What a birthday present, sudden hair loss at 27! – Michelle’s hair loss story

by admin on December 24, 2007

What a birthday present, sudden hair loss at 27! Michelle's Hair Loss StoryAbout a month ago I went to the Dr. because I noticed a severe increase in the amount of hair I was losing in the shower and when I brushed my hair. I am an active duty military member and I don’t know about ‘civilian’ Dr.’s but the one’s on base just seem to shrug off any medical condition as stress related these days. She actually said to me “I used to have really thick hair too; sometimes our hair phases get interrupted and it’s nothing to worry about.” I took a blood test to check my thyroid and she said it was ‘normal’, which to me means nothing because I’ve never had a thyroid test before so how does anyone know what my ‘normal is?! I don’t know if the Internet helps my plight as there seems to be almost an over-abundance of information out there and it’s sort of overwhelming me at the moment.

I just want to know what’s going on. I feel so helpless and I am usually such an in-control person that this is killing me. It started about 3 months ago; I lose about 200 hairs everytime I wash my hair and another 100 or so when I brush it. I am not on any medication and am completely healthy otherwise, no birth control, no nothing! I am honestly to the point of being afraid to touch my hair. I have short hair dark hair and it’s really beginning to be noticeable where my part is. I hate wearing a wool coat because I shed all over the back and collar!

I hate being so obsessed with something that has never been an important part of who I am. I never took more then a minute with brushing it and putting some gel in it. Whereas I used to complain about how thick it was, I am wishing I could go back in time. My partner tells me it’s going to be fine and there’s nothing noticeable but I can tell and it’s driving me nuts. I even started seeing a counselor to try and relax a bit and began taking pre-natal vitamins. (A pregnant friend thinks I’m overreacting and that it’s normal. Only problem is I’m not pregnant!) My mother, grandmother and even great-grandmother still have beautiful thick heads of hair so I don’t know what’s going on. If anyone has any advice or anything, I just feel so out-of-control right now. I just finished reading Taylor’s story and compared to her I feel like a real wuss. =(

-Michelle
————————————–

Dear Michelle,

Thanks for taking the time to share your story. I feel like there must be something that is causing your hair to shed at an accelerated rate. No birth control and no medications certainly eliminates a big section of the reasons why women’s hair begins to fall out. You didn’t indicate whether or not you’ve recently (over the last 6 months) experienced something traumatic or an extreme stressful event. Stress still is, and can be a possible cause of telogen effluvium (shedding) although I think often times it gets the bulk of the blame when the real cause is something else.

You also hit the nail right on the head when you indicated that your “thyroid” test is normal. What is normal? It’s not like we have been getting our thyroid tested annually since we were born. I’ve had my fair share of issues with thyroid and it’s primary treating medication, synthroid. Doctors frequently dismiss concerns about hair loss since it isn’t something that can “kill” you. I’ve actually been told that. My opinion on that is that it can certainly kill our spirit, and who we are. Sometimes we lose ourselves as we begin to withdraw more and more because of our hair loss. I frequently hope I’m bigger than that, not to let something like hair loss take such control over me and my life. But it already has, now I’m trying to get it back.

You have been shedding for such a short time, although I’m quite certain it must seem like an eternity. It is very possible that something threw you into a telogen effluvium and it will resolve itself on it’s own in time, I think it’s too early to tell. Any slight change in hormones could cause shedding. I do think that you should see a more specialized doctor. You should definitely get more bloodwork done, also testing your estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, just to see if anything is amiss. Although I must warn you, those frequently come back as “normal” as well.

