Hair Loss/Hair loss- desperate
I am a 25 year old nurse. I grew up with thick, curly hair that everyone complemented (and often still continues to compliment). Curly hair is part of what defines me as a person.
I realized about a year and a half ago that my hair was getting much thinner. It had actually been going on for a while before that (maybe 2 years), but I chose to ignore it. May of 2013 I went to a dermatologist who told me that it was telogen effluvium and that I'd just have to wait. In October 2013 I went to another dermatologist who ran a myriad of tests, telling me they were all normal (I went back and reviewed them recently and noticed my ferritin was 13 back then).
As I obsessed about my hair, I finally decided to switch birth controls. I went from a triphasic to a monophasic. It seemed to help my hair, but it gave me other side effects I wasn't willing to deal with. In December I went off birth control. After having unprotected sex impulsively, I decided to get the copper IUD in January of 2014. I have had it in since. I didn't have a period from mid December 2013 until late March 2014. My hair seemed to be falling out less, or at least I was able to ignore it.
My period came back regularly over the summer (very heavy). Recently my hair loss has gotten so terrible that I often cry/panic. My pony tail is tiny in circumference, and my bitemporal areas are obviously thinned out. I feel that it is difficult to hide, although I do seem to have many short hairs (which fall out just as frequently as the long hairs do).
I started to take iron supplements last month, after seeing that my ferritin was 13 almost a year ago. I also read online that zinc deficiency can cause hair loss. I was a vegetarian from age 13-20, and continue to avoid red meat. I also read that the copper T can exacerbate zinc deficiency, so I started taking zinc supplements (with smaller amounts of copper, so as not to give myself a copper deficiency) about a week ago.
Below are before and after photos. I am so desperate for help. I feel like I will have to go buy a wig soon. Do you have any advice for me?
It's really a shame that your dermatologist told you all your tests were normal when your ferritin level was 13--which is at the lowest possible end of normal. It would be nice if they mentioned that, so you could have worked on increasing it. When female hair loss is an issue some experts recommend aiming for a ferritin level of 70 to help initiate healthy hair growth. Even though ferritin levels are low it does not automatically suggest that this is the cause of hair loss, but no matter what the cause of hair loss, higher ferritin levels make it easier for the hair growth cycle to recover. It is possible that your ferritin levels are even lower now due to heavy periods. It is also important to determine the cause of low ferritin, especially if iron intake is adequate. The vegetarian diet you were on may have contributed, as non-heme iron is not as easily absorbed unless combined with vitamin C. Hair follicles contain ferritin. The body will rob ferritin from the hair follicles when needed elsewhere. This can cause or contribute to hair loss, change in texture and lightening of hair color. When an iron deficiency exists it is not uncommon for other nutritional deficiencies to exist as well.
Hair loss is common with birth control. One of the main reasons birth control causes hair loss is due to the nutritional imbalances caused by birth control. There are other reasons as well. I will include an article explaining how birth control causes hair loss.
One of the imbalances caused by birth control is high copper levels, possibly due to the reduction of zinc. Although the copper IUD is a non-hormonal form of birth control, many women experience hair loss and other symptoms of copper overload while using it. Do you have any other symptoms of copper toxicity? I have heard from others who have lost the spring in their curls, along with hair loss while using copper IUD. I would highly doubt that you would need any cooper in your supplements, especially while you have IUD. Copper deficiency is very rare, excess is much more common. Yes it is true that copper depletes zinc. Zinc is extremely important for healthy hair growth. Zinc helps deplete excess copper. Testing for copper excess is tricky. Blood tests are unreliable because excess copper hides itself in the organs and tissues, more so than in the bloodstream. Hair analysis may be more reliable.
Your condition does sound like telogen effluvium. With telogen effluvium the hairs do get replaced but even the newly growing hairs can fall out. Telogen effluvium rarely affects more than 45% of hair follicles. In the picture, your hair still looks very good so that is something to be thankful for. You will not become bald with telogen effluvium. The follicles do not get damaged. The hair growth cycle has been disrupted and needs to restore itself back to normal. When the cause is unknown it is important to consider every possible symptom you may be having for possible clues.
Essential oils scalp treatments can help stimulate new, healthy hair growth by increasing energy and nourishment directly to the follicle and root of hair. Essential oils contain all the nutrients of the plants thy come from, in a concentrated form. Because the molecules of essential oils are as small or smaller than the molecules of our scalp, they are easily absorbed.
Sincerely, Melanie Vonzabuesnig
Birth control and Hair Loss