Dealing with Hair Loss: Telogen Effluvium, Stress, & Products I've Tried

Seven months. That is the last time I've tried to write any sort of post on this blog. No drive, no time, nothing to write about-until now. I figured I would share my experience with my hair loss and what I am trying to do to reverse or slow it, all the while trying to stay positive. This post got lengthy, really fast, so I will try to make it easier to navigate.

Background
First off, if anyone tells you "it's just hair" when you start losing it, they do not get it-at first.
When I noticed my hair thinning, I freaked out. I was sad. Mad. Confused. I mean I barely put heat on my hair. Occasionally dye it, but no bleach. My diet is extremely clean, except for one  or 2 cheat days here or there. I worked out. I felt fine. Stressed, tired, but overall healthy. I frantically researched what could be wrong, bought supplements and products, and booked an appointment with my doctor that later led to a dermatology appointment. Family and friends said, "it's not that bad. It looks a little thin, when you show me, but it is not that noticeable. Fast forward about a month. I compare pictures of the thinning (at that point) to the prior month to my boyfriend, family, and friends. No hidden reactions-pretty much everyone either made a face or said, "Oh wow!" K guys, thanks, I appreciate the support. Kidding, but really, it did kind of hit me harder at that point. I was waiting on my derm appointment, and just trying to ignore the hairs that were piling up in the shower, on my pillows, and on my clothes.

Eventually, I got to see a dermatologist. Diagnosis: unknown. Probably a number of factors, like stress, a recent illness (hand, foot & mouth that I picked up from a kiddo at work-side note, I am a pediatric RN), the new job (I had been working as an RN for about 3-4 months at this point)and maybe a traumatizing event that had recently happened (horrible and realistic episode of sleep paralysis that occurred to my boyfriend and I at the same time, and has since affected my ability to sleep). Overall, most likely Telogen Effluvium.

The What
If you're not sure what TE is, aocd.org says it is: "when some sort of stress causes hair roots to be pushed prematurely into the resting state. Telogen effluvium can be acute or chronic. If there is some sort of shock to the system, as many as 70% of the scalp hairs are shed in large numbers about 2 months after the "shock". This sudden increase in hair loss, usually described as hair coming out in handfuls, is acute telogen effluvium. "

My dermatologist said the stress could be mental/emotional (work, family or social life, etc), physical (new diet, workout routine, or recent illness), or any other stress factor.  Since I had so many possibilities for a cause, I think she just rolled with that diagnosis. Treatment? Sit it out, just wait. Be good to your hair. Eat a healthy diet. Take Biotin, hair skin & nails, or prenatal vitamins. Limit damage to hair. Don't have tension on the hairline (such as a tight ponytail or bun). 

What I did is all of the above. I also started doing a ton of research, bought a few more products, and came to terms with this whole TE thing. I would do my hair but try to ignore the areas of thinning. Don't ask me how you ignore parts of your head that are there when you are physically touching them and styling them, but I guess I just mentally blocked it out-I didn't want extra stress about hair loss to increase the hair loss even more! 

Losing it

With everything I did to try to decrease the hair loss, and promote new, I would say I lost maybe 35% of my hair. Is that horrible, compared to those that lose 50-70%? No. Is it still hard. Hell yes! I am a female. I like my hair. I like to have my hair, to style it, to show off my personality. So when it starts thinning out, and I have areas where my scalp is showing through streaks of my hair, I am going to be bummed. I am at the point where I still try to ignore the loss, and I realllllly try to promote new growth, but I am also just waiting. Waiting for my body to say "HEY! Grow hair, grow!" TE takes time. Your body has to be ready for the hair follicle to come out of this "resting phase". The fortunate thing about TE (if that is what this is) is that most cases do not result in complete baldness. I do not even want to think about that! 

Mostly, for me, it has just caused an extra insecurity. It also is scary to think, "hey, hopefully this is TE and not something else". I did have a full blood work up, and everything was fine-no anemia, no hyperthyroidism, etc. I do not like the what ifs. What if its something else? What if this is permanent? What if it never grows back. If I have a baby one day, will I lose even more hair after birth? So many questions. I do my research, I try my best, and then I just ignore it. 

Side notes:I do switch the side that I sleep on. Some nights I sleep left, some right, and some on my back. I try to be gentle with my hair, but I've been told multiple times that if your hair wants to fall out, its going to no matter how gentle you are (hmmm?) I do rotate where I part my hair, and have done so for years (prior to all of this).I still eat a balanced diet. I would like to get a silk pillowcase, because I have read they are much more gentle on your hair. I still take my vitamins, and try to stay positive.

