Oct 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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Oct 11

Does Exercise Help With Hair Regrowth After Telogen Effluvium?

I often hear from people who are trying to embrace a healthier lifestyle after they’ve gone through (or are going through) a bout of telogen effluvium. Some want to try exercise in the hopes that this will make things better. They might ask a question like: “my hair has been shedding for about two months. I haven’t been to a dermatologist, but my primary care doctor says that I probably have telogen effluvium from dieting. So I have stopped dieting, but so far, my hair is still shedding. I don’t want to damage my body anymore to lose weight, so I’ve started eating healthy and I want to start exercising. I’m wondering if exercise will help with my shedding and regrowth.”

There are a couple of trains of thought about this. Some people feel that exercise is helpful in a couple of ways. First, it helps encourage increased blood flow which is good for your scalp and hair. Second, it can dramatically decrease stress, which is vitally important. As you may already know, telogen effluvium often occurs after a stress to the body where your system goes into “flight or fight.”  This can happen to your body for many reasons including illness, dieting, medications, surgery, hormonal changes, etc. Since hair is not necessary for survival, your body will put the hair into “resting” mode and it sheds. So anything that you can do to relax your body and lower stress helps to avoid those “flight or fight” responses (and the hormonal changes that come with them) which can trigger TE.

However, with this said, it’s my belief that you have to be careful here. If you overdo exercise, it can actually stress your body or change your hormones. Neither of these things would be great if you’re trying to recover from TE. My position on this has always been that GENTLE and relaxing exercise is a good idea, but strenuous exercise that may tax your body might actually do more harm than good. I think that yoga or pilates are great alternatives. They offer health and physical fitness benefits, but they are gentle and are great for stress relief.

If you are going to exercise, it’s important that you wash your hair afterward. You don’t want to leave any sweat or debris on your scalp. Although telogen effluvium is different than androgenic alopeica, they can present in similar ways. So if there is any chance that your hair loss may have an androgen or inflammatory component, leaving sweat or debris on your scalp is not a good idea. You always want a clean scalp that is free of debris (which could clog follicles) or inflammation (which could cause more hair loss) when you are dealing with shedding.

In short, I think that gentle exercise is a great idea with telogen effluvium, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. Plus you want to clean your scalp afterward if you’ve worked up a sweat. I found yoga very helpful when I was going through telogen effluvium.  Not only was shedding stressful, but I always worried about how my hair would look for the long term.  The deep breathing with yoga helped to ease these worries.  Having a better looking body helped me focus on something other than my hair. And I’m sure that the stress relief was ultimately beneficial.  You read about more things that helped on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Sep 20

Does Telogen Effluvium Cause Grey Hair?

I sometimes hear from people who feel that they’ve been suffering from hair loss symptoms which they are not sure are related to their telogen effluvium.  Yes, they’ve had the expected hair loss.  But they also notice changes in texture or color.  I sometimes hear from people who notice grey hair and who can’t find any documentation that the shedding could be causing their hair to grey.

Someone might say: “I am only 27 years old.  For the past seven months, I have lost massive amounts of hair.  No one is sure why it has happened.  My health is good.  I have not changed medications.  I have been under stress because of an illness in my family.  So that is the only thing that we can figure out.  I suspect that I have chronic telogen effluvium because obviously, it has gone on for longer than what is considered typical.  And my hair looks really awful due to the loss of volume.  But even worse, now I’m seeing greys sprouting at my temples.  I’m too young for this.  And none of the females in my family turned grey early.  Could my telogen effluvium be causing this?  Will the greys stop once the TE does?”

There’s not a lot of literature about TE causing grey hair.  It is thought that grey hair is caused when the production of melanin slows down.  This typically happens as we age, but some experts believe that stress can have an affect on free radicals, which then slows melanin, which in turn causes grey hair. You only need to look at past presidents of the United States to see that this is possible.  They all seem to age (and go grey) pretty rapidly.  So, it is possible that the stress could be causing both your TE and your bit of grey hair.  Another possibility is that sometimes, your regrowth comes in a bit lighter colored and then darkens up with time.  My hair is medium brown, but my regrowth came in with an almost blonde tinge and then darkened as it grew in longer.  I did notice a few greys when I was in recovery also.  This is going to sound odd, but I didn’t mind them because they were thicker in texture, which added to my volume.  Once my active shedding ended, I colored only the grey hairs with one of those wands and gentle non-ammonia touch up coloring.  And it did seem like I saw less of them in time.

Here is another theory which I used to account for some of my miniaturization (which thankfully reversed for the most part.)  I’m not an expert on this in any way, but from my own experience and from speaking with others, I believe it is possible that CTE can age your hair.  Think about it.  A normal hair cycle lasts for 3 – 5 years, so if you have prolonged shedding and your hair goes through a few TE cycles simply because it keeps shedding out and recycling, then your hair now might essentially be the same as it would  6 – 10 years down the road if you’d never gotten TE.  I always thought it was possible that I was getting some of the hair that I might normally have gotten in mid-life had my TE have not happened.

