Apr 19

I’m Losing 250 Hairs Per Day And Sometimes More. Is This Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman:  I often hear from folks who want to tell me how many hairs they are losing per day in the hopes that I can tell them which type of hair loss that they have.  People sometimes write about losing 100, 250, 350, or even up to 500 hairs per day.  I heard from someone who said: “I’m loosing around an average of 250 hairs per day.  The least I’ve lost since the shedding started was around 200.  The most I’ve lost has been around 500.  This is not just a little bit of shedding.  This isn’t the increase you notice in the summer during seasonal hair loss.  No, this is all out shedding and loosing hair all over my floor and on my clothing.  It’s constantly falling down and clogging the drains or littering the floors.  It’s an alarming amount of hair.  Is this telogen effluvium?  And, if so, when will it end? It’s been doing this for over six weeks.”

Although A Large Amount Of Shed Hairs Are Common With Telogen Effuvium, There Are Other Possibilities: Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to say if this woman had telogen effluvium.  I’m not a doctor or medical professional and I couldn’t see or examine her hair.  I can say that a high amount of loss like this can be indicative of telogen effluvium.  It’s commonly believed that people with androgen driven hair loss (like androgetic alopecia, also called AGA) don’t lose nearly this many hairs per day.  Rather, their loss is said to be much more slow.  This can be the case sometimes, but it’s not always the case.  Some people with AGA do shed high amounts of hair, at least some of the time.

There is also a condition called alopecia areata.  However, often the shedding in this condition is patchy rather than diffuse.  Sometimes, the hair loss with type of condition is so aggressive that it leads to total baldness.  Neither of these things appeared to be the case in this situation.

Is There A Trigger?: Other than a high amount of shedding, another hallmark of telogen effluvium is a trigger.  Generally, something happens in your life that places stress on your body.  Since hair growth is not necessary for survival, your hair will shed when the body is stressed in order to build reserves.  Examples of stressors are things like childbirth, dieting, illness, surgery, changing your medications, and severe emotional stress.  Look back in your life and see if you can find a stressor which became a trigger.  Or, ask yourself if it’s possible that you have a medical issue that might be an underlying trigger that you’ve not yet discovered.

The Bottom Line: At the end of the day, her high amount of shedding with the absence of excess androgens or patchy hair loss might have indicated that telogen effluvium was a likely cause of her loss.  But again, I am not a doctor.  If this was in fact telogen effluvium,  you can generally expect the loss to end before the end of six months.  If the hair loss goes on for longer than this, then you are looking at chronic telogen effluvium or another form of hair loss.  But try not to worry about that right now, as stress could make the loss worse.

I know first hand about stress and hair loss because I had CTE or chronic telogen effluvium more than once and I believe that stress was one of my triggers.  Once I successfully addressed my CTE,  I started seeing normal loss and 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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Apr 13

Why Is My Hair Still Shedding Four (4) Months Into Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who are beyond frustrated that their hair loss is still in full swing long after they hoped that it would end. Many times, they have read or been told that telogen effluvium lasts for around three months. But, several months later, they are still shedding and are wondering why.  I heard from someone who said: “my hair started shedding horribly when I changed birth control pills. I researched this and felt pretty sure that I had telogen effluvium. I also read that it generally lasts three months or less. Well, it has been over 4 months and I am still shedding as badly as when this whole thing started. Why? And when is it going to end?”

There are a couple of reasons why you might still be shedding 4 or more months after the telogen effluvium starts. I will discuss them below.

You Might Be Heading Into Chronic Telogen Effluvium Territory: It’s very common to read or to be told that the shedding should end within three months. But, technically, TE doesn’t become the chronic variety until it has gone on for six months or more. Once the 6 month point passes, then it is classified as chronic telogen and that can last for years. I have read of cases of CTE lasting for 7 years or more. Luckily, this is pretty rare.  The experiences that people have with this condition vary greatly.