The research for the next best thing is always on-going. I hope to wake up one day and be like, "woah, that part line is looking mighty thick girllll". Or not. Maybe just my old normal. I've never had thick hair. My hairdresser always said, "you have such fine hair, but a lot of it". Note to self-cherish "fine but plentiful" hair if it all comes back. This could be my new normal... but I am hoping for the best! Hopefully by sharing this, someone can share something with me, that worked for them. Maybe I can help you with something I have tried. I'm no doctor, (just an RN guys), just someone looking for answers. Right now, I feel like I am still loosing hair at the same pace as when I first noticed the hair loss. I have been taking vitamins and doing this and that for about 6 months. About 2 months ago, I thought maybe I was seeing some improvement. Not necessarily new growth, but a slowing of the hair loss. Maybe I got lazy with routine, was not gentle enough, or stress took over, but I feel like I am back to where I started some days. Others I do see some progress. So.SO. Confusing.

Fun facts (because we have to joke about this or I will just be eternally sad):
1. Counting individual hairs in the shower that pile up is tedious work. Have you ever tried to separate 10 fine hairs from 10 other fine hairs?!
2. When you condition your hair, you can be certain that a lot more hair is about to end up on your shower floor. Thanks conditioner, 'ppreciate ya.
3. Said showers = wet hair. Wet hair and thinning areas do not go together. Everything looks wayyy worse when hair is wet. Avert eyes from mirror. Or just take all your snapchats then so you can joke with friends about it (again, I try to get through this with humor, lol).
4. Personally, curling my hair (and then washing it a few days later) results in a lot more hair loss. Look real cute with some beachy waves and take one for the team or just walk around with boring stringy hair. Oh, the struggle.
5. "I don't want to put heat on my hair, I can't go out"-statement to avoid being social and instead Netflix & chill alone with popcorn and Halo Top Ice Cream (possible perk? Eh?)
6. "I don't want to damage my hair"-statement for why hair always looks a hot mess.
7. Accept the fact that your bathroom may or may not look like it was featured on a hoarders show. I'm a sucker for anything with "for thinning hair" or "promotes a healthy scalp". Okay advertising, ya got me.
8. "It's just hair" is a statement that is said over and over. Yes, it's just hair. But I am someone that likes my hair. I am probably vain for that, right? I like to look nice. For me, personally, having hair that I can style to accentuate my "personality and other great attributes that realllly matter" is kind of important. I can't change that. Honestly, my personality and general attitude when I am down about my hair is probably not that fantastic. So let me wallow in my sadness for a minute. Then, I will snapchat you the worse possible angle and lighting of a thin area and we will both laugh. 

First, let me take a selfie
I will include a few pictures below for reference. Pretty recent, definitely horrible quality and angles. I can promise you that taking pictures of your thin areas does not qualify for a good time. 

 Dry hair. The top picture shows the diffuse thinning. Bottom picture is the 
ever-expanding part line. 
Hair right after washing. 
Styled hair. Apart from just looking like I have fine hair, you can not really see the results of TE when my hair is style and not pulled back/tucked behind my ears (fortunately). You can see the widened part line and thinning hair right at the scalp if you are close enough in person. 

Things I have tried 
First, let me say that I do not know if one specific product helped me. I will continue to use these products that I am listing, in the hopes that they are doing me some good. I did however choose these products based off of research, other testimonials, and general reviews of the products. I would love to do a separate post on a specific product if requested, but due to the fact that this post is already a mile long, I will spare the details for now. (Most products purchased from Vitacost.com!) 

1. B'iota Botanicals Herbal Care Experts Daily Care for Normal/Dry Thinning Hair Shampoo & Conditioner  (buy at must drugstores like CVS or Walgreens, or Amazon. This is one I would like to review-highly recommend!)
2. Vitamins/Supplements: Zinc, Biotin, and Evening Primrose (deserves a post-supposed to be great for hair loss!) all can be found pretty much anywhere, but I go through Vitacost & Ebates (to get cashback for all this money I am throwing down on this stuff!) 
3. Emu Gold Emu Oil (deserves a review post). Supposed to do wonders for your skin, scalp and hair (or wherever you choose to apply it!)
 4. Andalou Naturals Age Defying Scalp Intensive with Argan Stem Cells For Thinning Hair Serum & Shampoo. I will say that I used all of the serum. I don't know if it necessarily helped, and it was kind of annoying applying it in-between hair washes to dry hair, but I would probably purchase again. The shampoo was not my fave. I didn't really like the formula or smell, and couldn't find a reason to continue using it. 

If you made it this far, thank you for sticking around! I hope to learn more about hair loss, hear your stories, and share product recommendations if you have any. Sorry for such a lengthy post, but as you can tell, I am sort of passionate about this subject! Hang in there if you are dealing with hair loss-it will get better/easier with time! 

Thanks for reading!
XO, Kelsey
Connect with me: twitter here // instagram here// pinterest here // 

**All products listed in this post were purchased by me.

Comments

  1. Hey Kelsey! What is the update on your hair? I was told I have TE and I'm afraid that if it sheds anymore I am going to crazy. Has your shedding stopped?

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  2. Hi Kelsey. Really appreciated your post! I'm currently experiencing my first month of TE and am having a hard time coping. Like you, I have (had) a lot of fine hair. Admittedly I feel vain for getting so worked up about something strictly superficial, but it's terrifying to see my hair fall out in handfuls when I shampoo or brush. Wondering where you are with things now, nearly a year after writing this post.

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