Oct 18

I Feel So Ugly Because Of My Telogen Effluvium. Tips That Might Help.

By: Ava Alderman: It’s very normal to be overly self conscious when you are struggling with hair loss or with shedding from conditions like telogen effluvium.  I know from experience that you are often worried that everyone is looking at you and wondering what is going on with your hair.  You might imagine that people are staring at thin areas or are noticing your experimentation with different styles and camouflage.  Some people are better able to deal with this than others.  Some take it all in stride, while others experience quite a bit of distress over it.

In fact, some people will become so affected by this process that they will feel bad about their appearance and consider themselves ugly.  Needless to say, this makes a bad situation worse.

Someone might say: “I have always been pretty comfortable with my appearance until now. I’m honestly not a vain person.  I would be perfectly content with looking merely normal.  I have always had pretty hair.  I used to get compliments on it.  But then I got telogen effluvium when I switched birth control pills.  My doctor assured me that the shedding would stop in weeks. But months went by.  He told me that three months was the mean duration of telogen effluvium.  I am at four months.  And although my shedding is sometimes better, I’m still losing more hair than normal and my hair looks absolutely awful.  It used to be shiny and now it is dry and dull.  Because I couldn’t take the long hairs anymore, I cut it short. Well, I look totally awful with short hair.  And the short length just showcases how thin my hair is.  At least before I could put in a ponytail. Now it is too short for that.  I always worry about bald spots.  I always think that people are starring at it.  I feel that it’s more noticeable than before.  And I never thought that this would be possible.  And now, for the first time in my life, I feel ugly.  I don’t want to go out nearly as much.  I don’t participate in life nearly as much.  Because I don’t have the confidence that I once had.  How do I get that confidence back?  Because I am very tired of living like this.”

I am so sorry that you are going through this.  I have been where you are.  I know how you feel.  And I am going to share some things that helped me to get through it.  First of all, telogen effluvium eventually ends.  Now, some of us get the chronic variety which means that it does not always end as soon as we want it to.  But if we are able to look on the bright side, we can realize that at least telogen effluvium means that our follicles should not be damaged — so that when we get over this, we should be able to go right back to producing the healthy hair we have always had.  Yes, it may take a while and that stinks.  But it should also happen eventually.

I know that you are self conscious about your short hair.  (I didn’t like my short hair experiment, either.)  Try to grow it out in a blunt bob.  I found that to be the best cut for making your hair look more thick.  I also want you to be aware that sometimes, when we go through something as traumatic as this, we lose perspective a bit.  I could not stop complaining about how hideous my hair was when I had CTE and yet, when I look back at pictures from that time, it is not as bad as I remembered.  Does my hair look different?  Yes.  Is it more thin?  Absolutely.  But it is not so bad that people were going to recoil in horror as I remembered it. And I think it’s possible that the same is true here.  We have a tendency to think the worst.

I found it helpful to make the most of what I could.  I played up my eyes. I worked out and developed ripped arms, which I enjoyed showing off.  I played up my fit body and best features and tried to take the attention off of my hair.  There are also colored powders just for hair to cover any bald spots.

And make no mistake.  There are MANY beautiful women who have short hair.  Think Halle Berry.  Or Courtney Cox when her hair was short.  Many of us tend to identify strongly with our hair.  So when it is taken away, we struggle.  But there is more to us than that.  I know you have other attributes that you can play up while you’re waiting for your hair to grow back.  And with TE, it SHOULD grow back. Always remember that.  It isn’t gone forever.  You just have to make the best of the waiting game while you’re dealing with it.

I know that it’s not easy.  But focus on what you can – encouraging healthy regrowth and discouraging inflammation.  I look back now at the all the time and turmoil I wasted on my hair.  Those were months that I will never get back.  My hair is back to a relatively normal situation now, but all the worry and distress didn’t do one thing to make it end any sooner.  In fact, it probably delayed it.  You can read more about my own recovery on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Oct 06

What Causes Your Scalp To Itch With Shedding Or Telogen Effluvium? Is This DHT?

