I started to notice a loss of hair density when I was 19 years old. At first, I thought it was because I moved to a dry climate, but after time passed, I realized that this was not the case. I had thick, natural curly, wavy hair when I was young. My hair loss has been very gradual, but I feel as though it has accelerated in the last three years. I don’t notice my part getting bigger I just feel loss of density all over my head. I’ve been to three dermatologists and have taken all the tests. Everything comes back normal except for my iron. (Side note: I was diagnosed with anemia back in 2002 and went on iron supplements back then.) My dermatologist advised me to go on iron supplements and spirnolactone. She said I won’t notice a difference in hair density for at least a year after taking the supplements. So far, it has been almost 4 months since I started taking the iron supplements and I haven’t noticed a difference. I don’t shed as much during the day or while I take a shower. However, I lose a lot of hair when I brush. I’d say 150+ hairs. She said that if the iron doesn’t work, that I probably have androgenetic alopecia and because I’m losing hair all over my head, hair replacement surgery is not an option. I haven’t had a scalp biopsy done. I’d like to, but my dermatologist didn’t think it was necessary.
I feel I should also mention my family history. My mother has a full head of hair and she is 63. My dad is just now at age 62, losing his hair, but it could be due to his thyroid condition. My bother is losing hair and he is 33. My grandmother on my mom’s side has hair, my grandfather, however had hair loss. My grandmother on my dad’s side had thin, fine hair, but my dad said he couldn’t recall seeing her scalp. My other grandfather had a full head of hair. So, hair loss is in my family.
With all this said, I’ve gone through a wave of emotions. [click to continue…]
Well, in my situation, my family doctor first ordered blood work to look for an underying hair loss cause and found nothing. So she referred me to a dermatologist and on my own I sought out an endocrinologist because I have other symptoms. An endocrinologist is now looking into a possible underactive adrenal gland now because my cortisol level was borderline low. At the same time, my dermatologist did a biopsy of my scalp and found telogen effluvium AND androgenetic alopecia. SHOCK! No women in my family have this problem. So, I am wondering if you’ve heard of any possibility that this could be a false -positive for the androgenetic alopecia. Can anything else mimic alopecia? There’s no way to tell how much of my hair loss is due to TE or how much is due to AA, but as a result I have been advised to start using Rogaine for Women. I was told Men’s Rogaine is too strong while not helping any more than the women’s Rogaine. I also am going to use Nizoral 1%(doctor suggested) for dandruff that I already have and that may get worse with Rogaine. I just pray the Rogaine works. I don’t want to waste time and hair.
Hi, welcome to the site! I’m not a doctor and I don’t have a lot of first hand experience with scalp biopsies so I’m hoping that perhaps Andrea or another women who has actually had this test performed, can help in providing greater insight. I’m also sending your question over to The American Hair Loss Association so that it can be answered by an actual physician because I want to make sure you get the right information. I wish I could answer your question about whether or not scalp biopsies can return results that are false positives for androgenetic alopecia. Logically I think that it is always possible in any test. I am curious to know if any other women have received the same results as you, being diagnosed with both telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia. If I was concerned about the resulting diagnosis I probably would consider having the test be redone by a different physician. Doctors are people too and they do make mistakes.
When I was first diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia back when I as 21/22 years of age I was told to take the Mens Rogaine and that it was perfectly safe and would be more effective. I know that a lot of doctors do tell their female patients to go ahead with the stronger dose as well, but you have to do what you feel comfortable with. You can always go for the higher strength Men’s Rogaine at a later time should you choose to do so. Also, a few women on this blog have been saying that the Rogaine Foam is easier to use and eliminates some of the problems that the regular Rogaine can sometimes cause, such as greasiness and itchiness, since it doesn’t have the propylene glycol. Although currently the Rogaine Foam is only available in the 5% minoxidil Men’s version. You can read the comment Gretchen wrote about it here.
I used to use Nizoral myself because I read somewhere that the active ingredient Ketoconazole actually had some mild anti-androgen properties that would help in hair loss. [click to continue…]
I wanted to write with regard to all the women on this forum, and specifically because of a recent post I read from Rosalinda. Her story sounds similar to mine, and I recently had an eye-opening dermatologist appointment that I haven’t had time to write about until now.
