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/