Jun 07

Does Telogen Effluvium Cause Hair To Break Off Or Split?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who are noticing a lot of broken hairs coming out. Often, they also see very dry or flyaway hair with the presence of split ends. I heard from a woman who said: “I’ve been noticing a lot of fallen hair on my clothing. But, when I examine the hairs very closely, there isn’t a root on the end. So, I think that the hairs are breaking off. I have a friend who went through a bout of hair loss last year and she says that perhaps I have telogen effluvium. I did some research online and I’m not sure if this is correct? I’m not sure if this type of hair loss causes breakage in addition to hair fall.” I will try to address this concern in the following article.

Hair That Falls Due To Telogen Effluvium Sheds Out From The Root. It Usually Doesn’t Break Off. (Although You Can Have Some Breakage:) I’d like to clarify what happens to a hair when it is affected from this type of hair loss.  Essentially, something makes it change where it is in its growth cycle. This may be stress or some medical issue or illness.  But true TE changes hair from the growth phase to the shedding phase.  And, as a result, that same hair sheds out.  What this means is that the root is no longer becoming nourished in the growth phase so the next part of its life cycle is to fall out.  That’s why you can typically look at this type of hair and see a root, a white bulb, or a dark sheath around either one of these.

What the woman in the above scenario was describing was something different.  She wasn’t seeing any evidence of a root.  She was seeing broken hairs which meant that the roots were probably still in tact and her affected hairs were likely still in the growing phase which is not indicative of telogen effluvium. There are other possibilities though.  Often, you will see this type of breakage with some sort of damaging grooming practice like hot irons, or very harsh chemical processes like hair straightening, perming, coloring, or keratin treatments.   Anything that you can make your hair dry or brittle can cause this type of breakage or fall.

Now, here is where it can get a little confusing.  Sometimes, when you have telogen effluvium, your hair can become dry and flyaway since it’s no longer being actively nourished.  And when this happens, some of those hairs can break off.  So, it is definitely possible to see some spent hairs that have roots and some that do not.  In this case, you would have a combination of two different processes.  However, if you have this type of shedding hair loss, you would see a good deal of hair with roots and you would typically be talking about a large amount of hair that is coming out.  Generally speaking, if there’s a lot of hair, most of what you are seeing has a bulb or root, and you can identify a medical issue or trigger, then telogen effluvium is certainly possible.  But, if you don’t have a trigger and you are seeing a smaller amount of broken hairs, then think about whether you’ve participated in anything that could dry out or damage your hair.  Because to answer the question posed, although TE hair can sometimes break off, you generally see this more with hair that has been damaged by a harsh high temperature or chemical process.

I did have some breakage when I had telogen effluvium. However, most of the strands that were falling had roots attached, even if they were also dry and brittle.  It wasn’t until I addressed my trigger and the health of my hair that I began to see some improvement. If it helps, you can my story on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/.

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May 23

Can Cutting your Hair Stop Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who notice that their shedding from telogen effluvium improves after they get a hair cut.  Often, they are quite encouraged by this and they wonder if more cutting would help the situation even more.  I heard from a woman who said: “I have been shedding for four and a half months.  I had put off getting my hair trimmed because any time I even touch my hair, it sheds.  So I didn’t want to be embarrassed by tons of hair coming out in the stylist’s hands.  However, my hair got so shaggy that I just could not put it off anymore.  Unbelievably, when I cut my hair, I had almost zero shedding for the next three days and this was only for a trim.  So I’m wondering what would happen if I got a real cut and took off quite a bit of length.  Would this type of drastic hair cut stop my telogen effluvium?”

I can only tell you my opinion about this, which I’ve seen proven correct many times.  It’s very common for your hair loss to get better after you color and cut your hair.  Why? Because when we are shedding so badly, we develop the habit of handling our hair extremely carefully.  We learn to wash it especially gently and we take special care when we brush or groom it.  However, our stylist doesn’t take this type of care.  So, it’s probable that a lot of hair comes out when she is cutting and styling it.  (And we usually do not see this because we don’t have eyes in the backs of our heads.)