By: Ava Alderman:  I hear from a good amount of people who are not only shedding hair, but who are also having scalp issues.  Many of them notice a tight, itchy scalp and they do not understand why.  Some of them have never had dandruff or any itching before.  So they can correlate the scalp problem as occurring shortly after the hair shedding started.  They know that the two must be connected, but they don’t know why.

Someone might say: “ever since my hair started shedding badly, my scalp has itched.  I don’t notice any flaking, so I don’t think that it is dandruff.  But it’s really bad.  It’s hard not to notice it all of the time.  Scratching really doesn’t make it any better.  I try not to be obvious with the scratching, but last night my husband asked me if I had fleas. He was only joking, but this means that the scratching is obviously noticeable. Why is this happening?  I’ve read that your scalp can itch with hair loss from DHT.  Is that what is it is? My doctor thinks that I have telogen effluvium.”

In cases of telogen effluvium, the most common cause for the itch (at least in my experience and observation) is inflammation and irritation.  Except for when you’re experiencing telogen effluvium or a severe summer shed, it’s just not normal for so many of your hair follicles to go into shedding mode all at once.  Normally, you may have less than ten percent of hair in this mode.  So when the hair sheds out during a normal cycle, you don’t notice it much or feel any discomfort in your scalp.  But when this is magnified by five times or more (as is the case with TE,) than you most definitely do notice it and you can sometimes see evidence of it on your scalp, which can become irritated and inflamed.

Another reason for the itching is regrowth.  Since you probably have many more follicles growing hair than normal, this can create some tightness, tingling, or itching as the hair begins to fill in.

The inflammation and tightness can often be helped with a little tea tree oil or the commercially available product scalpacin (at least it gave relief in my experience.)  And frankly, even if dandruff is not a problem and never has been, many people with TE get some relief using dandruff shampoo simply because it kicks back inflammation.

As far as DHT goes, if you truly have TE, DHT really should not be the cause of your itching.  However, there is another type of hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) where DHT is most definitely an issue. The scalp becomes overly sensitive to this androgen and the follicles shrink as a result – causing hair loss, and eventually, miniaturization.  This process can cause itching and discomfort also.

But people with TE typically don’t have hair loss caused by androgen sensitivity.  Their hair loss and shedding is caused by stress or change to the body or illness.  It’s important to understand the difference between the two and to differentiate which type you have.  AGA and miniaturization can be addressed if treated early.  But since TE doesn’t permanently affect the follicles and doesn’t include the DHT sensitivity, it’s more likely that the itching isn’t from DHT if you are dealing with telogen effluvium.  It’s most likely from inflammation, irritation, or regrowth. Sometimes, you can have all three going at once, which can be a challenge.  It took me a while to get a handle on my inflammation, but I had CTE (chronic telogen effluvium.)  I often wonder if I would not have developed the chronic variety if I had gotten the inflammation under control earlier.  But I did not know then what I know now. You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Sep 29

Is It Possible For Telogen Effluvium To Reoccur Every Couple of Years?

By: Ava Alderman:  Most of the correspondence that I receive comes from people who are just starting to struggle with hair loss.  The process is new to them and they are scared.  Occasionally though, I hear from people for whom the process is pretty familiar and old, and they are also scared.

I hear from them because although their hair loss has both started and stopped (and then started again,) this tends to be a reoccurring theme in their life lately.  They’ll have a bout of telogen effluvium, have it finally end, think its over, and then find that down the road, it will come back.   This can leave them wondering if this is something that they are just going to have to learn to live with for years down the road.