Hair loss and obsession go hand in hand. It’s impossible not to get obsessed about something you feel you have no control over and that is affecting your appearance. You do have something on your side, the fact that your mother, grandmother and great grandmother have great hair, it is possible this isn’t genetic androgenetic alopecia (female pattern hair loss.) How about your father? grandfather? brothers? I never thought I would lose my hair since my father and brothers have great hair. Later I found out that my father’s mother had hair so thin with a bald crown that she grew her hair long and braided it on top of her head to conceal the bald areas. Also my mom started losing her hair post menopause. My mother’s father was also bald, and my father’s father was bald. The genes were there for me, I just kicked them in early. You didn’t take birth control which is a big plus in this situation.

I would tell you not to stress about it, and wait and see, but then I might as well tell you not to breathe also. Hair loss is so very stressful, no way around it. But the truth is if you can’t find anyone in your family (both sides) with hair loss, then perhaps the “baldness gene” isn’t there and you are just going through a bad shed that will subside. Definitely consider seeing a doctor who specializes or frequently treats women with hair loss.

Please keep us updated. You may find that the shedding begins to taper down on it’s own. I hope so.

~Y

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle December 28, 2007 at 7:36 am

Thanks for responding to my story, I appreciate the support. As far as stress goes I haven’t had anything traumatic or life threatening happen, no surgeries or anything like that. The only thing stressful has been buying a house, I travel a lot for my job and I was in Australia when all the paperwork and loan application stuff was going on. The 3 days it took to get back was stressful but I wouldn’t think enough to cause such a severe physical reaction like this shedding. I am sort of hoping that it was though because I came back in early Sep and the shedding started in mid to late Oct.

I went and saw a trichologist at a hair clinic in VA and he took a look at my scalp through some microscope thing and said I had too much sebum being secreted. He had me get these DHT blocking shampoo and conditioners and a vitamin that apparently has saw palmetto in it. I’ve been trying it for almost 2 weeks now and when I shower it seems to help, a lot more then the Nioxin which didn’t work at all, but it still hasn’t let up.

This shedding is the worst, I keep finding hair everywhere. I hugged my brother on Christmas and when I pulled away there was one of my hairs dangling off his beard! Do you know if taking a multivatamin with iron will help control it?

Marianne December 28, 2007 at 10:49 am

I highly recommend taking a multivitamin daily! I don’t know if will help your hair but it could…also you might want to get you ferritin checked which is your iron storage. If your ferritin is low it can cause hair loss but I wouldn’t supplement with iron until you have the test because too much iron can cause hair loss as well. Supplementing with biotin can help. There is not much in a daily multivitamin so you could do that as well. I’ve read that taking 2.5 to 3 mg of biotin a day can help. It is not one of those supplements that can cause problems if you get too much…I think you just pee it out!

I would also get copies of your thyroid tests and make sure they ran free T4 and free T3 because they could have only ran a TSH and total T4. I am finding that normal levels aren’t always normal for some people. I am hypothyroid and have been losing my hair since July and I sometimes wonder if it is ever going to stop. I was dx on Sept as hypo and started taking medication and my levels are so-called normal now but my hair continues to fall out.

Did you have your testosterone levels checked since you are using a DHT shampoo and a vitamin with saw palmetto in it?

Good luck! This is very hard to deal with! I am in VA right now for the holidays too. Where wondering were the trichologist at? I am willing to go see any doctor at this point!
Marianne

Marianne December 28, 2007 at 10:51 am

I meant to say…I was wondering where the trichologist was located at in VA…sometimes I say things in my head but my fingers can’t keep up!

Michelle December 28, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Thanks Marianne, I have a follow-up with a dermatologist on base but that’s not until the end of January. I will ask them to send over my lab results when I go and test my hormones as well. What would I be looking for range-wise for the ferretin and free T3/4 levels?

It’s over in Arlington/Alexandria outside DC. Forgive me I live in MD and don’t get over there much. It’s called Trichology Hair Solutions and I saw a gentleman there by the name of Bobby Spence. Nice guy, he even gave me a trick for clearing up my acne, anti-histamine and cranberry juice daily and go figure that one seems to work.