I know that the grey is something that you’d rather not happen.  But try to look at it like at least it is hair growing back. And it may darken as it grows longer in length.  In the meantime, as best as you can, try to manage the stress because this might help in more ways than one.  I know that CTE can be a very tough, draining thing.  If it helps, you can read more about my experience with CTE on my  blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Sep 16

Telogen Effluvium For A Year: Is It Possible?

I sometimes hear from people who are suffering from hair shedding for longer than was originally expected.  They’ve often been told that they have telogen effluvium.  But because the shedding lasts for much longer than it should, they can begin to question this.

Someone might say: “my hair started shedding very severely after I got close to college graduation and began the recruiting process.  Things were more competitive than I thought and so yes, I got very stressed out.  I went to the college health center and I was told that I probably had telogen effluvium due to stress.  They assured me that it should end in a couple of months.  Well, now it has been one year later. I am still shedding.  And now I actually have a job that I love. I have been here for six months and my stress levels are actually pretty low.  I went to my family doctor and he ran some basic tests and told me that he could find nothing wrong.  He said that sometimes the shedding just lasts for a little longer.  This doesn’t ring true to me.  I don’t think I have alopeica areta because the hair does grow back and there are no patches or bald spots.  Does anyone have telogen effluvium that lasts for over a year?”

In my experience, this is possible because there is a condition called chronic telogen effluvium which is defined as shedding that lasts for longer than the typical three months.  There’s no consensus as to exactly why this happens and everyone has their theories.  I went through a bout of CTE once and I do believe that it was due to a couple of things.  I believe that I had developed some inflammation in my scalp (which I didn’t recognize so I didn’t treat.)  And, in desperation, I tried many different supplements and supposed remedies.  Some of these affected my hormones.  When your hormones go up and down, this can most definitely cause CTE.  Some people develop CTE because they have an underlying medical condition or other trigger that is never identified and so the cycle just keeps happening over and over again.  If you can’t find a medical issue, then perhaps think about hormones, diet, or scalp issues.

Speaking of scalp issues, early adulthood does bring about AGA or androgenetic alopecia for some.  People often think that only men get this condition, but that just isn’t true.  There’s another misconception that AGA only causes slow hair loss.  This can be true, but there are people who get aggressive shedding with AGA so that the presentation looks like telogen effluvium.  Since it has been a year, you may want to examine your regrowth and then compare it with your regular hair to see if there is any miniaturization.  I mention this because AGA is by far the most common type of hair loss.  So for that reason alone, it is worth considering, especially since it’s highly treatable when caught early.

I’m certainly not a doctor, but as someone who has gone through CTE, I can tell you that for many, it does get better.  The trigger is eventually removed, the inflammation is resolved (as was in my case), or the person finds out that they had AGA instead and they treat accordingly.  Never give up trying to figure out the cause.  Because that is often the beginning of turning things around.  If it helps, you can read more about my resolution of CTE on my  blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Sep 02

Can Hair Follicles Produce Healthy Hair After Chronic Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who have been suffering from telogen effluvium hair loss for so long that it has reached the level where it’s said to be chronic, which is typically defined as longer than six months.  These folks often worry that their hair follicles have been damaged and, as the result, will be unable to produce healthy or normal hairs once again.

Common comments are things like: “I’ve had hair loss for over a year.  During that time, my regrowth was thin and it kept falling out so that it never had the chance to regrow normally.  Now, the shedding seems to have stopped.  But I’m worried about my regrowth.  Will my follicles be able to produce normal and healthy hair again? Or, have they been damaged from this process?  I have an awful feeling that I’m going to regrow thin, sickly, flyaway hairs.”

I’m certainly not a medical expert, but in my own experience and observation, as long as the triggers that kicked off the shedding in the first place have been removed and you have no other scalp or hair loss issues, then normal hair cycles (including regrowth) should eventually resume.   Sometimes, people worry that their scalp or ability to regrow hair has been negatively affected because they see their new hair fall out or they notices that it looks thin early after recovery.  Sometimes, the new hair has to grow a few inches in length before it begins to reach a normal diameter.  Also, it is possible to need a couple of shedding cycles before your normal hair cycles resume.

If your hair is a couple of inches long or you’re still seeing things that worry you for a couple of months after recovery, then there are a couple of other possibilities.  The first is that the original trigger has returned or a new trigger has come up.  If your hair loss is due to medical issues, then it’s possible that they are not completely resolved.  Another possibility is the inflammatory process.  Rapid and drastic hair shedding and regrowth can sometimes cause an inflammation process in your scalp your can affect your regrowth.  If this is the case though, you’ll often see a reddish or pink scalp that feels tight or itches.

