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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Nov 02

Will Oiling My Scalp Stop My Hair From Falling Out? Will It Help My TE?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from folks who are looking for natural, inexpensive, and non invasive ways to help with their hair shedding. One possibility that sometimes comes up is oiling one’s scalp. This generally involves using a carrier oil (coconut, olive, jojoba, emu, tea tree oil or others) massaged into the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles and to promote hair regrowth.

I recently heard from someone who said: “my hair has been shedding horribly for about six weeks. Not only is my hair falling out, but my scalp is sore and itchy. On a hair loss forum, I read about a suggestion for using tea tree or emu oil to soothe your scalp. I also read that these oils sometimes help with hair loss and shedding. So my question is would oiling my scalp help with what I think is telogen effluvium? Or would it just soothe my sore scalp? And does it make your hair look greasy?”

There was no way for me to predict the future or the outcome when this person oiled their scalp, but I certainly have a theory, which I’ll explain now.

Why People Typically Oil Their Scalp: Usually scalp oiling is done when people have a dry, itchy or damaged scalp. This is sometimes due to using very hot curling or flat irons. Or it can be due to some sort of allergic reaction to products. Many believe that messaging oil into your scalp can help to heal or soothe your scalp while also stimulating your hair follicles and encouraging growth. You read a lot about hair oiling in ethnic or long hair communities and forums. Some swear by this practice because it has made their scalp and hair healthier and others find that it causes their hair to become oily and weighed down. In my observation, those who get the best results from oiling have been suffering from some sort of severe or scaring alopecia because of severe damage to their scalp, but I’m sure there are probably some exceptions.

Can Scalp Oiling Help With Hair Shedding Or Telogen Effluvium?: In my experience, the people who have some success with hair oiling (at least as it relates to shedding) are those who are shedding as the direct result of poor scalp health or severe scalp damage. These are usually folks who have a scalp that is so wounded and damaged that it just isn’t able to support healthy hair growth. So, their shedding and hair loss is directly related to the poor condition of their scalp. Since the oil provides moisture, healing, and relief, the shedding improves a little as their scalp begins to heal.

However, telogen effluvium (a common form of shedding that usually comes before you notice any issues with your scalp) is usually a completely separate issue. Usually, the trigger is there before the scalp begins to have problems. In other words, a person with telogen effluvium may well have a sore or problematic scalp, but this usually happens after the shedding begins, not before it. Many people have a troubled scalp as the result of TE, but those same troubles are not the cause of the shedding. Telogen effluvium is usually caused by stress or changes to the body. Examples are illness, hormonal issues, or severe psychological stress. Now, there are types of scaring alopecia that are related to your scalp and, in these cases, oiling your scalp can help with the shedding if the oil heals your scalp.

However, if you are shedding because of some type of non scarring alopecia (like telogen effluvium,) scalp oiling my help to relive some of your discomfort and it can also stimulate regrowth, which are both positive things. But often, this type of shedding ends because the trigger (or stress) has been removed or enough time has passed for your hair cycles can reset themselves.

One more point, be careful what type of oil you use and how much of it you apply. The last thing you want to do is to clog or compromise your hair follicles and make your already shedding hair look limp or oily.

I did try oiling my scalp when I had chronic telogen effluvium.  Since my TE didn’t have much to do with my scalp, I didn’t see much of an improvement in terms of how much hair was shedding.  But it did make my scalp less tight and painful.  At the end of the day though, I had to figure out why I was losing hair to really fix the problem. It was a long, hard, frustrating journey but I finally found something that helped quite a bit. You can read the whole story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

 

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Oct 28

Are There Any Good Products For Telogen Effluvium (TE)?

By Ava Alderman: People often contact me looking for recommendations for products that address or help telogen effluvium (TE.) People are looking for a shampoo, vitamin, topical, treatment, or other concoction that is going to stop the shedding and help with regrowth. I will admit that when I had CTE (the chronic version of this shedding that lasts for longer than 6 months,) I had a whole shelf full of products that I bought with high hopes and later abandoned or discarded because they didn’t even begin to live up to their claims.

I don’t mean to imply that the manufacturers of these products misrepresent their goods or lie about their claims. Rather, I think that since the cause of TE can be different for everyone, finding a product that addresses such a wide range of issues is extremely difficult.