Someone might say something like this: “my initial struggles with telogen effluvium started after I gave birth to my first child.  I understood why this was happening because my doctor warned me that it might.  Therefore, I wasn’t that worried about it and I knew that it would end.  And it did.  And I very naively assumed that I would not have to worry about this ever again.  How silly I was to make this assumption.  I’ve had TE every couple of years ever since.  It doesn’t happen every year.  It seems to be more like every other year.  And it does end.  But not before taking a lot of my hair with it.  Why would this be happening every couple of years?  I’ve been checked out medically and no one can find anything wrong with me.”

There are a couple of things that you might consider.  And I will list them below.  See if any ring a bell for you.

Severe Seasonal Shedding:  It never fails that in the late spring, I am sometimes going to shed so badly that I’m going to be afraid that I’ve got another bout of TE starting up.  And this can sometimes last for longer than a week.  Ask yourself if the shedding that you are seeing is occurring at the same time of year in each instance.  If it is, then this could be severe seasonal shedding rather than TE.

Hormonal Vulnerabilities:  If you have had TE after giving birth, this might be an indication that you are hormonally vulnerable.  Some people tend to shed when their hormones fluctuate – even a little.  I notice that when I try supplements or diets that can change my hormones even a little, I am prone to shedding.  I have to be careful not to initiate any major changes in my routine, no matter how tempting this may be at the time.

Allergies: This goes back to evaluating if the shedding is happening at the same time every year.  If you have severe allergies and this causes stress to the body or inflammation, it is possible that this could inspire a shed.  The same can be true of new products that irritate the scalp and cause an allergic reaction.

Stress As A Trigger:  Another thing that I sometimes see reoccurring with people vulnerable to shedding is stress.  Again, anything that can cause a major change of routine or stress to the body can cause shedding in some vulnerable people.  If you are under severe stress every couple of years, this would make sense.

The next time the shedding happens, it makes sense to ask yourself if you’ve tried or done anything that would affect hormones, if you are under stress, or if you have tried any new styling products, or have allergies.  Then take inventory of your general health.

Sometimes, shedding is part of aging as our hormones change or lessen.  If the hair is growing back and you are not showing any signs of miniaturization, this may be TE rather than any long term problem with androgens, which is good news since there would not be any permanent damage to the follicles.

I understand this frustration as I too am very hormonally vulnerable.  Any little thing can start me shedding.  I have to be very careful to keep my stress low, my health high, and to not change my routines or regimens in any major way.

It does stink, but over time I have learned ways to maximize my regrowth while trying to minimize or shorten my shedding.   You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Sep 27

I Gave Birth And Had My Baby A Year Ago. And I’m Still Shedding Hair. What Could Be Wrong?

By: Ava Alderman:  If you have postpartum hair shedding, chances are you’ve already done your research and have read that for many new moms, the shedding is normal and should be over with in about three months.  So, many of us try not to worry and we wait.  But when that three month mark passes, we tell ourselves that we just have to wait a little longer.

For some of this, a little patience is all it takes.  The shedding ends as it is supposed to and we are able to go on with our lives.  But for others, the hair loss and the shedding linger on, and you worry that it is never going to end or that there is something else wrong with you.

Someone might describe this type of scenario: “I am not kidding when it tell you that it has been over one year since I gave birth to my son and I am still shedding as bad as I ever did. Now, I know it’s normal to have postpartum shedding.  I had it with my first child so I wasn’t even concerned when it started.  But I did start to become concerned when after six months, it hadn’t improved.  Now it has been over a year with no relief.  Why has the shedding not stopped? Could there be something wrong with me?”

I can tell you some theories that I’ve developed.  I am not a doctor, but I experienced prolonged postpartum shedding also.  And there are many possibilities.  I will discuss them below, but I would also encourage you to see your physician or dermatologist who may do tests to help you find some answers.

First, although there are lucky folks who experience a very short amount of shedding postpartum, there are also people who shed for much longer than the three months.  That is only a general range.  It is not true for every one.  In fact, if you look on hair loss forums, you’ll see that prolonged shedding isn’t all that rare.