Let me start out with my hair loss story:
I first noticed my hair loss when I was 18 years old, 4 months after I started taking ortho-tricyclen lo. My hair had been coming out quite a bit in the shower but I didn’t think anything of it because I had incredibly thick hair. You know, hair so thick it makes the hairdressers cringe when they have to blow dry and style it because they know it will take like, an hour. I wish more than anything I could say the same about my hair today! One night as we were about to go out my boyfriend said he was a little concerned that he could see parts of my scalp through my hair, and asked whether it could be due to my pill. Well I became alarmed by my hair loss and began researching it extensively. I got bloodwork done at two different clinics with everything being normal, but I asked them to switch my pill anyway. I picked Yasmin because it is supposed to have anti-androgenic effects. That was 3 years ago. The hair loss never stopped, and my diffuse thinning kept progressing. I have probably lost 2/3 of the hair I used to have… when I put my hair in a ponytail it is barely the size of a sharpie marker. I have been hesitant to quit my pill altogether because I’m afraid I will go through the “dread shed” telogen effluvium and lose even MORE hair. I also get terrible cramps, heavy, long periods, and acne (my face is pristine when I’m on the pill though). However, I’m not really sure if it was my pill that caused it because I do distinctly remember mentioning in the past that my hair felt thinner and easier to manage than usual (this was when I was about 17, as I was getting ready for a homecoming dance). It is all so confusing and difficult to pinpoint. As trivial as most people think hair is, this has been the most traumatic and challenging experience of my life. Sometimes I have to stop myself and thank my lucky stars that I am healthy and I have a good life and my hair isn’t everything. But some days, hair really does feel like everything.
This month, I hit a major turning point. I had a scalp biopsy done by my dermatologist, expecting nothing to turn up. When I walked into his office 2 weeks later for the results I got a diagnosis I had never dreamed of or never researched. Scarring alopecia, due to Lichen planopilaris. My heart hit the floor. SCARRING… seemed so final, like the death sentence for my hair. My dermatologist seemed a little more optimistic though. He said it’s an infection of the scalp, no one knows how you acquire it, it’s just kind of a freak occurrence (why me??). My scalp hadn’t looked inflamed at all, but he said it showed mild inflammation under the skin when the biopsy was analyzed. Even weirder, lichen planopilaris normally presents itself as a patch of hair loss, rather than diffuse. I am still a little skeptical about my diagnosis, but I am following the protocol: antibiotic (minocycline) and topical steroid (olux foam). Together these are supposed to reduce the inflammation under my skin and help stop the hair loss. My derm also said I could try the Rogaine 5% once per day to try and revive some of my recently attacked follicles. He wasn’t sure if it would work though because I don’t have androgenic alopecia. We shall see. When I left the dermatologists office I just broke down and started bawling. Partly out of relief that I could possibly control the fate of the rest of my hair, and partly out of extreme frustration. I had been shouting from the mountaintops about my hair loss to every doctor that would ever listen, and none of them did anything until now. I shudder to think this could have been prevented.
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Debra asked this question on the “calling all thickening shampoo” thread, but I decided to repost it here so that other women can have the opportunity to find it easier and perhaps comment as well.
I love reading these comments. I started loosing my hair about 3 months ago. My family doctor recommended I go see a dermatology. Dermatology told me to use Rogaine for women. I had to stop after a few weeks as I noticed i was loosing more hair. Than I had the biopsy done. Now he is telling me to use Rogaine for men! holy cow. What to do? Need your help please?
Welcome to the site!
I am not a doctor so I can’t give medical advice, but I’ll give you the information I’ve found out over the course of the last 8 years losing my own hair.
Did you recently go on or off birth control pills or any other medication? I don’t think I a personally agree that the dermatologist you saw should have advised you to go on Rogaine after only 3 months of hair loss. 3 months is a very short amount of time and you could have just been experiencing shedding caused by any number of factors.
It is not uncommon at all to start shedding more hair after beginning any hair loss treatment such as Rogaine. The hair shedding should be temporary. After a 1-2 months if the treatment works, new hair should begin to grow, hair growth works in cycles. When Rogaine causes hair shedding it may induce the hair shaft to fall off, the follicle would then enter a dormant phase in the cycle (temporarily) while the matrix is restructured for future growth, hopefully with a thicker and stronger hair shaft. In the meantime through you may lose more hair, but after waiting for several months you may have thicker and stronger hair with any new hair growth, assuming the Rogaine works. [click to continue…]