For example, many people have TE because of a shock their body. Many have recent issues like giving birth, hormonal changes, stress, an illness, or a surgery. Because of these changes, the person’s many hair follicles have reset themselves and have gone into the shedding or resting phase. Your body does this to reserve its stores. Hair is not necessary for survival. And unfortunately, there is no product that is going to make your body put your follicles back into the growing mode before it is ready to do so (which is what is necessary to stop the shedding.) In fact, only time or removing the trigger that caused the TE in the first place can do that.

Likewise, if your TE is due to a medical issue (like an autoimmune or endocrine disorder,) a shampoo or topical isn’t going to do anything to address those problems, which are internal. And sometimes, once you get your health under control, your hair will respond.

The exception to this is shedding or TE that is the direct result of AGA or androgenic alopecia (which many experts will tell you represents approximately 90 percent of hair loss.) If your TE is influenced by androgens, then there are plenty of good anti androgen shampoos, topicals, and supplements. Many people ask me if there is any harm in trying these products to see if (or how) they will respond. The assumption if that if they do, they can assume that they have AGA.

The risk with this is that sometimes, the AGA treatments affect your hormones. And if you are hormonally sensitive (as are many people with TE are,) then this could actually make your shedding worse. Often, people who have androgen issues show symptoms in other areas (like oily skin, an itchy scalp, large pores, and excess sebum, etc.) If you are confused about this, then please discuss it with your doctor because I am certainly not one. I’m just writing from my own research and experience.

To me, when you have TE, your best bet is to keep your scalp clean and free of sebum, debris, and waxy build up. It’s never a bad idea to support healthy regrowth. But know that often, ending TE means addressing and getting rid of the condition that started it in the first place. Often, products are not able to do that, although they can keep your scalp clean and support regrowth as I’ve mentioned.

As I alluded to, I know this from my own experience with CTE.   In my quest to end my hair loss, I looked at my various shedding triggers and tried all types of products.  Some made my hair look better and made it easier to style, but they didn’t stop my hair loss.  I finally found some things that helped quite a bit, but they weren’t the commercially available products I had been trying.   If it helps, you can read a very personal story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/.

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Oct 24

Is Hair Loss Supposed To Come With A Sore Scalp? Is Something Wrong With Me?

By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who are dealing with sudden and severe hair loss. One day, they wake up and notice tons of hair falling onto their clothing, or coming out in their comb, or clogging up the shower drain. As if this isn’t bad enough, sometimes they experience pain in their scalp during this process. They are often left wondering if there is some medical issue that is the root cause of this.

I recently heard from someone who said: “I woke up this weekend and there was tons of hair on my pillow. When I showered and washed my hair, lots more came out. I was hoping that things would be back to normal in a day or two, but this hasn’t been the case. Not only is the shedding as bad as ever, for the last few days, my scalp has been so sore.  It almost throbs like a heart beat. I’ve had seasonal shedding before, but it was always over quickly and  it’s never caused me to have a sore scalp. Could this be the result of a medical issue that I need to be worried about? Could there be something wrong with me?”

I’m certainly not a doctor, and if you have medical concerns, you should certainly see one. But I can tell you that sometimes with a hair shedding condition called telogen effluvium (TE,) it’s not uncommon to have an accompanying sore scalp. This can happen for a couple of reasons. First, when you have TE, many of your hair follicles go into the resting or shedding phase of their life cycle at one time. This is not the normal way that things work in a normal head of hair. When your hair is shedding normally and going through its typical cycle, only around 5 percent of your total strands are in this shedding phase at one time. But when you have TE, many more can shift into the shedding phase – which means many are going to call out at once. This process can cause inflammation. As the result of this, you can have that sore scalp that we have been talking about.

Now, with that said, there are medical issues that can have shedding hair and as sore scalp as symptoms.  Once again, I am not a doctor, but just some examples are thyroid,  endocrine, or autoimmune issues, to name only a few. As I said before, if you think that you could have a medical problem, please address this with your doctor.  Telogen effluvium (TE) is not always the result of an illness. It can also be due to stress, hormonal changes, weight loss, anesthesia, or giving birth.  As you can see, in these cases, there is really nothing medically wrong.  But your body has gone through changes that have reset your hair cycle.