Second, it is possible that there is a second trigger.  Perhaps the postpartum shed is not what you are seeing now.  Perhaps you are seeing hair loss from a secondary trigger that you’ve not yet identified. Giving birth can give rise to hormonal issues.  Some women find themselves having thyroid fluctuations after giving birth and this can also cause hair loss.  I’ve even heard of women having autoimmune issues postpartum.  Plus, if you are breast feeding, this requires that your body works very hard (which is why some women lose weight during it.)   Any type of stress to or changes in your body can cause shedding.

Frankly, in my experience, it doesn’t seem to take a large change to cause shedding – just a change.  At least for people like me who are hormonally vulnerable. And some of our bodies take a little longer to regulate itself after stress.  Anything that throws your body off even just a little can cause shedding.

Finally, this is a theory that I have developed because of my own experience and the correspondence that I get.  I believe that in some cases, extended telogen effluvium or multiple bouts of it can kick off a hair condition that might have come further down the road or later in your life.

Think about it this way.  When you have telogen effluvium, your hair cycles speed up.  The shedding and growth cycles that would have otherwise have taken years suddenly happen in weeks and months.  You can have cycles which would have occurred over years happening in only months.  So, this process ages your hair.  Which means that in some cases, the hair issue that you would have had years down the road – like androgenetic alopecia – happens earlier than it would have otherwise have happened.

These are all just theories.  And your doctor would be in a better position to evaluate.  I know that this is tough. But keep in mind that when you are losing hair during telogen effluvium, you are also growing it back. So while it may get thinner and be very frustrating, it shouldn’t be balding or getting miniaturized in most cases.

My postpartum hair loss was very trying at a time that was already difficult.  I learned to have patience, to dig a little deeper, and also some tips that helped me make the most of the hair that I had.  You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Sep 13

How Do I Tell If My Telogen Effluvium Is Gradually Getting Better And It’s Not Just Wishful Thinking?

By: Ava Alderman:  There is no question that when you are shedding or losing hair, you want to believe that it is getting better.  (I think that is one reason why counting hairs can be so common.)  You want some quantitative way to be able to tell when it is actually improving.

However, if you have ever counted hairs, then you probably already know that this practice invokes a lot of anxiety.  It makes you worry about something that you can’t always control. And it sometimes makes you think that you aren’t making progress when you absolutely could be.  Honestly, most people can eyeball what comes out of the drain and ascertain if the amount is less than yesterday without needing to count the exact number of hairs.  In case it’s not already clear, I absolutely suggest that you DON’T count your hairs.  I know that it is tempting because I used to do it.  And that’s how I can tell you that it causes more problems than it solves.  It creates stress at a time when you absolutely do not need it.

So how do you know if you are improving if you don’t count hairs or take close inventory everyday?  Well, here are some things that you might look for.

Your Hair Becomes Shiny And Manageable Again:  When you are suffering from telogen effluvium, massive shedding, or even androgenetic alopecia, you will often find that your hair looks lifeless, may tangle, and may just be flat.  Part of the reason for this can be that the hair has switched out of the growing phase or the follicle has become smaller so that the hair is no longer being properly nourished.   However, once the follicles improve or the hair switches back to the growing phase (or both) then you should see the hair look more healthy again.

For The Most Part And Over All, You See Less Hair Falling Out:  It would be wonderful to think that your hair loss is going to gradually subside and then be nothing at all.  This isn’t always the reality, though.  Sometimes, you see a little improvement and then the shedding starts back up.  And then the process repeats before the improvement becomes more apparent.  The point is, recovery does not always come in a straight line.  But over all, you should generally be able to say that for the most part, the loss is not as bad as it once was.

Your Regrowth Looks Robust And Relatively / Increasingly Plentiful:  With most types of hair loss, hair that falls out is going to eventually regrow.  Now, the regrowth can be hard to spot at first.  It can even begin it’s growth looking a little thin.  But as time goes on, you should see dark, robust, and normal looking hair coming in.  If you don’t, then you want to take a look and evaluate for androgens, miniaturization, or inflammation – all of which can be treated.