You Might Have More Than One Trigger: Sometimes, one trigger kicks off the first round of shedding. (In this case, it was probably the birth control pills.) Then, it is possible for a whole new or second trigger to kick off a new round of shedding. Sometimes, the inflammation from the first bout of hair loss can be the trigger for the second bout of loss. This is just one example, but other triggers are certainly a possibility. I’ve even heard of the stress from the first round contributing to the second round.

It’s Possible That You Don’t Have Telogen Effluvium Or That Something Else Is At Play: It is possible that the first bout of shedding was caused by the change in medication but the current loss was due to other forms of hair loss like androgenetic alopecia. Sometimes, telogen effluvium gives way to other forms of hair loss. Another possibility is that there is now a medical condition or other reason for the hair loss that has nothing to do with the initial round of shedding.  It’s not all that uncommon for telogen effluvium to seemingly age your hair or scalp so that loss that would not have shown itself until years later shows up much earlier.

So what can you do if you are in this situation? You can look at your health, your life style, and your scalp to determine if there might be a new trigger, a medical issue, or the existence of androgenetic alopecia, which is the most common form of hair loss.  If you are looking at androgen driven loss, you might see other symptoms like an itchy scalp and more oil on your face and scalp.  You might also see regrowth that is coming in much more thin than your regular hair.

Finally, it’s possible that the hair loss will end soon and that you will never reach the level of CTE. The three month guideline is only that – a guideline. Unfortunately, hair loss doesn’t always follow a set time frame.

Believe me when I say that I know exactly what you are growing through.  I remember thinking that was going to be home free after a few months of shedding.  But unfortunately, it continued on and on until I finally found what was fueling my triggers and I finally learned how to manage it. If it helps, you can read the whole story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Apr 05

Does Sudden Unhappiness Or Stress Cause Severe Hair Loss Or Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who are grappling to come up with a cause for their sudden and problematic hair loss.  Sometimes, they literally wake up in the morning and notice hair shedding all over the place when only the day before, things were absolutely normal with their hair and their scalp.   And when the shedding doesn’t stop within a few days or weeks, the reason for the shedding can become quite important because it might give you some indication as to how long it might last or how you can slow or stop it. Sometimes, there hasn’t been illness or any health problems that would have caused this.  So, it’s normal to look for less common and less visible causes like things that might have a psychological or stress driven component.

I heard from a woman who said: “last month, my hair started shedding horribly.  I haven’t been ill, had a baby, or had any surgeries or medical procedures.  I haven’t changed my medications and I don’t have any health issues that I am aware of.  So, I’m not sure what might be causing this.  But I know it’s not just seasonal shedding because it is severe and it has lasted for more than five weeks.  I’m wondering if this could be caused by stress, sadness, or unhappiness.  Because two weeks before the shedding started, my fiancé and I broke up.  I was and still am devastated.  I wasn’t eating or sleeping properly.  Is it possible that the stress or the sadness from my break up could cause the shedding?.  Can hair loss be caused by a broken heart?” I will tell you my take on this in the following article.

My Opinion On Stress, Unhappiness, And Shedding Or Hair Loss: I have to stress that this is only my opinion.  I’m not a doctor, medical expert, or hair loss specialist.  But, I have been through bouts of telogen effluvium (TE) and chronic telogen effluvium (CTE) myself and I do believe that stress or strong emotions can cause hair loss.  I do realize that some folks, even experts, disagree with my opinion.  In fact, my own dermatologist told me that only physical (and not emotional) stressors to the body contribute to effluviums. In fact, many specialists believe this.

However, many people (particularly women) who have gone through this strongly disagree.  If you spend any amount of time on hair loss blogs or forums, I’m sure you will read people comment that stress makes their hair loss worse.  In fact, it’s not at all unusual for people to believe that stress or turmoil kicked off their shedding in the first place because there just doesn’t appear to be any other trigger.  But how is this possible?  I don’t have a definitive answer by I have some theories, which I’ll discuss now.

