.  I could look at a little ball of hair and know roughly how many hairs it contained without needing to count.  So I stopped that, too.  I have no idea if no longer feeding this impulse helped to stop the shedding or if that was just a happy coincidence, but I do know that it eased things for me a bit until the shedding slowed so much that I no longer needed to count anyway.

I do understand the compulsion, but I also agree that it is beneficial to stop.  It really doesn’t aid you in any way.  You’ve likely been at this long enough to know when you’re having a light shedding day or a heavy one.   Whatever it takes, keep your hands off of your hair.  Put it up and leave it alone.  Wash it and then give it a quick glance and then move on.  I know that this is easier said than done.  But I promise that it is a relief when you begin to put it into practice.

You can read more about some things that helped me cope and get through this on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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