Hair Loss/CTE, TE, AGA? Strange symptoms. . .
Long story short:
- - Last summer and fall, I was shedding lots of hair (on the pillow, in the shower). I could pull it out in clumps. My lashes, eyebrows, arm hair, and even the tiny mustache I usually sport all thinned. My nails were extremely brittle. My eyes were itchy all of the time. The shed didn't cause noticeable thinness (see through hair) until January. I noticed the loss at the sides much sooner than the rest of my hair.
-- The derm told me I had miniaturization at the end of January, but she did not do a biopsy. She recommended Rogaine.
-- I had some health issues for most of last year, and think I may have been low iron for half of the year due to very frequent, heavy periods. I had headaches, low platelets, and an infection for over a year. My ferritin came back at 64 in January, but I'd already started upping iron intake and feeling much better. Lots of new bloodwork- CBC, thyroid, hormones, vitamin d, etc all ok.
- I am finally noticing regrowth. It is around my hairline- they started as baby hairs, but now look normal and I am able to blend them in, mostly, with the rest of my hair. There is just not enough of them.
-- lots of spiky hair on top wherever I part my hair on top. Some of this hair looks thinner in diameter, though.
-- eyebrows, lashes, and arm air have filled in. I am plucking my little mustache again. Nails are much better-- they are not nearly as brittle and much less bumpy. My eyes are clear, and the infection I had was finally picked up and treated.
The Bad News?
-- It still seems like I am still losing lots of hair, but I do not count it. It's just everywhere, but not in clumps like last fall.
-- Shedding shorter (intermediate?) hairs (between 2-5 inches), and I've even found a couple of those elusive vellus type hairs in the sink. It seems some of the hair I am growing is falling out. At first, I was only shedding long hairs.
-- My hairline is not intact-- it looks more like male pattern baldness than the pictures I've seen of women. It is really thin up front and looks awful. I also have a weird crooked part that goes halfway down the back of my head. My hair seems thinner all over. I hate it.
-- The texture of my hair seems to vary by the day. One day it looks really nice and the next it's flyaway and sick looking. Could be the humidity-- I am in a very humid place and the weather has been wacky.
-- Does this sound like AGA progressing or recovery from CTE or TE?
-- I'd like to try the Rogaine, but I'm really scared of the initial shed I've been reading about. Does this happen to everyone?
1. It sounds as if you have had CTE which has has cause you to show up early Androgenetic Alopecia you may not have seen for another 20 to 30 years. Chronic stress can cause early AGA to show up.
2. Rogaine Foam 5% minoxidil was very recently approved by the FDA for use by women once a day. I recommend it be applied in the morning. There is rarely a shed and it would be minimal even if you were to notice it. Most of the cases of "shed" are reported in patients who expect the hair to start growing the next day. It takes a few months to change the hair cycles and to be able to see the new hairs. The shed which is seen in the first month in most cases is probably due to patients seeing the same loss they had when they were expecting new hair to grow.
You can read about a case of a man who lost most of his hair in one year due to malaria in Chapter 4 of my book "Hair Loss Answers" which you can read for free on my website www.hairdoc.com http://www.hairdoc.com/hair-loss-anwers/chapter-4-other-hair-loss-causes/
In most cases of telogen effluvium, the hair follicles recover and soon shift back to the regular growth cycle.
However, repeated instances of telogen effluvium can result in premature hair loss in people predisposed to lose their hair late in life. The average growth cycle of a hair follicle takes about five years, but each follicle is “genetically programmed” for only a limited number of growth cycles. For example, if a particular hair follicle were “genetically programmed” for only ten growth cycles, after about fifty years that follicle would stop producing new hairs. When all the follicles at the hairline or crown of the head are “genetically programmed” this way, a receding hairline or bald spot appears after all the growth cycles for the follicles in those areas have been cycled through.
Each incidence of telogen effluvium uses up one “life” of the affected hair follicles. So instead of having a receding hairline or bald spot at age fifty, the hair loss may occur a few years earlier. This is not a significant issue if telogen effluvium occurs once or twice in a lifetime; however, accelerated hair loss can result from repeated severe stressful events, if each instance triggers a new round of telogen effluvium.
I had a patient who was totally bald when I met him at age seventy, and he had lost all his hair by age twenty-two. He had worked on the Panama Canal fifty years earlier, and for two straight years starting when he was twenty he suffered repeated bouts of severe fever from episodes of malaria. Each time he suffered from malaria induced fever he experienced telogen effluvium, lost what hair he had, and his hair follicles lost another “life.” After ten or fifteen malaria stress cycles, at the age of twenty-two, he had the hair he would have had at age seventy. Which unfortunately for him was no hair at all.