I hope that this article has shown you that you don’t need to count your hairs in order to track your progress.  For the most part, you just need to have some awareness, but you don’t need to be obsessed or allow this to take over your life.  (Like I did for a while.) I know that’s easier said than done because I’ve been through this myself.  But sometimes, this hair loss thing needlessly causes a lot of stress at a time when we certainly don’t need it.  You can read more about my hair loss and recovery my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com

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Aug 31

Meditation For Telogen Effluvium, Shedding, And Hair Loss

By: Ava Alderman:  There is no question that when you believe that you are losing your hair, it is stressful.  Even if you only have shedding that is supposed to be temporary (as is the case with telogen effluvium,) you can still wonder and worry about when it will stop, how much longer you have to endure it, and what your hair will look like when it is finally over.  People may tell you that “it’s only hair,” but generally only people who haven’t watched their hair clog the drain can say things like this.  If you have watched helplessly as your hair becomes more and more thin, you know how emotionally and psychologically trying this can be.

Understandably then, people can look for ways to ease the stress.  Many people are intrigued by meditation.  And there’s no question that this practice can offer health benefits.  So of course some wonder if these health benefits might extend to your hair.  Someone might ask: “my doctor is pretty sure that I have telogen effluvium from some hormonal changes.  This has taken a huge toll on me.  I would say that I’ve lost at least 1/3 of the volume of my hair with no end in sight.  I am so stressed out.  The only relief that I get is doing yoga.  I’d like to expand on this and try some meditation.  But I have tried it before and I could not sit still like that.  However, right now I am desperate and I will force myself to sit.  Once I begin meditating, will it help or stop my hair loss?”

Give Yourself Permission To Use Whatever Type Of Meditation Works For You.  Tweak As Necessary: I honestly do not think that there is any down side to meditating.  The benefits are long and are well documented. Plus, meditation is free, easy, and relaxing.  But despite all of this, many people have trouble doing it.  I had trouble with the silence and with sitting still also.   So I gave myself permission to tweak it so that it worked for me.  I’ve had great success with an app called “Headspace” as well as just listening to soothing nature sounds or classical music that you can play on Youtube.   I also sometimes listen the Harry Potter series on YouTube. I find Jim Dale’s voice to be so relaxing and I zone out.  I close my eyes and allow the music or sounds to regulate my breathing.  “Headspace” is sort of a guided meditation.  There is a very soothing voice that walks you through the process.  But as you make progress and get into the habit, there are less and less prompts.  I am able to meditate using “headspace,” music, or soothing audio books just fine – I think because there is not the pressure of just sitting in silence without any guidance.  I just need for there to be sound.   I think that it is completely fine to meditate in whatever way that you find pleasing. The whole point is to regulate your breathing, slow or stop your thoughts, and just be present in the moment.  If this requires some music or prompts, I don’t see the harm.

Does Meditation Help With Hair Loss?: As to whether or not meditation will help with hair loss, if your trigger is stress, it certainly could help.  Meditation certainly helps to lower stress.  And even if stress is not your trigger, stress can sometimes prolong or worsen the hair loss.  It can also raise cortisol, which is a trigger for some.  So certainly lowering stress can inadvertently lower your hair loss.

However, with a medical trigger, it’s questionable as to whether stress-lowering methods can stop the hair loss.  Why? Because your hair follicles need time to go back into the growing phrase, which is when the hair loss stops.  This usually just happens in time.  Meditation, unfortunately, isn’t likely to speed this process.  It won’t reset your hair cycles.  And if you have an ongoing trigger that doesn’t stop, meditation won’t take away that trigger.