I leave for Israel tomorrow so I’ll give you their phone number now. They do hair laser therapy but I told him I just wanted his opinion on what was going on and he didn’t pressure me into any products, 703-212-2000.

It’s funny you mention the biotin, I bought a bottle of it and I guess I got the dosage wrong and was taking 3 pills when I was supposed to take 1 a day. Oops. Maybe that was what was helping slow the shedding though.

Thanks again for the heads up on the tests, I appreciate it. Good luck!
Michelle

Marianne December 30, 2007 at 8:13 pm

The biotin will help with growth but I it won’t stop the shedding since whatever hair you are losing now probably went into the resting stage about three months ago. I have been taking biotin (2.5mg) everyday since October and it is making my nails grow like crazy…maybe my hair is too…unfortunately I am losing the long and short hairs.

Thanks for the info on the trichologist, I am down in Norfolk area but actually just drove past Alexandria this past weekend to visit relatives past Baltimore. Crazy traffic!!

Lisa January 16, 2008 at 11:34 pm

I am a military spouse living on an airforce base. I’ve been having hair loss since Nov 2006 and my daughters started losing their hair soon after. Are you able to stay out of your house for a while to see if the problem stops? We moved out two times since last summer and both times we had new hair growth and all hair loss stopped until we moved back in this house. I’m still trying to find answers. Since it gets my active duty husband in trouble when I have said in the past “it’s the house” causing these problems, I won’t say that but there are some detectors and tests you can buy. I’ve bought mold tests and a radon detector. It didn’t stop the hair loss but our radon was too high so a radon-reduction system was put in. There are at least 3 other women near me losing hair too. Have you talked to other people to see if they are losing hair? Just document everything with pictures, video and writing stuff down. I’m also saving our hair in dated zip lock bags. You can also get copies of your medical records to see exactly what they tested for. Mine was done on base so it wasn’t much they tested me for.

admin January 17, 2008 at 8:47 am

Hi Lisa! Welcome to the site! Where are you located? I wouldn’t be surprised if environmental factors could cause hair loss. The hair loss shedding, stopping and regrowing phases all take sometime to transition from one to the other. How long where you out of the house when you noticed an improvement. If it was immediate I’d venture to say it was a coincidence, but if it was a month later, definitely a possibility you may be on to something. What do the women near you say about it.

~Y

Michelle March 5, 2008 at 6:02 am

Lisa,
I wish but I don’t live on base and I just bought my house so there’s no way I’m leaving now. For as much money as a house in the DC area was, I will live with the hair loss. :)

I did go to a follow up with a dermatologist on base and she said my thyroid and iron, ferretin and all were good so there was no medical reason for the loss. Of course she prescribed some topical steroid betamethasdone (sp) to see if it was maybe an inflammatory thing, she doesn’t know but at least she was honest. I travel a lot, going back overseas Monday for 3 weeks so I don’t know if the stress causes it but I’m going to try and Zen out on the flights.

I’m not a quiet person so I’ve been telling everyone about the weird hair shedding. My boss, family, co-workers, my masseuse, counselor, you name it I’m telling em and asking for advice. So far everybody just tells me to stop worrying and it’ll stop on its own. I did buy a new shower head that filters the water to see if that will help though, don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but it seems to make the dreaded shed in the shower a lot better. And it’s got a bunch of different settings so that’s a plus.

It’s kind of weird, I know I need a haircut, but ever since this shedding started my hair looks dead and just no body at all and I don’t want to cut what I may not have at the end of the year. And the greys are really standing out now, how come they don’t fall out? Anyways, I’m hitting month 6 and if the web sites and Dr.’s are right this should be tapering off soon, hopefully.

I really am glad I found this site; you all have been very supportive of one another and answered a lot of my questions so thanks.

Michelle

gcap February 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Hi Michelle,
I see this post was from about a year ago but I was curious if you were still seeing the trichologist in VA. I just made me “free” (I hope!) consultation with them for this week. Just wondering a bit more about your experience there. Did you try any other solutions through them other than the shampoo? Hope things are going well for you.

