Hair Loss/Chronic hairloss, 17, Female
QUESTION: I asked a question about hairloss several months ago, as I was in the middle of a mysterious round of telogen effluvium. I hoped that the hairloss would end, but I have been losing for 8 months now and am still going as strong as ever. I lose tiny hairs less than an inch long, three inch hairs, 6 inch, 8 inch, etcetera. All of my hair is falling out. I am concerned that soon my scalp will be plainly visible. I work out 6 days a week, eat plenty of nutritious foods (meat, beans, salads, vegetables, breads, and fruit) and weigh 117 pounds at 5'6". I am a very driven and naturally anxious person. I probably think too much and worry too much for my own good. Losing my hair has helped me let go of certain things, but it is also a major stressor! I try to let it all go, but at the end of the day, I'm still losing 200-300 hairs, which is a bit traumatic. What in the world should I do? Is this normal for 17 year old girls to lose their hair as a senior in high school? I have a lot on my plate, but I just can't believe that my hair would fall out for 8 stinking months at the same horrific pace because of that. What should I do? :(. Are weaves an option? I've talked to a ton of doctors and have run millions of tests...everything is perfectly normal.
ANSWER: Chronic telogen effluvium is an indication that something is out of balance. As you are experiencing, it is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause(s), especially when all lab work comes back normal. It may be helpful to have a look at all your results and see if anything is on the low end of "normal". Particularly look at your iron and ferritin levels as intense workouts can cause the body to require more iron. This is especially true in regards to young female athletes. If your work-outs, six days a week are extremely strenuous this may be taxing to your system.
There are many possible causes of telogen effluvium. Making a list of every symptom one may be experiencing regarding physical, mental and emotional health can be helpful in providing clues, as the health of one's hair is intimately connected to overall health and well-being.
Other things to consider include medications including birth control, supplements--sometimes getting too much of a certain nutrient can cause hair loss, possibility of systemic infection such as Candidiasis albicans, possible mal-absorption issue such as gluten sensitivity/intolerance, etc.
Also think back to the months prior to hair loss. Was their any illness, high fever, medical procedure, vaccination, antibiotic use, dental work, etc.
To answer your question, "NO" it is not normal to be losing that much hair for your age or for any age. Do you have any areas of baldness or is all the shedding happening fairly evenly throughout the scalp?
I absolutely would not use any type of weave or extension that creates tension on fragile, falling hair. This will only make matters worse. The halo couture type extensions are perfectly fine as they rest easily on your scalp with little or no tension.
Essential oil scalp treatments can help stimulate healthy new hair growth. Although essential oils can help with hair growth, it is still important to determine and treat the underlying issue.
Sincerely, Melanie Vonzabuesnig
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you so much for your response! The shedding is even all over...no bald patches. The dermatologist diagnosed it as telogen effluvium about three months into the hairloss. The workout could be a possible contributing factor...I really try to push myself. What's more, for the past 5 years I've been a dancer, and this past year has been even more grueling than typical. I've been dancing 6 days a week for at least an hour every time, sometimes more. Also, my diet was pretty strict about a year ago, but now I am incorporating much more healthy fats and lean proteins into my diet. I will definitely check those levels...like I said, literally everything has been checked... One thing I forgot to mention, however, is that I've had amenorrhea. I'm now on the birth control pill, so I'm regular, but before that...(I started 6 months ago)...I had not had a period in 9 months. I guess that also could be a contributing factor? But the OBGYN said it was fine and not a big issue until i try to get pregnant. For me, id still like to know WHY I wasn't menstruating normally! My mom and I addressed the amenorrhea problem when i started losing hair, thinking those things were definitely linked. So far, no clear answers. And now, 8 months into hairloss and 6 months into birth control pill, the loss is still going strong. Should I quit birth control and see if that lessens my hair loss? I would like to know I can menstruate on my own without the pill.
Any time there is an imbalance in the body, telogen effluvium can occur. The fact that your body stopped producing a monthly menstrual cycle is an indication that something is out of balance. The underlying cause of your amenorrhea is very likely related to the underlying cause of your hair loss. Excessive strenuous exercise along with low body fat is one of the most common causes of amenorrhea. Since this applies to you, it is very likely the cause. I do agree with you that it is important to rule out any other possible causes or related conditions.
You can speak with your physician about getting off pill. Sometimes the pill is only used for short while to encourage periods until body can take over on it's own.
You may want to do web search of birth pill and hair loss, and then weigh out pros and cons. I always opt for nartural holistic care whenever possible. Because you express interest in wanting your body to restore itself to produce to normal montly cycles, I would try to find a practitioner who will work with you towards that goal.
Sincerely, Melanie Vonzabuesnig
Understanding Female Hair Loss