Still, even if meditation doesn’t eliminate your hair loss, it is still worth doing.  Anything that you can do to feel better and to lower stress is beneficial. I did meditate when I was having hair loss.  I am not sure that there was a cosmetic benefit, but there was certainly a mental one.  You can read about some of the other things that helped me on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com

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Aug 30

Is Telogen Effluvium More Visible At The Crown Area?

By: Ava Alderman:  For a woman experiencing hair shedding or loss, there are a couple of areas on our scalp that we are particularly concerned about.  These areas are the temples and the crown.  Why?  Because these are the areas that will most commonly thin if we have androgenetic alopecia or pattered thinning or baldness.  Many people who believe that they have telogen effluvium hope and pray that they do not have androgenetic alopecia because telogen effluvium eventually ends, whereas AGA can be a long term struggle (at least without treatment.)

Concerning the crown, someone may ask: “is it possible for hair loss at the crown to be more noticeable when you have telogen effluvium?  I honestly believe that I am shedding hair from all over.  I believe that I have TE because the loss is diffuse. I think that this TE theory almost has to be true because of the sheer volume of hair that I am losing.  But, when I take inventory and take an honest look at my hair, the area that looks the worst is my crown.  I almost can not stand to look back there.  There’s a little bald spot right at the end of my part line.  I have taken to teasing that area, but I hate to do this long term because I feel like it damages the hair and makes more of it fall out.  Is it possible for loss to be more noticeable at the crown, even with telogen effluvium?”

In my own experience, I believe that the answer to this question is yes.  I had chronic TE and I noticed more thinning in my temples and crown.  But once my loss ended, the hair mostly grew back. I do have one temple that is a little more sparse than the other.  I do not know why it has lagged behind.  But, compared to how it looked at it’s worse, I am very happy with how it filled back in.  And you probably would not notice anything unless I showed you old photos.

It might make you feel a little better to really look at your crown and notice how some of it faces down toward the sides and some of it goes straight down toward the back. It is for this reason that there is just naturally less coverage in that area.  Think about it this way.  If you had the same amount of hair on your sides and at your crown, the crown would look more sparse simply because, right at the top, it covers three different areas on your scalp.  The hair on the sides simply hangs straight down and provides full coverage.  But it only has to cover one area.

I think you’ve already made an important distinction.  You are losing hair all over.  It is diffuse loss.  Hair that is only falling out and being affected at the high androgen areas would be more of a concern.  But I believe that it is possible to have telogen effluvium and to still notice more loss at the temples and crown.  The temples have a lot of baby hairs to begin with.  And the coverage that the crown provides is divided, so that any loss there is going to be more noticeable.  Of course, if you notice other changes that may indicate changes in androgens outside of your scalp, (acne, or oil on the face and body) then consulting a dermatologist is a good idea.

There are colored powders that can help you cover the crown so you don’t have to tease it.  You match the powder to your hair color and you truly can not tell after it is applied. You’re welcome to read more about my experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 23

Is Brushing Your Hair During Telogen Effluvium Bad?

By: Ava Alderman:  When your hair is shedding or falling out, you usually can’t help but notice that the problem gets worse every time that you manipulate your hair.  This means when you wash it, brush it, style it, or put it up, you might notice more hair coming out.  As a result, you can begin to wonder if these tasks are bad for you and your hair, (considering the situation,) and whether or not you should do less of these things.

There seems to be particular concern about brushing. We can all get away with washing our hair a little less, but brushing is something that is carried out daily.  Someone might ask: “I used to love to brush my hair and I would do so for about five minutes before bed time.  This would keep my hair shiny and manageable.  Well, now my hair is shedding and brushing it is traumatic.  I brush and tons of hair comes out and my hair doesn’t look nice in the way it used to.  Is it bad to brush your hair when you have telogen effluvium?”

I am not sure that bad is the right word.  The thing is, what comes out in your hair brush are hairs that were in the resting phase and that were eventually going to fall out anyway.  Sure, by brushing, you may have shortened their life span by a couple of days, but they were eventually going to fall out.  Hair that is growing and is being nourished isn’t going to come out with brushing, unless you are brushing REALLY hard and too aggressively.