If you’ve ruled these things out, ask yourself if it’s possible that the CTE was instead an androgen driven process.  Androgen driven hair loss or AGA is the most common form of hair loss, even for women.  And one of the symptoms of this type of hair loss is a scalp and hair follicles that have problems regrowing and maintaining healthy hair because of the excess androgens (or your body’s reaction to normal androgens.)  So if you’ve given your regrowth plenty of time and you’re still seeing things that make you worry, then it might be a good idea to explore if your hair loss is androgen driven.  Also, some hair loss starts out as an effluvium and eventually turns into androgen driven loss as soon as the person reaches the age where the AGA would have begun in the first place.

So to answer the question posed, it’s my experience that the follicles are not negatively affected by CTE in the long term.  While it’s possible for hair to look different when it is still short and it’s not uncommon to have a few abnormal cycles before normal patterns resume, follicles should behave normally several months after the shedding is over.  If they aren’t, then it’s important to see if there are any other possibilities (like inflammation, medical issues, or androgens) that need to be addressed.

I did have several abnormal cycles after my shedding ended. My regrowth looked like peach fuzz for a while until I got serious about combatting the inflammation and supporting healthy regrowth. My hair might have resumed normally if I had been patient, but I didn’t feel that I could afford to wait after all the damage that was the result of the shedding.   If it it helps, you can read my story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 31

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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Aug 29

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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Aug 29

Can Gluten Cause Hair Loss?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from folks who have been suffering from hair loss and who are attempting to exhaust all possible causes.  Many have seen doctors and dermatologists.  Many have gotten a clean bill of health and yet are still seeing hair loss.  So, as a result, some will look at their diets and might begin to suspect that some substances that they eat might contribute to the hair loss.  One example is gluten, which has gotten a lot of press lately because of the popularity of gluten free diets.  Someone might ask: “is it possible for gluten to cause hair loss?  I have been shedding for over four months.  My dermatologist believes that I have telogen effluvium, but we can not find any cause for it.  I had my primary care physician do blood work.  My hormonal and thyroid levels are fine.  Apparently I am completely healthy.  The only thing that I can remotely suspect is that I recently ended a diet where I was eating low carb.  Now that I am eating carbohydrates again, I am probably taking in a lot of gluten.  Could gluten be causing my hair loss?”

I researched this and the only think that I found between gluten and hair loss was in those individuals who have celiac disease.  People with this condition generally have other symptoms besides hair loss, such as extreme gastrointestinal issues, itchy skin, mouth sores, and weight loss.  Some have joint pain.  It is thought that celiac disease contributes to hair loss because it brings about an autoimmune response in the body.  As a result, people who have celiac disease are more likely to have alopecia areata instead of telogen effluvium.  Sometimes though, celiac disease causes malnourishment, which could also result in hair loss.

Someone who does not have celiac disease would probably not have these autoimmune or malnourishment issues and therefore, it is probably not gluten that is causing the hair loss.  What might be causing it in this case is changing your diet.  Sometimes, making major dietary changes can throw off your body and cause telogen effluvium, especially diets that are restrictive.  The reason is that when you diet, your body starts to think that it needs to store its reserves.  As a result, it will go into resting mode where your hair is concerned and this is when you will see the shedding.  Of course, you should ask your doctor about this, but my research indicates that unless you have celiac disease, gluten has less of a chance of being a contributing factor to the hair loss.

In my experience, you have to be really careful with changing your diet if you’re vulnerable to telogen effluvium.  However, assuming that you are dealing with telogen effluvium and don’t have inflammation, once your hair follicles reset, you should hopefully see some improvement.   If it helps, you can read more about about my own experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 16

Why Is My Hair Getting Worse After Telogen Effluvium?

When you are shedding hair, you often hope that once the hair stops falling out so dramatically, the nightmare is going to be over.  Since telogen effluvium is thought to be only temporary, most people expect their hair to start looking better once the shedding begins to slow down.  Unfortunately, this is not always what happens.  Sometimes, you get the slow down that you’d been hoping for, but you notice no improvement in the appearance of your hair.

Someone might say: “I honestly thought that it was not possible for my hair to actually look worse after my telogen effluvium was over.  I thought that this is when I would start to see it looking better.  I shed non-stop for four months.  It is finally starting to slow down.  I think that the worst is over – at least as far as shedding goes.  But the worst is definitely here was far as my hair is concerned.  It’s limp.  The texture is flyaway and it’s very dry.  It’s very hard to control, but if I put it in a ponytail, the tail is so thin and it just pulls more hair out anyway.  This is the worst that my hair has looked.  I thought that things were supposed to be getting better.”

