Hair Loss/hair loss diagnosis
I'm a 38 year old female with no previous hair loss issues. My hair is thin and very straight but I've had plenty of it until the beginning of last fall (I was 37 at the time) when it suddenly started to fall out in large quantities - a lot noticeable during showering with hairs falling out in bunches of 2-3-4 every time i pull. Then again when I brush, and lately I keep finding them hanging on my clothes, arms, etc., and of course I find many on the floor. Although I noticed the hair loss all of a sudden - around my vertex, when I would pull it in a pony tail, I had noticed my hair getting dry (it's usually on the oily side) and tangling up a lot in the back, which never happened before, as well as discolored hairs -- i have dark-reddish brown hair and many hairs were looking as if I had highlights (but in small proportions), and I've been getting some gray hairs of poor quality- thin and stringy, which I would pull out once in a while (the are not many). I chalked it up to not getting a haircut in 4 months and being rough at the beach in the summer, so after I got a haircut things improved in terms of hair quality, but not in hair loss. It has been 4 months, going into the 5th and I've lost at least 50% of my hair - most of it on top and especially at the vertex, where the hair is making strange swirl patterns and being lifted in the air a bit(I guess because of missing hairs nearby), but also a lot around the temples and throughout. I did not see a dermatologist until a month ago after I saw my primary doctor and bloodwork came back normal except for vitamin D deficiency and iron a bit on the low side but not deficient yet, but it was not detailed bloodwork. My sister just got diagnosed with thyroid disorder, I am wondering if this could be it. My mother also has it (not too bad though) as well as very thin hair (but she's had that for years and has done coloring and curling, etc). My father has a full head of hair and mine looks like his, but my mother's father was bold at a young age. I am trying to find out whether this is genetic or Telogen Effluvium, and how to stop it from continuing. I can't afford to lose more hair than I already have and not have it regrow. I can see some short hair sticking out on top of my head but I don't know if that's enough of a growth to make up for the loss. I have been under a lot of stress, unable to get sufficient sleep, but this is not the first time. The loss was definitely sudden - I had plenty of hair and rather shiny back in June-July. Thank you for any insight you may give me. I'm getting hormones tested now, but I don't have ovarian cysts (had ultrasound) although my periods are very heavy with migraines. Thank you!
Telogen effluvium is the most common type of hair loss that causes excessive shedding as you describe. With telogen effluvium the hair falls in a diffuse manner--fairly evenly throughout the scalp. Any type of change, disturbance or imbalance can cause this condition. When telogen effluvium occurs, more hairs than usual go into the resting stage where they will then fall out approximately three months later. Thinking back to the months prior to the sudden increase in shedding may provide clues. Factors to consider include medications, supplements, change in diet, exposure to toxin, illness, infection, medical procedure, etc.
Vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency are commonly associated with hair loss. When these deficiencies exist it is more likely that other nutritional deficiencies (that may not have been tested for) also exist. It is important to determine the underlying cause of these deficiencies, especially if diet is adequate. Mal-absorption, autoimmune issues, and medications can create nutritional imbalances.
Nutritional deficiencies can cause hair texture changes as you describe. Protein, essential fatty acid and iron deficiencies can cause hair to lighten. Vitamin C deficiency can cause coiled, kinky hair and tangles. Manganese deficiency can cause reddening of hair.
Androgenetic alopecia does not cause a sudden extreme increase in shedding. Androgenetic alopecia causes a gradual thinning of individual hairs (mostly on top of head and bang area).
Telogen effluvium that lasts more than six months is considered chronic. Chronic telogen efflvuium indicates an internal imbalance that needs to be identified and addressed. When trying to determine the cause of telogen effluvium it is important to consider every single symptom that may be present. Hair loss is never an isolated condition. There may be more than one contributing factor.
Please let me know if I can help you further.
Sincerely, Melanie Vonzabuesnig
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