Shedding on my bedding
July 11, 2011 4:38 AM   Subscribe

My hair is falling out. Seeing as I'm too female for male-pattern baldness, is there anything I can do to help?

OK, so I know everyone loses a bit of hair each day, but mine seems to fall out a lot. I'm always picking loose hairs off my clothing, or the desk, or from my fingers if I run them through it. I'm not seeing any bald patches, but my hair is thin, and shedding constantly is irritating.

I can't see a trichologist as the NHS only refer people with alopecia! In comparison this is a small problem. But it is still bloody annoying.

- I am borderline anaemic, and I take Depakote and citalopram, which I know don't help.
- I have a very itchy scalp often, with white bits, though this has lessened since I tried to avoid SLS in shampoo. I use a conditioner each time I wash, though not a lot as my fine hair gets weighed down and greasy.
- I leave my hair to dry naturally, mostly, and I tend to comb it with my fingers as brushing it tends to make it flat, lifeless and shed more.
- My hairdresser noticed that my hair was broken when I last had a cut a month ago. I do get split ends, but the hair that drops out seems to have the 'bulb' of the root on the end.
- I dye my hair but only when there's a bit of root regrowth. However, last year I didn't dye my hair for a little while and my hair dropped out as much as before.

What will help? Different shampoo, nutrients, making a wish on the loose hairs?
posted by mippy to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Does your hair also happen to be turning gray? Hair does it naturally (just like falling out) but if it's losing pigment as well as falling out, you may be malnourished. Are you sure you're getting all your vitamins and minerals from your food?

That's the first place I would start.

I speak from experience. Also, haven't found multi-vitamins have helped much with the malnutrition aspect.
posted by royalsong at 4:44 AM on July 11, 2011

Telogen effluvium is a possibility, especially if you've gone through some physical or mental stress a couple months ago and have recently started to notice an uptick in hair loss.

Or, are you growing your hair out? I seem to be especially sheddy when my hair gets past shoulder length. I'm not losing more hair, it's just that the longer strands are easier to notice.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:55 AM on July 11, 2011

Here is a general article on female hair loss. As royalsong says, you might try taking a multivitamin and see if that helps things.

In my case, my hair loss problems turned out to be caused by thyroid problems, but I had a number of other symptoms that caused me to be tested for the thyroid problems, not just hair loss.
posted by gudrun at 4:59 AM on July 11, 2011

Any chance you could have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? PCOS can cause both excess hair where you don't want it (like on the face) and loss of hair where you do want it (like on the scalp).
posted by Georgina at 5:00 AM on July 11, 2011

I have a very itchy scalp often, with white bits

Have you had this looked at by your doctor? Its probably dandruff (you don't mention using dandruff shampoo for this problem?) but it could also be something else like psoriasis. Scalp inflammation can cause hair loss - as can low iron levels, are you taking a supplement for it?
posted by missmagenta at 5:05 AM on July 11, 2011

Anemia and hair loss are both symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Have you had your thyroid tested?
posted by booksherpa at 5:18 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I believe a Depakote side effect is hair loss, that could be contributing as well.
posted by kellyblah at 5:19 AM on July 11, 2011

My GF takes evening primrose oil to help with hair loss
posted by Jacen at 5:23 AM on July 11, 2011

Scalp flakes won't make your hair fall out. However using dandruff shampoo might make it seem like you're losing more hair, because when it gets out the flakes it often takes loose hair that's attached to it.

You should get your thyroid checked - ask your doctor to order the lab tests, it's just simple bloodwork.

However I think it's probably the depakote.
posted by radioamy at 5:53 AM on July 11, 2011

My mom started losing her hair because she has Hashimoto's disease. You might want to get checked out for thyroid problems.
posted by empath at 6:41 AM on July 11, 2011

Response by poster: but it could also be something else like psoriasis
I went to the GP last year with the same view, and she insisted it was head lice. It wasn't.

I had my thyroid checked a few months ago, but there was no problems there it seemed.

I wondered whether the scratching at my scalp might have an effect, but I'm not doing that as much now. I was prescribed a prescription-only shampoo for psoriasis eventually, but I'm back to the regular stuff now.
posted by mippy at 6:55 AM on July 11, 2011

Last year, about four and a half months into a low-carb diet that caused me to lose about 10% of my body weight, my hair started falling out a lot. It took me months to discover my serum ferritin level (iron reserves in the body) was extremely low - just 7 ng/ml (the permitted range for women is 12-150 ng/mL, with the ideal being somewhere in the middle). My regular iron numbers were still fine, but the reserves were seriously depleted. There is some controversial evidence that this is linked to hair loss in women.

It took three months of Slow-FE supplements daily (available over the counter here in the US; I got mine at my doctor's recommendation) to halt the hair loss. My hair is now not too bad again, I have about three inches of new growth, but it was very scary at the time.

My serum ferritin is now at 27.7 after six months of supplements.
posted by Dragonness at 7:19 AM on July 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

Dermatologists are the doctors to see about hair loss.