Stress releases hormones like cortisol.  And hormonal changes are a common cause of hair loss.  Also, often when you are stressed or upset, you don’t eat properly or regularly.  Dietary changes or sudden weight loss can contribute to hair loss.   Sometimes, your sleep is affected when you are unhappy or experiencing high amounts of turmoil.  This too can affect hormones which can cause hair loss.  And plenty of people believe that emotional stress takes a physical toll on the body.

So do I believe that your body can see or experience emotional stress in the same way that it does physical stress in terms of hair loss?  Yes, I do.  Mostly, I believe this based on my own experience and the experiences of others.  But I also believe that emotional changes can bring about physical changes in your body which are documented to cause hair loss.

My initial round of hair loss was caused by a medical trigger rather than by emotions. But stress always made it worse. And, later stress kicked off new rounds of shedding when I was already vulnerable. 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 copes. And it helps to always commit to looking for the trigger that may be the cause.  Because sometimes, if you can remove the trigger, the hair loss stops.  If it helps, you can read my story on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Mar 26

How Thin Will My Hair Get If I Have Telogen Effluvium (TE,) Chronic Telogen Effluvium (CTE,) Or AGA?

By: Ava Alderman: People whose hair has been shedding for quite a while or quite dramatically in a short period of time often try to do research as to what might be the cause. And once they rule out medical causes or seasonal shedding, they are often left thinking that they have either telogen effluvium, chronic telogen effluvium, or androgenic alopecia. Many people start out hoping that they have telogen effluvium or TE that passes very quickly. But sometimes as more and more time goes by, they start to get a sinking feeling that this may last for longer than they had hoped. Many start to become afraid that they may have longer term forms of hair loss like CTE or AGA. And then they start to wonder just how thin their hair is going to get if this is the case.

I heard from someone who said: “at first I thought I had seasonal shedding. Then I thought I had TE. But now I’m starting to think I might have CTE or even AGA because it’s been four months now and my shedding shows no sign of slowing down. My ponytail is only a fraction of what it used to be. I’m starting to wonder how thin my hair is really going to get. Are you going to be able to see my scalp? Will I have bald spots? Will I need to wear a wig?” I’ll try to address these questions as best as I can in the following article.

The Depth OF Hair Loss Can Vary From Person To Person And From Month To Month: I know from my own experience that it’s very common to count your hairs and then to try to get estimates further down the road. So, for example, you’d think something like: “I’m shedding about 250 hairs per day. Over the course of a month, that’s 7,500 hairs. In six months, that’s45,000 hairs. In a year, that’s 90,000 hairs. I’ll be bald by then and will need a wig.

I know that this is scary. But you can’t think of it this way. You aren’t likely to lose the exact same amount of hairs every single day. It’s likely there will be some days with improvement and some days that seem a little worse. But it’s the averages that count. Another thing to consider is that unless you have AGA and your ability to regrow hair is severely compromised, you will be regrowing hair as you are shedding it. So, people with telogen effluvium or even chronic telogen effluvium are much less likely to see bald spots or a lot of scalp than someone with AGA who doesn’t have the ability to regrow healthy hair, The reason for this is that because even as the shedding is happening, it is also regrowing and should be offering some scalp coverage. Granted, because the hair is new and short and needs to grow in, you’re not likely to see an increase in volume for quite some time.

A second thing to consider is that you don’t know when you might see this improve or even end. This woman had been shedding for 4 months, but to have a diagnosis of CTE, she had two more months to go. It was possible that next week or next month, the shedding would stop. Finally, keep in mind that we do normally shed some hairs, I know that it is hard to keep this in perspective when it seems as if you are raining hairs. In my own experience, I was sure that I was going to be bald in several months time. That didn’t come to pass even though I was shedding very aggressively for a long time until I began to find some things to improve my situation. I did get temples that very extremely thin. And, my part line widened but my scalp was never completely see through. I did use powder to help blend in my scalp because I became somewhat paranoid.