Vicky May 27, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Hey I’m writing to ask anyone here about the pattern of your loss. I have aga and noticed it first thinning in the temples but now its affecting my hairline. Dr Redmond says its normal for women to have this pattern as well as when the hairline is in tact with thinning behind it. My question is does anyone here have my pattern? Does it become so obvious that you have to wear your hair over your forehead. Please help thanks!

Lisa October 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Hi Everyone,

Just came across this site, and so glad there are people whom I could console with about my hair loss. I’ve moved to pennsylvania from jersey about 10 years ago, and the first year I moved here, I noticed my hair thinning. I soon find out that pennsylavania state has alot of radon. I’ve noticed alot of women up here have thinning hair. I have talked to some women up here and they have told me the same thing, alot of them are from jersey or new york and since they moved to pennsylvania, they have noticed there hair thinning.
I’ve never seen so many women in one place with thinning to bald heads.
I BELIEVE it has to do with radon, but everyone laughs.
My mother though has lived up here for 20 years and has a full head of hair, but me and my two sisters hair is thinning really bad. My sister is almost bald.
I’ve been so embarrased by this, I resulted in using toppik cover fibers to cover my all over thinning. Not too sure if this is good for me, especially for the 4 years I been using it. It is chemically made of course.
But I cant go out without putting it on. (to embarrased). Dont know what to do! Help!

Martha June 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Funny, I grew up in PA, and while there is lots of radon there, I always had a lot of hair. I’ve lived in the NYC area for the last 15 or so years, but about 3 yrs ago I moved to Dutchess County (Poughkeepsie area) where there is also a lot of radon. I had my son, finished nursing, began losing my hair and never stopped. My son is 3 now, and I’ve been noticeably losing my hair for almost 2 years. Let me just say how scared and obsessive this has made me!! Of all the problems with my appearance that I could (and do) have, I never thought it would be this!!

By the way, I found this site because I was searching on hairloss due to radon exposure, so I’m starting to wonder… So far nothing with the blood tests…

Martha June 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm

By the way, does anyone else have a probem with pimples on their scalp? I’ve had this problem forever, but it has intensified over the past 4 or so years. Almost ALL shampoo exacerbates it. Help!!! I’m going to be bald with an ugly, scarred-up scalp to boot!

Martha

Sarah September 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Greetings Ladies,
I can go on for eons about my story but to make a long story short, acupunture and herbs for hair growth and blood circulation are seeming to help my diagnosed “scarring” hair loss. I’ve been in treatment for 9 months now and and am finally seeing new hair growth after a year of shedding. Though my dermatologist put me on Arecia 25 mg and derma smooth for my scalp for the next year (started about 2 months ago). I also had and IV iron infusion (ferritin was 21, normal 80-100) about 4 months ago which I believe is also helping with the regrowth. My acupunturist said she doesn’t see “scarring” and that the MD’s don’t know what they are talking about (a biopsy determined this diagnosis). I haven’t seen substantial growth, yet, but I’m definately seeing new growth. I can’t say for sure what treatment is doing the most good. But I did notice the new growth before the dermatologist’s regimen. However, I didn’t think a little east and west expertise could hurt;-)Though I was informed that acupunturists who were actually school in China are the best providers. I also wouldn’t take any chances of buying herds from any source other than an acupunturist. Please email with any questions. I’m in a hurry to pick my daughter up at the bus stop.

druiz April 26, 2014 at 8:08 am

Hello I have an appt next week with Dr. Bobby Spence can anybody let me know if his product work?? can hi help I’m suffering from hair loss for 1 year and is getting worse I went to a dermatologist he did bx and blood work and everything was good I have been trying clobetasol cr ,ovation shampoo, none of those products work for me . I think is the water so I’m going to start using bottle of water to wash my hair please any comment or suggestions , thanks

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