By: Ava Alderman: I hear from a lot of folks who are trying to determine what type of hair loss they have. Understandably, figuring this out is of great concern to them because there are different treatments and outcomes for specific types of hair loss.
The most two common types that are of concern are telogen effluvium (TE) and androgenetic alopecia (AGA.) These can present somewhat similarly. With both, you notice more hair shedding out. And over time, you can notice thinning with each. People often ask me which type is worse.
Someone might say: “I always thought that I would prefer to have telogen effluvium over androgenetic alopecia. My brother has AGA and I’ve watched my sister go through TE after she had a baby. Well, now I’ve started having severe shedding after I started a new medication. I believe that this is probably telogen effluvium. It’s so bad that I sometimes feel like I am going bald. There is literally hair every where. And every day, I start over and I go through the very same thing. I know that technically, TE should eventually end. And I guess there is some comfort in that, but it is hard to remember it when my hair seems to be coming out in handfuls. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but that’s how it feels sometimes. In contrast, my brother who has AGA has only moderate shedding. It really doesn’t seem to bother him too much. I saw him combing his hair, and it wasn’t like my situation where it just rains hair from the brush. I told my brother this and he had that although he could see my point, at least with TE, it should one day end. I see what he’s saying, but this constant raining hair is awful. So which is worse?”
It Can Be A Matter Of Perspective: Well, certainly the one that you have at the time can seem to be the worst. I’ve had two bouts of TE (one was a very lengthy case of CTE) and I’ve also had some lingering miniaturization as a result (which has resolved.) At the time though, it did feel like the beginning of AGA. All of these instances were very upsetting. As I was going through them, they ALL felt like the worst. When you’re right in the middle of TE, it does feel like it’s never going to end. And there are times when you can’t bear to take it another day and you fear that you’ll go bald. You tell yourself that at least with AGA, it would be gradual and just a little bit at a time.
However, people would argue that at least with TE, there is hope. Theoretically, barring any additional complications, it will one day end and you will have regular hair again. With AGA, this is a hereditary condition that can be ongoing and can get worse with time. However, AGA can be treated, and the outcome can be good – especially if you treat it early. I know people who have AGA and I only know it because they have told me, but I would not have known it to look at them. So having AGA does not mean that you will bald – or even have hair that looks thin – assuming that you have an effective treatment plan.
And even CTE DOES end one day, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. So with each condition, it isn’t all good or all bad. Most people would prefer to have TE because as dreadful as it is, if you can get through that period of time, there is a light at the end of the tunnel (although some people do suffer through multiple bouts of TE through their lives.) However, people with AGA can find light at the end of the tunnel also with proper treatment. And there are things that you can do to support yourself and make your hair look presentable with either condition. The bottom line is that whichever condition you have, you can often make it better and you can usually make it tolerable.
I know that this is no fun either way. As I said, I’ve had aspects of both type of hair loss. Along the way, I learned some tricks and tips that helped. You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/