Don’t Assume The Worst Case Scenario: It might make you feel better when I tell you that many people don’t reach their worst case scenario. And I think it’s important that you don’t just accept that this is where you are heading. There is plenty that you can do to make your hair look presentable as you are going through this. You can also try to minimize inflammation and support regrowth. But to answer the question posed, I unfortunately couldn’t tell this woman how thin her hair would get because I wasn’t sure what type of hair loss she would have, I didn’t know how much longer her shedding would last, and I didn’t know what regimens she was going to try to address things. I could and did tell her that often, things don’t end up being as bad as you had feared and that stress and fear is thought to actually make the shedding worse. So trying to remain calm and being proactive can help.

Unfortunately, I know this because of experience. It took me a long time to determine what my triggers were and how to remove them.  It also took me a while to accept that there were things I could to in order to support myself and my hair during this process. If it helps, you can read my story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Mar 07

My Hair That Is Shedding And Coming Out Has Tapered Ends. What Does This Mean?

By: Ava Alderman: I get a good deal of questions from folks suffering from hair loss about shed hairs that have tapered ends. Questions about hair with tapered ends are as common as questions about shed hair with white bulbs at the root.  People often look at both sides of their shed hair for clues. And many people assume that the tapered ends and the white bulb can be significant in terms of indicating a cause of hair loss or the state of your recovery.

I heard from someone who said: “I know that this is going to sound weird, but I examine many of my shed hairs.  And I can’t help but notice that most of them are tapered on the end.  Why is that the side away from the bulb comes to kind of a tapered point?  What does this mean?  Does it mean anything in terms of why my hair is shedding or does it mean that I’m not recovering?”

There are a lot of theories on possible reasons for the tapered ends on shed hairs.  One possible reason is that the hairs with the tapered ends are hairs that have not yet been trimmed or cut.  When you go to your hair stylist and get a hair cut, the scissors will make the hair blunt on the ends where it has been cut.  So hair that has been cut (and is likely older hair) will not be tapered but will instead be blunt.

In this case, the person writing was saying that most of what she was seeing falling out were hairs that were tapered and this brings about another set of possibilities. She would need to ask herself if it had been a very long time since she had gotten a hair cut or if it was possible that she was experiencing hair loss conditions like chronic telogen effluvium (CTE) or androgenic alopecia (AGA) where she was cycling through new regrowth.

You see, when you have chronic teleogen effluvium or CTE, your hair can go through a few cycles where it is shedding, regrowing, and then shedding again before the trigger that started the hair loss is the first place is removed so that normal hair cycles can begin again.  So that is one possibility.

Another possibility is androgenic alopecia or AGA.  There’s a theory that the sebum that gets built up with this condition impedes the hair as it grows and so those pronounced tapered ends are evidence of that process.  Many describe these type of ends as almost having a little round bump on the end.  You can literally feel these if you run your hand down the shaft of your shed hair.  This looks (and feels) very different from tapered hair that has never been cut or even from the ends of hair that is being affected by telogen effluvium.

It may help to look at the length of these spent hairs.  If they are short, it’s likely that they are regrowth that is either cycling through due to shedding or your scalp isn’t able to sustain it’s regrowth (as is often the case with androgenic alopecia.)

Finally, here’s one final consideration.  Some hairs that have been affected by an autoimmune hair loss condition called alopecia areata produce what are called exclamation point hairs.  These hairs also have tapered ends, but I have to tell you that this disorder is relatively rare and often, the hair loss is patchy rather than diffuse.  So there can be many reasons for tapered ends including: hair that remains uncut; that is at the shedding part of it’s life cycle: or hair that is shedding prematurely due to different hair loss conditions.

If you’re noticing drastic shedding, ask yourself if you’ve had any recent triggers that may have kicked this off.  Or, do you have any other signs of excess androgens like greasy hair or skin?  Determining which type of hair loss I actually had was probably one of the biggest frustrations in my recovery.  If it it helps, you can read my story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Jan 05

How To Make AGA Hair Look Healthier

By: Ava Alderman:  I often hear from people who believe that they have androgenic alopecia and they are looking for easy, inexpensive and noninvasive ways to make their hair look more healthy and well, normal.  Often, AGA hair is a bit brittle, dry, and flyaway.  And, although it is tempting to use a lot of products to make your hair presentable, you have to be careful that you don’t use heavy products that are going to clog your pores or worsen the sebum process.   Below, I’ll offer some gentle tips on how to make your hair look better, healthier, and fuller if you have AGA.

