After each of my three pregnancies I would lose chunks of hair. It was traumatic, devastating, stressful, even though I knew that it was normal, it was expected, and it will pass. I was tired, my sore, swollen body didn’t feel like my own, and hormonal changes were whispering on repeat that this is it, my hair, me, nothing will ever be the same.
“It was traumatic, devastating, stressful…”
Hair is so much of our identity for both men and women that drastic change can alter the way we feel. I am sure you know of a woman or a man who might be going through some life changes and her frequent haircuts or hair coloring reflect that until all is settled. When a person starts loosing hair it feels hopeless because most of the time you might not know why you are losing it, when it will stop, and when it will grow back just like before. The uncertainty that this is permanent is scary.
“The uncertainty that this is permanent is scary.”
My hair stopped falling out several months after my pregnancies. This drastic type of hair loss is called Telogen Effluvium. It happens about three months after a stressful event such as pregnancy, miscarriage, sudden weight loss from dieting or surgery, illness with high fever, or death in the family.
Hair has three stages anagen, which is growth, most of the hair spend 3-5 years in that stage. Telogen is resting stage where it spends 2-3 months, and catagen stage is when hair falls out. In Telogen Effluvium due to the shock the body experiences from physical or emotional stress, hair growth (anagen) phase is arrested, it freezes. All those hairs enter telogen phase where they spend a few month and then fall out. That’s why it takes 8-12 weeks for the hair to start shedding after pregnancy for example. Telogen Effluvium is self-limiting and hair loss stops on its own without any treatment or intervention.
Now I am in my late thirties and I am experiencing another type of hair loss. I see that my hair line has become thinner and even receded back slightly. This type of hair loss is called androgenic alopecia and happens in both men and women. Women can start experiencing it in their early twenties and there are multiple causes genetics, stress, hormones, and age.
Androgenic alopecia can be treatable, but not curable. I first advise my patients to start taking vitamins such as Biotin 5000mcg once a day for a few months or for more nourishment I strongly recommend Nutrafol. I took this supplement myself and was happy with the results. Besides containing Biotin and other B vitamins, it has zinc, saw palmetto, vitamin D, and many other natural ingredients that will help boost your hair growth. Nutrafol also has different formulations for men, younger women, and menopausal women, which better addresses the needs of each group. You can buy the vitamins on line at www.nutrafol.com or we carry it in the office to make it more convenient for you to start them right away.
Many of my patients ask about natural ways to boost hair growth. Frequently they turn to the use of castor oil. Although it is recommended online by many, there are no clinical studies that have proven its efficacy. Another method that patients try is rubbing an onion to the scalp but again, this has no proven effect on hair and all you may end up with smelly hair and scalp irritation.
For those who have thin hair I advised to avoid using 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner. This combination tends to weigh down hair. Also when applying conditioner start from mid shaft rather than from the root. Conditioners contain silicone and oils which help to smooth the hair shaft, but you don’t want it too close to the root to avoid faster dirtying of the hair which will make already thin hair appear stringy.
“…avoid using 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner.”
I also recommend blood work to everyone who experiences sudden hair loss. There are many internal processes that may cause you to lose your hair, for example anemia, thyroid issues, male or female hormone imbalance, Iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, rheumatological disease like Lupus and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). Blood analysis will screen for all those issues. The medication you take can also be a factor. Accutane and birth control for example have hair loss as a side effect, so mention any new medications that you might be taking.
In addition to the vitamins it might be beneficial to start using Rogaine (Minoxidil) an over the counter medication for hair loss for men and women. Use it for at least 6 months to see results, which may result in new regrowth or slow down of shedding. You might notice initial increase in hair falling out when you start Rogaine, it is expected. Rogaine speeds the cycle of hair life making it fall out faster before new hair growth begins.
PRP (platelet rich plasma) is the next treatment option. We inject it throughout the scalp also microneedling it into the skin. PRP stimulates collagen production and increases blood flow, nourishing the hair follicles. You need 6 sessions 4-6 weeks apart and then maintenance a couple of times a year.
For men there is an option of taking Propecia (Finesteride), a pill specifically approved for male hair loss. It is recommended to stay on it for a year to see results and if you do, you have to continue taking it. If you stop, the hair that regrew with Propecia intake will fall out. Propecia does carry a risk of lowering blood pressure and also sexual side effects. Propecia is a prescription medication you can schedule an appointment with me and we will discuss if you are a candidate to take it.
And final treatment and a permanent one for both men and women is hair transplant. The procedure has evolved and now you can have a beautiful, natural result, without anyone one knowing. It is expensive and is not covered by insurance. Seek out a center or a plastic surgeon which does many of hair transplant procedures on daily basis.
To discuss your hair loss, its cause, and treatment you can schedule an appointment with me at Khrom Dermatology by calling 718-615-4000. I understand what you are going through and will be happy to see you.