Theoretically, brushing is good for your hair and scalp.  It clears debris on the scalp and stimulates blood flow.  But when you are shedding a lot, it can be traumatic to brush your hair.  Even if you intellectually know that those hairs were going to come out anyway, it can be excruciating to know that what you are doing is pulling them out.  When you are shedding, it can feel as if every hair counts.

I can tell you what seemed to help me, at least a little.  My hair is wavy. So there is no way that I’m going to get by without brushing it or combing.  It would tangle otherwise.  But, when I brushed, ropes of hair would come out and it would make me very upset.  So I started using either a wide toothed comb or a brush made specifically for very curly hair.  The bristles were spaced further apart and had more give.  So they didn’t pull as much and didn’t cause as much hair to fall out.

Plus, I would hold down my hair at the roots and focus mainly on just the ends of my hair.  This too would help the hair not to pull as much and would result in less shedding.

So to answer the question, brushing your hair isn’t bad for your you or for your scalp, unless you are pulling too hard.  But when you are shedding, it can be difficult psychologically.  So you can use grooming instruments that don’t pull as much and can take special care when you brush.  Some people with really short or straight hair can get away with finger combing if the shedding is really severe.

One other tip I can offer is that if you use a little spray on conditioner before you brush or comb, it will pull even less.  I learned a lot of tricks like this when my hair was shedding. You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 16

I’m A Woman Losing My Hair And This Makes Me Look Much Older

By: Ava Alderman:  These is no question that there are some things that contribute to a youthful look.  Examples of some of things are a full head of hair, clear, wrinkle-free skin, and a youthful body.  Typically, most of these things age in their own time.  However, if you are dealing with a hair loss issue, you may perceive that you have the hair of someone much older.  And you may worry that this gives you the overall appearance of someone that you are not yet ready to be.

Someone might comment: “I am only in my late twenties.  For the past four months, I have lost an alarming amount of hair.  I am still closely examining my regrowth to see if there is miniaturization.  Because I am not yet sure if I have telogen effluvium or AGA.  However, even without a lot of miniaturization yet, the appearance of my hair is drastically different.  It’s dry and fly away.  It looks – and there’s really no better word for this – sick.  The other day when I was in the check out line, the cashier called me ma’am.  This has never happened to me before. I also notice less men checking me out when I am out in pubic.  I feel so much worse about myself now.  I feel as if I look ten years older, at least.  My hair used to be lush, full, and beautiful.  Now it just looks pitiful and it makes me look older.  How do I address this?”

I felt similarly when I had chronic telogen effluvium with some miniaturization thrown into the mix.  I can tell you some things that helped me.

A Hair Cut: At one point I considered a pixie cut to just take some of the pressure off of me psychologically.  But close to that time period, I saw someone with very thin hair with a pixie cut and I noticed that you could see scalp. Now, I think if you have course hair, perhaps it would be OK.  However, my hair is fine, so I knew that scalp coverage might be an issue for me.  Ultimately, I opted for a blunt bob.  This made me look like I had more hair than I did.  And, I made sure that the bob was long enough where I could wear my hair up.  Frankly, I wore my hair in a lot of gentle pony tails at that time. Because it just looked better.  You didn’t see the dryness or the fly away texture.  And it kept the spent hairs from being on my clothes. (I preferred using a large barrette rather than an elastic because I noticed this pulled out much less hair.)

Play Up Attributes Other Than Your Hair: When I wore my hair up, I made a point of playing up my eyes.  And, during that time, I really embraced exercise for a couple of reasons. First, it was a nice stress reliever.  But most importantly, I figured if my hair wasn’t going to look nice, my body definitely was.  Having a nicer figure gave me more confidence.  And I paid careful attention to wearing flattering clothes.

