I'm a 24-year-old female with severe hair loss from Accutane, and it's only getting worse. How do I get past this, emotionally and practically?
I started on Accutane at age 21, my junior year of college. My dermatologist explained to me that I might have dry hair and some hair loss, but that it would return to normal as soon as I stopped treatment. I finished a six-month course of Accutane; a few months after that, my hair began falling out in huge clumps in the shower. Two and a half-years later, I have lost over half of my hair and it is still falling out at an alarming rate. It has dried out completely and does not hold moisture at all -- it has become limp, dull, and lifeless. My scalp is visible in some parts, and it is dry, and itchy. I see tiny bits of hair growth, but the hair is weak and breaks off at about the 2-inch mark. (It's also pretty curly, so I can somewhat hide the bald patches.)
I am afraid to comb it, and I can barely take a shower any more without crying halfway through.
I saw another dermatologist as soon as my hair began to fall out, and he told me that I have Telogen Effluvium
. From what I understand of the disorder, it's supposed to be temporary and only lasts about six months until after the inciting incident (in my case, the Accutane) has been removed. But when I saw the same doctor six months later, when my hair was still falling out, he told me the condition may be permanent, and that all of the hair on my head was essentially "dead" -- so it's only a matter of time before it all falls out.
My acne was severe, and in many ways I became more confident and outgoing in the months I was on the medicine due to the fact that, for the first time since middle school, I didn't have gigantic cysts on my face anymore. I started dating, having sex, and looking people in the eye. I just didn't realize that the tradeoff would be like this, and now I'm having trouble coping with the fact that I won't ever be beautiful. I feel like a freak. (Who loses her hair at 24?)
I am embarrassed and ashamed to tell my boyfriend (my very first one) for fear that he'd leave me. I am incredibly distraught over this. Is there ANYTHING at all I can do about it?
Other notes about me that may be relevant:
- I'm bipolar II, and currently taking medication for this. (Recent.)
- I am currently on birth control. (Also recent.)
- I recently got blood tests done, and nothing is wrong (except that I have low Vitamin D3 levels - I'm now taking about 1000 IU of D3 to hopefully make up for it.) My mother does have a thyroid disease though and suffered hair loss, so I get that checked regularly, too.
- I take fish oil tablets, a hair vitamin, and b12.
- I use natural hair products without parabens, petroleum, or sulfates.
- I am willing to do almost anything to get my hair back to normal, including try Rogaine -- I've heard that it irritates the scalp, and that once you start using it you can't stop because the hair growth will stop also. Is this correct?
What would you recommend, MeFites? I want to attack this on two fronts: I want to be able to deal emotionally, and also find practical solutions to the problem. I can't hide from it any more.
(One more thing: Please let's not get into a debate about the harmful effects of Accutane, or lectures about what I should have researched or done before I decided to take the medicine. I'm obviously already beating myself up for that, so thanks.)