Make Sure You Condition Your Hair, But Don’t Use Anything Heavy:  There’s no denying that hair affected by androgens can sometimes look dry.  I’ve had people tell me that they notice more shedding when they use conditioner or that the little amount of hair that they have looks weighed down when they use it, so many people are tempted to eliminate conditioner from their regimen.  I understand this and I even tried it when I myself had chronic telogen effluvium.  But it made my hair look worse and I ended up looking like I stuck my hair in a light socket.  It just wouldn’t behave without some sort of conditioning.

I suggest that you experiment with a very light weight, volume adding conditioner that works well for you.  For a while, I did suspect that the conditioner that I was using increased my shedding, so I started using a light weight spray in conditioner that I would use after shampooing and partially drying my hair. This worked well.

Figure Out Gentle Ways To Increase Volume:  One of the biggest concerns that people with androgenic alopecia often have about their hair is making it look more full and giving it more volume.  In short, they want to make it look like they have much more hair than they actually  do.  Some people have success with shampoos meant to add volume. Others have success drying or blow drying their hair upside down.  Here’s what I found that worked best for me.  When I would shampoo my hair, I would rinse it and then I would bend over at the waist and rinse it once again while I was standing upside down.  I would have a towel right beside the shower and I would put that hair right up in a towel so that it dried with the roots pointing up.  I would leave it in the towel for as long as I could and would let it dry that way if  possible.  That way, I’d have a lot of volume at the root but I wasn’t using any products and I wasn’t pulling or teasing.

Find Ways To Camouflage Your Scalp Or Consider Adding Curls Or Waves:  One of the major problems you might encounter when you have AGA is that your scalp shows through your hair.  This might be especially true if your hair is dark colored.  Some people use powders in the same color as their hair to put on their scalp to blend this in.  I’ve even heard of people dying or even tattooing their scalp.   I think it’s probably better to get a cut that can accomplish the same thing.  Sometimes adding curls or waves can help to raise the hair at the root and cover the scalp.

Make Sure Both Your Scalp And Your Hair Are Healthy:  People are often very reluctant to pay much attention to their scalp because they fear that this is going to make more hair fall out. I have people admit to me that they will skip washing or combing their hair because of this fear.  I believe this to be a bad idea.  Many people with AGA have scalp issues and a build up of sebum.  That’s why it’s so vital to keep your scalp very clean and stimulated and this includes washing and brushing.  This will in turn produce a healthier head of hair.  A healthy scalp will help to produce a much healthier head of hair because the roots will be nourished, which can only be beneficial.

Unfortunately I know this through experience. Because my telogen effluvium went on for so long, I sometimes thought I had AGA and I had to learn how to manage my hair loss and make my hair look presentable.  It was a long, hard, frustrating journey but I found things and people along the way that helped quite a bit. You can read my very personal story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Dec 14

Can Hair Dye Cause Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman: I recently had someone ask me if a reaction to hair dye could kick off TE or telogen effluvium.  She said in part: “my hair was doing just fine until I tried a new hair dye.  As soon as I put it on my scalp, it burned.  That same day, my hair started falling out.  And it has continued to shed for the past 3 months.  From the research that I have done, it appears to my that I might have telogen effluvium.  But everything that I read indicates that this condition is caused by internal changes in the body.  The hair dye would be an external change.   But I swear that there was nothing wrong with my hair or scalp before I dyed my hair.  Is it possible that the hair dye kicked off this massive shedding?”