Don’t Project What Isn’t There: Listen, when we are shedding hair, we start to believe the worst and we think that we can’t look our best without very thick or very long hair.  This just isn’t true. Look at Halle Berry, who is one of the most beautiful women in the world, despite having  a very simple, short hair cut.  Or Ginnifer Goodwin.  When you look at these women, the focus is certainly not on their hair, but they look amazing.  You can look great without solely relying on your hair.

I know that it’s hard not to be self conscious about this.  But I promise that you are the one who notices this the most.  The rest of the world does not notice this nearly as much as you assume.  Frankly, once my hair loss resolved, I realized how much time and energy I had wasted with my worry.  Try to focus on the things that you can control – your skin, your make up, your fitness, and your clothing.  This will ensure that you can have confidence while you are waiting for your hair loss to resolve.

I know that it’s easy to worry that you are never going to look as good as you once did.  But don’t allow the stress to cause this to be a self fulfilling prophecy.  If you have TE and remove the trigger and address the inflammation, you can likely eventually get your hair back.  Sure, it takes some time to regrow.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel.  You can read more about my experience and what helped me on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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Aug 10

Telogen Effluvium In The Back Only: Is It Possible?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from people who notice most of their hair loss on one area of their head or scalp.  Many believe or hope that they have telogen effluvium hair loss.  But, they do a little research and they find that this type of hair loss isn’t usually patterned or is limited to only one area of the scalp.  So they wonder if it’s possible that they still have telogen effluvium.  One example of this type of concern is seeing hair loss only noticeable in the back or crown.

Someone might express this concern: “I have been shedding hair for two months.  I recently went on a pretty restrictive diet, so I suspect that the change in my eating habits brought on telogen effluvium.  However, I examine my hair all of the time and the only place where I notice any thinning is in the crown of my head.  I know that this is an area of loss that is often seen when people have androgenetic alopecia.  So that is my worry – that because I am seeing patterned loss, I don’t have TE after all.  Is it possible to have something other than AGA when you have loss in only one area?”

I think that is is possible, although it is not completely common.  When I shed horrifically after my first child was born, initially all I saw was loss at my bangs.  I lost nearly all of my bangs so that all I had were baby hairs there. I took to wearing my hair swept back as a result.  However, as the shedding continued on for a longer period of time, I started to see a loss of volume all over my head. I think that it is possible that sometimes, we initially see loss only in areas that are sparse to begin with. The bangs and the crown are examples.  If you compare the amount of hair at those areas with the sides, you’ll see that the temple and crown are generally more sparse.  And consider this – your crown is where your part line meets the hair that is going straight down.  Therefore, any loss there is going to be more noticeable because the hair isn’t facing in the same way.  Many women report seeing the loss in crown so that the area where their part line meets their crown looks like an uppercase L back there. So instead of the part line just making  a straight line or an “I,” you see an “L” where the crown peeks through.

However, seeing the “L” doesn’t tell you what type of hair loss you might have.  And, it might be that in a short period of time, more diffuse loss will be noticeable.  I would also keep an eye on the regrowth at the crown or back to see if it is miniaturized because this is indicative of androgen-driven hair loss.  I know that it may be hard to examine the regrowth there, but have someone help you or pluck out one of the hairs so that you can examine it.

There was no mention of whether there were other indications of androgen issues – like hair that is more oily than normal or a shiny scalp.  I’m certainly not a doctor or specialist, but the absence of these things along with the trigger of the new diet are still pretty indicative of telogen effluvium.  But you will likely want to watch the situation more closely in the days to come to see if you notice any more diffuse loss or miniaturization.

I know that it’s easy to worry that you have lasting hair loss that might never grow back, but it doesn’t help to assume the worst.  Keep a close eye on it and know that sparser areas on your scalp will sometimes show the loss before other areas. Unfortunately, I know this from experience.  You can read more about my hair loss and hair growth journey on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/

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