How To Soothe Your Sore Scalp: Dandruff shampoos can help to knock back some of the inflammation and ease the pain somewhat. Aloe vera juice dropped onto your scalp with an eye dropper can be quite soothing. Tea tree and emu oils are also popular choices. Just be careful that anything you chose isn’t thick enough to clog your hair follicles.

People often ask me how long they are going to have to tolerate the sore scalp. There’s no easy answer to this. Sometimes, you continue to have scalp issues while the shedding and hair loss continues and sometimes, you only see it in the early phases of the TE. Unfortunately, some people who have chronic telogen effluvium (the type that lasts for longer than 3 months) seem to have the highest instances of scalp pain, but this is just my unscientific observation. For many, the scalp issues are a passing thing that ends right along with the TE. And for others, it becomes a reoccurring problem.

How do I know all of this? Because I lived it. In my quest to end my hair loss, I looked at my shedding triggers and my scalp health. It was a long, hard, frustrating journey which all but wrecked my self esteem but I finally found something that helped quite a bit. You can read that very personal story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Oct 13

How To Handle Wet Hair When You Have Telogen Effluvium (TE)

By: Ava Alderman: A lot of the emails that I get from folks who are struggling with telogen effluvium ask questions about the best way to deal with shedding hair when it is wet. When we get right out of the shower or are done with washing and conditioning our hair, this is when we would comb or style it if it was healthy and wasn’t shedding. But, when you have TE, combing wet hair might mean that tons of it falls out.

But, if you don’t comb it, it can dry in a very non flattering way. Meaning it can be unmanageable, flyaway, or be lacking in any decent style. I recently heard from someone who said “my hair is pretty long and I’ve had telogen effluvium for about four months. After I very carefully wash my hair, I’m not sure what to do. Because every time I comb or brush my wet hair, I find that so much more falls out. This makes me not want to manipulate or touch my hair. But if I just let it dry, I have unruly strands of hair going everywhere. How can I style my hair when it’s wet if so much more of it falls out every time I touch it? When I wait for it to dry, it’s too unmanageable.” I will try to address these concerns in the following article.

I came up with a regimen that worked pretty well for me when I had CTE (chronic telogen effluvium) and I will share it with you now. When your hair is shedding, it’s very important that you don’t pull or over manipulate it. As you probably already know, just touching your hair will make it more likely to fall out. And, from a psychological standpoint, it’s important to avoid this as much as possible.

In my case, I would gently pat my hair dry as best as I could. I would avoid combing or brushing my hair until it was completely dry (and I would only do this as needed.) I would add leave in spray conditioner to my hair to make it easier to manage. (Be careful that this is a light weight conditioner so that your hair doesn’t look greasy.) I would then sort of very gently run my hands along the shaft of my hair to make it lay down nicely. I would then lay that same hair in a towel and put it on top of my head to dry. The act of putting the hair up in the towel would add volume. And gathering it together first would help to keep it from becoming wild and flyaway. I would leave my hair to dry in the towel for as long as possible. On a good day, I could let me hair completely dry before I took it down. If that wasn’t possible, I would blow dry my hair through the towel and then take it down once it was dry.

Now, once I took my hair out of the towel, it wouldn’t look too bad and the hairs that would’ve fallen would be collected in the towel, saving me the hassle of having to pick the spent hair off of my clothes. Of course, there would be some flyaway hair so I would either smooth them down with my hands, fingers, or if necessary a wide toothed comb. This type of comb is very important because it doesn’t pull nearly as much. When my hair was shedding very badly, I had to avoid curling irons or rollers because it just made more hair fall out. But this towel method allowed me some volume and style. And if I wanted wavy hair, I would gently turn the hair I gathered (sort of like a pony tail) and I would twist it gently prior to putting it in the towel. This would create some loose waves.

The important thing is to not pull on wet hair. This isn’t a good idea when your scalp and hair is healthy and isn’t shedding, but it’s a horrible idea when it is or when you have TE. Seeing your hair shed is bad enough but accidentally pulling more of it out can be nearly unbearable. That’s why it’s important to treat your hair very gently but to manipulate it in a way that it will look nice once it dries so that it won’t require much work to get it to style or look nice.

I hope that article helped a little. I know how devastating living with TE can be. I lived with it for way too long until I finally got serious about addressing the root cause rather than just managing or camouflager it. If it helps, you can read my very personal story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/.

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