I have to admit that my first inclination was to agree with this woman and  say that no, hair coloring can’t cause telogen effluvium since it is mostly caused by internal stress to the body like childbirth, stopping or starting medications, or crash diets.  When this happens, the hair follicles go into the resting or shedding phase.  And I wondered how using hair dye could inspire the same.  It didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

However, curiosity got the better of me and I did some research on this.  I found a 2001 study in which Italian dermatologists looked at this very issue. The doctors’ conclusion at the end of the study was that allergic contact dermatitis should be included in possible causes of TE as the result of hair dye.  In other words, the doctors felt that some of the women in the study had hair loss that was caused by an allergic reaction to the hair coloring.  (Remember that the woman in the above scenario felt a burning sensation as soon as the color came in contact with her scalp.)  The dermatologist suggested that perhaps that the inflammatory process from the allergic reaction might have triggered the shedding.  Now, this does make sense to me.   Inflammation is a phrase that comes up time and time again in literature concerning hair loss.  In fact, many people suffering from hair loss also have a condition known as “burning scalp syndrome” in which the scalp turns red or pink and becomes painful due to the inflammation that comes from those changing hair follicles that I just mentioned.  I suppose it is possible for this to also happen before the shedding starts.

So to answer the question posed,  most specialists will deny that hair dye can kick off a long round of shedding.  But a study that I found contradicted this line of thinking. Therefore, it’s my opinion that an allergic reaction to the dye (but not the dye itself) can contribute to shedding and hair loss in some people.  And frankly, at the end of the day, I’ve learned not to question any one’s hair loss.  If you are seeing troubling hair loss, that’s obvious evidence that something is going on and you likely do have a trigger somewhere.  You just have to find it.  And if you noticed the hair fall starting shortly after having a painful or bad experience with the color, then that makes a lot of sense to me.

It wasn’t hair dye that kicked off my telogen effluvium, but I have learned to be open about possible triggers, since different people tend to react to different things.  What is truly important is how you care for your scalp and your hair while you are going through the shedding.  I know that this process can make you feel helpless, but there are often ways that you can take at least some of the control back and begin to feel a little about yourself and your hair.  If it helps, you can read about my experiences with telogen effluvium on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Dec 08

Could I Have Something Internally Wrong That Is Causing Hair Loss?

By: Ava Alderman: I often hear from people who are having trouble determining the cause of their hair loss.  They often can’t see where anything is wrong on the outside.  I hear comments like: “my hair is shiny and healthy.  My scalp seems fine.  I don’t have any genetic or family history of thinning or baldness.  And yet I am shedding hair more and more all of the time.  Could there be some wrong internally that is causing my shedding?”

Before I answer, I have to tell you that I’m not a doctor.  I highly encourage you to see one.  I can tell you some internal issues that can cause hair loss, but should you suspect any of these issues, please see your doctor.

Yeast Issues: I have had many people with shedding tell me that they discovered that they had yeast overgrowth and once they got control over the situation, their hair loss improved.   Also, sometimes the yeast will also be present on the scalp which can cause further problems.   That’s why, anti dandruff shampoos can actually help to improve this situation for some.

Stress: Many specialists deny that stress can cause hair loss, but I do not completely buy this.  I know too many people who can pinpoint nothing other than stress as the trigger for their hair fall.   This is only my unscientific theory, but I’ve always wondered if the elevated cortisol associated with stress can aggravate or be a trigger for shedding.  Regardless of my theories, it’s relatively easy to try to cut down on your stress.  It’s noninvasive and it doesn’t cost anything, so it’s definitely worth a try.

Diet Or Supplements: Many times, if you drastically change your diet (like removing a lot of carbs, turning vegetarian, or loading up on protein) you might bring on a form of hair loss known as telogen effluvium as the result.   So, take a look at your lifestyle to see if you’ve made any changes to your diet that might be a culprit.  I’ve also had people tell me that they believe dietary supplements or vitamins have caused hair loss for them, particularly women who take supplements which can affect or alter their hormones.  Any change or addition to medications can cause shedding and many people don’t realize that supplements can bring out similar changes, especially when you start or stop them.