When I had a round of hair loss a couple years ago, the dermatologist asked me whether I had, in the several previous months, had been seriously ill or had lost a lot of weight. He said either scenario would have been enough to cause the problem.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:37 AM on July 11, 2011

My hair was falling out due to major illness, meds ect. On a suggestion I started using a high protein shampoo and conditioner and I can't tell you how much it helped. Most of the shampoos were expensive so I did some research and tried Loreal Vive Pro. It is in the bubblegum pink bottle.
For about $5 a bottle it is worth a try. Good luck.
posted by ForeverDcember at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: fingersandtoes - as I said, unless I see a private dermatologist that isn't an option until things significantly worsen.

I don;t think Vive Pro is made over here but high protein might be worth looking into.
posted by mippy at 8:20 AM on July 11, 2011

Have you started taking a new medication? That can cause a six month-ish cycle of hair loss.

Do you have any symptoms that suggest a hormonal imbalance? Eg, irregular menstruation, more-than-average body hair elsewhere, ovarian cysts, PCOS, newly overweight? If you've got some kind of goofy androgen imbalance, that can cause hair loss.

I had some hair loss that was either caused by a new medication or by weight stuff; losing about 15 recently-gained pounds so that I was back at my normal-fattish-Frowner weight and going off the medication stopped it.
posted by Frowner at 9:36 AM on July 11, 2011

The gene for male-pattern baldness exists in women, too, but it typically results only in thinning hair. Might be that.
posted by rhizome at 9:41 AM on July 11, 2011

You haven't mentioned if you're taking birth control, but many hormonal methods can do this to you.
posted by Addlepated at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2011

Might I recommend looking for Nioxin shampoo? I don't know why you're losing yours, but I lost a bunch of mine after a bout with pneumonia, and Nioxin really helped.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:52 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you sure it's not just that you observe the hairs that fall out, because you're looking for them?

I have very, very long hair so it's obvious when I shed a hair. I lose a lot of hairs every day, enough to be noticeable, enough to be all over me and Mr. G and the floor and and. If I haven't brushed my hair yet in a day and run my fingers through my hair, I get quite a few hairs coming out into my hand. It's been this way for years and the thickness of my hair hasn't changed.

So I wonder if you're just focusing on the hairs you notice more than other people do, not that you're losing more hair than other people do.
posted by galadriel at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2011

Assuming you have medium to long hair, how do you wear your hair when you sleep? If you're using tight elastics or wearing your hair down completely, the action of your head rubbing on the pillow can cause quite a bit of hair breakage and loss. I find the best solution is to braid your hair before going to bed (a favored trick for long haired women in the victorian era) and secure it with a fabric covered elastic. What we in the U.S. called "scrunchies" back when they were popular in the 1990's.
posted by katyggls at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2011

I have the same problem with gobs and gobs of hair coming out all the time. I have long hair and the longer it gets, the more that comes out. I have to clean the shower at least 3 times during a 10 minute shower, cause it clogs it up. When I get out my legs are covered in my hair. We eat and my hair is in food, or all over the bed. My kids even give me back my hair!

Maybe it's stress? Or maybe you just naturally shed a lot.
posted by Sweetmag at 11:55 AM on July 11, 2011

Do you have the brand Redken? They also have a good product under their "Extreme" line called "CAT."
posted by ForeverDcember at 12:14 PM on July 11, 2011

I think Dragoness has it. I too was diagnosed as severely anemic and was told to begin taking iron supplements. I have noticed a marked increase in the thickness of both my hair and nails in the 6 weeks I have been on this iron supplement. Please note: my serum ferritin level was lower than Dragoness. Be careful with taking iron supplements as there are many side effects to consider.
posted by Lynsey at 12:53 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

My sister is a dermatologist. She is 35. Even though she has no noticeable hair loss, she says it is thinning on the sides near the temples. She uses Rogaine regularly. It really does work, and she recommends it to her patients.
posted by Falwless at 1:57 PM on July 11, 2011

You're getting lots of good advice, but I'll add-

I had significant (noticeable) hair loss a few years ago, and I've always had an itchy scalp. Dandruff shampoos of all kinds never worked. Then I tried Tea Tree oil (using a q-tip to rub it on my scalp once or twice a day) and it worked miracles. I read that this was so because tea tree oil is an anti-fungal and some scalp build up is caused by a fungus, and is not dandruff (gross). Anyway, after using it consistently my scalp issues have mostly disappeared and a lot of the hair has grown back, enough so that the thinning is not usually noticeable.
posted by bearette at 8:07 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far!

I have a bob, so it isn't too long. When I wash my hair I lose a lot, but that could be because the hair is weaker when wet and rubbing in shampoo might cause breakage. I don't tie it back because it isn't long enough.
posted by mippy at 3:12 AM on July 12, 2011

« Older If you transplant the head, is it a brain...   |   Your experience/advice re Articulate or similar... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.