Because of all of the hair fall at our appointment, we have a reprieve in the days following this.  Sometimes, this lasts for a week or so.  But typically, no matter how short we cut our hair, the shedding resumes (unless the telogen effluvium resolves internally, which is possible.)  The reason for this is that, other than cutting your hair, you haven’t made any changes that would affect your shedding.  And cutting your hair only affects it externally.   Telogen effluvium typically only stops when it has finished it’s cycle.  What this means is that once you start to shed, your hair cycle goes from growing to shedding.  And likewise, the shedding stops once your cycle switches back to growing again.  This happens internally.  And nothing that you do externally affects this process.  Cutting your hair can certainly help your hair’s appearance and as I said it can give you a break from the shedding.  But, unless you just coincidentally get your hair cut on the day that your shedding resolved itself and went back into the growing phrase, you aren’t likely to see it stop just because you got a hair cut.

With all of this said, the woman in the above scenario had been shedding for four and a half months.  Telogen effluvium is said to resolve itself after three months.  So, it was possible that she had another type of hair loss happening.  So while cutting her hair could provide her with some relief, it wasn’t likely to stop the shedding until either her hair resumed it’s normal cycles or until she identified the reason that she was really losing hair.  But there’s nothing wrong with cutting your hair if you think that it will look better.  Frankly, shorter hair can be easier to deal with when you are shedding because it takes up less room on your clothing and furniture.

How do I know all of this? Because I lived it. I knew that the number of hairs that I was losing every time I touched or styled it was way too much. But many assured me that everything was normal while my hair continued to fall. In the end, it was a stylist who helped me discover what was wrong. You can read my story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/.

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May 07

Brittle Or Fly Away Hair And Chronic Telogen Effluvium: What’s The Connection?

By: Ava Alderman:  I often hear from people with long term or chronic telogen effluvium who can’t help but notice a troubling change of texture in their hair.  Often, they describe their hair and brittle, dry, or flyaway and they want to know what they can do to make it look better.  I heard from someone who said: “my hair has been shedding horribly for about seven months.  I’m pretty sure that I have chronic telogen effluvium because my hair started shedding after I lost a lot of weight.  My hair has become very dry, brittle and fly away.  What is causing this texture? And what can I do about it?”  I will try to address these questions in the following article.

Why Hair That Is Shedding Can Take On A New And Undesirable Texture:  The most common reason that hair takes on an odd, dry or flyaway texture when it is shedding is because it is going into the “resting” or shedding phase of its life cycle.  You may already know this, but please bear with me.  Hair has different phases throughout its life cycle as follows: the anagen or growth phase; the catagen or transitional phase (where its neither growing nor shedding;) and the telogen or resting phase (where it is most definitely shedding.)  This is the phase where hair sheds out to make room for new hairs.  So hair in the late part of the telogen phase can become drier because it’s not as deeply embedded into the scalp and isn’t being actively nourished.  (It doesn’t need to be since it will soon be falling out.)

However, when you have telogen effluvium (or the chronic variety,) you have many more hairs than normal in that resting phase and this means that you will have many more hairs than normal that aren’t getting actively nourished.  So your hair’s overall appearance can be brittle or dry even if not every hair on your head meets that description. There are other things that might contribute to this also.  Some hair loss treatments will very aggressively dry out your scalp and your hair.  Some of these topicals have anti androgen components that are meant to rid your scalp or excess oil and sebum.  And while they can do a good job of this, the result can often be that the product is almost over drying to your scalp and to your hair.

What Can You Do About The Fly Away Or Brittle Hair:  There are a couple of tricks that I can offer you.  If your hair is long, allow it to dry either in a ponytail or twisted in a towel if the ponytail pulls out too much hair.  Allowing your hair to dry pulled back will often help it behave much better when it is dry.  Also, you can use gel to tame those fly away hairs or even spray on conditioner which is very light weight.  Finally, if it you can’t even stand the look of the hair, wear it up or pulled back so that it stays tame.  Also, sometimes wearing it wavy or curly will hep to camouflage some of the unruliness or dryness.  Finally, I’ve found that putting a little coconut or emu oil on your hands and smoothing it over the fly aways can help quite a bit.  You just have to be very careful to use a very small amount or your hair could look oily.  Also, try not to get too much oil on your scalp as you don’t want to clog your follicles.

Unfortunately, I know some of these tricks from my own experience.  I shed for much longer than was normal, but I finally found something that helped quite a bit. You can read more of that story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/.

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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 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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