Medical Issues That Can Often Be Detected With Blood Work: There are many health issues that can cause hair loss.  Low iron, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid issues, endocrine disorders, and autoimmune driven illnesses can cause changes in your hair.  Your doctor can order blood work to see if any of these issues are likely based on your results.  If so, you can then go to a specialist for treatment.  But very often, blood work is the first step.

I hear from a lot of people who are discouraged that their doctor can not find the cause of their hair loss.  I do understand this because you figure if you could determine the cause, you could then also determine the appropriate treatment and end this nightmare once and for all.  However, it’s important to keep this in perspective.  If your blood work shows no medical issues, then you can then move on and start looking at other triggers.

I know that it can be very frustrating to know have a definitive answer as to what is causing your hair loss.  But, try not to give you prematurely.  You never know when the answers are right around the corner.   I almost gave up several times when I was trying to determine the cause of my hair loss.  Looking back now, I believe that I had more than one trigger,  which made things especially difficult.  But I eventually found answers, which would not have been possible if I had given up.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Dec 02

My Healthy Hair Is Suddenly Falling Out. Why?

By Ava Alderman: I often hear from people who have noticed sudden and severe hair loss but who have never had hair fall or scalp issues before.  I often hear comments like: “I have always had really healthy and pretty hair.   My hair is thick and long and I’ve always been very proud of it.  I take good care of my hair and scalp which is why I am stunned that suddenly it is falling out.  Every time I wash, brush, or comb it, I see a disturbing number of hair falling out.  Why could this be happening.  I’m very young and, as far as I know, I’m healthy.  I’ve had some seasonal shedding before, but it’s never been anything like this.  Why might this be happening?”

Quite often, determining the cause of your hair loss is a matter of ruling things out.  You can often do this with the help of your doctor.  However in the following article, I’ll offer some possibilities for sudden hair loss in otherwise healthy people who have never had prior hair loss issues.

Lifestyle Changes Can Sometimes Cause Hair Loss: Sometimes when you are otherwise healthy, you might have changed some medications or even vitamins or supplements.  Starting or stopping a medication regimen can cause temporary hair loss or shedding.  Dieting can as well. So can illnesses or stress.  There is a hair loss condition called telogen effluvium that occurs when something in your body changes and causes a larger percentage of your hair follicles to go into the resting phase.  Examples of things that can cause telogen effluvium are child birth, switching birth control pills, surgery, or drastic diets with sudden weight loss, to name only a few.

Scalp Issues Are A Possibility: Sometimes, people who have hair that looks perfectly healthy can also have scalp issues of which they may be unaware.  Common culprits are yeast and bacteria infections, psoriasis, or allergic reactions.  However, with these conditions, you will often see some changes in your scalp.  It might be red or pink.  There might be pain or scaling.  You may notice some itching or tingling. It’s rare to have a scalp condition so severe that it causes hair loss without noticing some changes with your scalp.  With that said, sometimes severe telogen effluvium can cause some scalp discomfort because of all of the hair follicles changing cycles.

Autoimmune Disorders: There is a hair disorder called alopecia areata that is autoimmune in nature which also causes sudden and severe hair loss.  There are also other autoimmune disorders that can be associated with shedding or hair loss.  Some examples are thyroid disorders (like graves disease or hyperthyroidism  or hypothyroidism,)  lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis .   As with the scalp examples above, many of the autoimmune disorders exhibit other symptoms in addition to the hair loss.

Seasonal Shedding: I know that many people discount seasonal shedding, but sometimes it really can be quite severe.  The good news is that this type of shedding is often over very quickly, meaning you might shed just a couple days up to a week or two.  If you’re seeing shedding that is lasting for much longer than this, then the chances of it being seasonal shedding decrease.