It can take a while to see a noticeable difference in the way your hairs looks after recovery.  Here is why:   Losing all that hair is going to take a toll on your volume.  There is no way around that, really.  There are certainly styling techniques that you can use to make the most of the volume you have.  But you won’t get your original volume back  until your hair grows in.  It only grows about a half inch per month, so this takes time.

As far as the texture, telogen effluvium resets your hair cycle to the resting phase, which means that many follicles are not getting actively nourished.  As a result, your hair can look dull and be dry.  Once the TE is over, the follicles will eventually go back to the growing phase where they’re getting nourished, but they don’t all go back at once (in the same way that they didn’t fall out all at once.)  Once this reset happens for all of the affected follicles, your texture should eventually return to normal.

You might also want to make sure that you don’t have any miniaturization.  This means that the diameter of your hair has become smaller either because of androgens or inflammation.  When your hair mininaturizes, it takes many more hair strands to cover a smaller area.  Thin hair can be harder to tame than course hair.  And when your hair miniaturizes, it will provide less coverage and volume.  Now, miniaturization isn’t certain with telogen effluvium.  In fact in most cases, it’s said that the follicles are not affected.  However, in severe or prolonged cases, people have reported miniaturization.  I had a slight case of it after a severe bout of TE.  I could tell because when I plucked hairs on a certain section of my head, they would be very thin with no real substance.  If you moved them, they would float like a feather, whereas normal hairs on my head were much more coarse and would not float.  This can be addressed by combating inflammation in some cases.

The bottom line is that unfortunately, improvement isn’t immediate.  You have to wait for regrowth to take hold and for all of the follicles to reset.  Plus you have to combat any inflammation that may have popped up.  However, the good news is that once these things are done and with some patience, you should eventually get hair that is greatly improved.

If it helps for reassurance, my hair looked very rough after one bout of chronic telogen effluvium with some miniaturization.  However, time has now passed and I pretty much have my normal hair back.  It didn’t happen as fast as I might have liked, but once I understood all that was at play, it did happen. You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 08

Is It True That Hair Loss Doesn’t Have To be Permanent?

I sometimes hear from people who are dealing with their first bout of aggressive or severe hair loss.  Many are understandably quite afraid.  They’ve never experienced this before and it’s very scary to see so much of your hair falling out all at once.  Some reach out to family, friends, and the medical profession for reassurance and are often told that their hair loss is probably temporary.

Someone might say: “is it true that hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent?  My hair started shedding about six weeks ago and it is very dramatic.  Sometimes, I feel like I will go bald.  I asked my family doctor about this and he says that sometimes, hormonal changes or diet issues can cause hair loss which doesn’t have to be permanent.  Is he right?  I’m thinking about seeing a dermatologist about this because it is so much hair that is coming out.”

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been through a few rounds of very aggressive telogen effluvium and have done a lot of research on this.  I’d encourage you to see a dermatologist as it might put your mind at ease.  But it is true that many types of hair loss are not permanent.  Telogen effluvium is a condition where your hair temporarily sheds, and as your doctor told you, any changes to the body like fluctuating hormones, (or a dietary or medical change) can cause your body to attempt to store its strength and reserves.  When your body does this, it sees hair as something that is not mandatory or necessary.  So your hair cycles switch from growing to resting, and more hair sheds out as a result.  Eventually, once your body stabilizes again or the trigger is removed, the normal hair cycle will resume and your hair will stop shedding.  This process was only temporary and there usually has been no change or damage to your hair follicles. Only your hair cycle changed and it will reset, so there is no reason for telogen effluvium to be permanent, although some people do take a while to recover.

There’s another hair loss condition called alopecia areata which is an autoimmune disorder which causes the hair to fall out.  Recovery from this condition varies; however, because the follicles remain alive and active for this condition, it also doesn’t have to be permanent in some cases.

The most common type of hair loss is androgen-driven loss or androgenic alopecia (AGA.)  This is more commonly known as male patterned baldness, although women can and do suffer from it as well.  In this condition, the follicles ARE affected because they get smaller (or miniaturized) over time,  As a result, the hair gradually becomes more and more thin / fine with total baldness in the affected area happening eventually in some cases.  AGA can be permanent if you ignore it and do not attempt to treat it.  That said, there are many effective treatments today.  That is especially true if you treat it early before the follicles are severely damaged.    So I would say that AGA can certainly be permanent in some cases.  But in others, it can be slowed substantially or even reversed.

That is why I agree that hair loss does not need to be permanent.  But it is always a good idea to treat any form as soon as is possible.  In the case of telogen effluvium, you can make sure that you’ve addressed and removed the trigger and can encourage regrowth.  If you have alopecia areata, you can find a very good dermatologist who can treat you.  And even with AGA, if you seek early treatment, you can usually avoid hair loss that is permanent or severe.

As I said, I had very severe telogen effluvium that resulted in some miniaturization, but thankfully, it was definitely not permanent. You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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