Androgenic Alopecia: Most people consider androgenic alopecia ( or AGA) or genetic thinning or balding as sort of a slow and gradual form of hair loss.  Most think that if you have AGA, you lose much less hair than if you had TE, but the little you do lose doesn’t grow back properly which leads to permanent and noticeable hair loss.  This can be accurate sometimes.  Many folks with AGA don’t notice so much hair that it’s clogging their shower drain or raining down all over their clothes.  But over time, they notice their hair thinning.  However, there are some who will see  severe hair loss when AGA starts.  Since AGA is by far the most common type of hair loss, it’s not uncommon to see it present itself in multiple ways.

I got my first round of hair loss after the birth of my first child and this kicked off a long, painful period of time where the hair loss continued for much longer than it should have.  Looking back now, I believe that I had more than one trigger, but I was not aware of that at the time. Once I addressed this, I started seeing more normal hair fall 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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Nov 15

How Do I Know If My TE (Telogen Effluvium) Shedding Has Stopped For Good?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who are desperately hoping that their excessive hair shedding (which they suspect is TE or telogen effluvium) is finally coming to an end. Usually, the first thing that they notice is that not as much hair is coming out when they wash it. Next, they might see less shed hair on their clothing. Some see regrowth, but many do not. Sometimes, though, just as they get their hopes up that the decrease in shedding hair means that their TE is slowing down or getting ready to end, suddenly it will kick up again.

I heard from someone who said: “I admit that I count my shed hairs. While my telogen effluvium was in full swing, I was loosing at least 200 hairs per day, sometimes more. For the last couple of days, I’ve only been shedding about 100. I was hoping that this meant this nightmare was coming to an end. But then this morning when I showed, 175 hairs came out. Does this mean that my shedding isn’t over? How do you know when your telogen effluvium is over once and for all?” I’ll try to answer these questions in the following article.

While There’s Very Little Clinical Information Available, The More “Normal” Days You See Over A Longer Period Of Time, The Better The Chances Are That Your Shedding Is Coming To An End: If you’ve tried to research this topic, you probably already know that there’s not a lot of information out there. And this lack of information can lead you to believe to believe that the shedding should stop abruptly. Many people hope that they wake up one morning to find normal shedding that continues on from that day forward. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the way that it happens. Often, you will see sporadic shedding that goes up and down before it normalizes completely.

Your Follicles Probably Didn’t Go Into The Shedding Phase All At Once, So They May not Go Into The Growing Phase All At Once: Think about what happens to start the shedding in the first place. Typically some trigger (stress, medications, injury, etc) causes many of your hair follicles to go into the resting or shedding phase all at once. Normally, this is staggered so that only a small percentage of follicles are resting or shedding at one time. But, when you have TE, this process is not staggered and you have many more follicles than normal shedding out hair strands. This may not happen on the same day, though. It may happen over a course of weeks or days. That’s why recovery can be gradual as well. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t celebrate or be happy when you notice a day that gives you relief.  Likewise, you shouldn’t be crushed if your shedding fluctuates a little.

So, Is There Any Well To Tell When Your Shedding Has Officially Ended?: I think the answer is different for everyone. Some people aren’t going to be happy until they see many days in a row when their shedding is absolutely normal. And others are happy with any improvement. And because it can be normal to have peaks and valleys in this process, to be on the safe side, most people consider your TE over if you’ve had normal hair shedding for three months or so. And the truth is, once your shedding begins to get better, you no longer feel compelled to keep track of the number of shed hairs or the days during which this is happening nearly as much so you may lose track anyway.

I can remember when I had chronic telogen effluvium, I used to rejoice if I showed any decrease in shed.  But then I would mourn when the shed would kick back up.  Eventually, as I began to understand how to address my hair loss, I saw many more good days than bad days.  But I still had my ups and downs until I recovered and then I didn’t worry about it nearly as much anymore.  If it helps, you can read my very personal story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

 

The bottom line for me is that any time you see improvement, you should be encouraged. With that said, it’s normal to see an improvement followed by an increase in shedding once again. And this doesn’t always mean that your TE is starting all over again. Seasonal or stray shedding for a day or two can be perfectly normal. But if you’ve seen “normal” ranges over the course of several days or a few months, then that’s a good indication that your shedding is in the beginning phases of being over.

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