I’ve talked about my hair issues in previous blog posts but I hadn’t really said much about it in awhile. I went to my hair stylist a couple of weeks ago and she raved about the condition and thickness of my hair and using words like “I’ve never seen your hair so thick and full before!” I started going to her when I realized I was having hair loss issues, so she really probably hasn’t ever seen that.
I thought I would give a bit of an update on my hair because I know some people still ask me questions on my previous posts about what I’ve done to get some of my hair back and even just comments that some of you have similar issues and are struggling with it. So, I thought I’d not only update on the current condition of my hair but also just tell my experience with growing it back and what I’ve been doing to help myself and my hair come back to life. I’m breaking this down into a 3-part series (might actually be 4, I haven’t fully decided yet) to make it easier to read and because…I can talk a lot sometimes.
This first part of the series, is just mainly giving some background into my journey with hair loss. It sucks. Plain and simple. It just does. This sounds so dramatic, but losing your hair is almost traumatic for women, especially when you don’t know why you’re losing it.
I was 27 when I noticed the hair at the top of my head thinning out. It felt like it happened really suddenly, like I just looked at my hair while I was styling it one morning and I could just see most of my scalp. I hadn’t noticed it before and it was alarming. I actually took a picture because you can really only see so much of your scalp in the mirror. I decided to share the picture here on the blog about a year ago when I was talking about my hair loss issues and it’s still so jarring to see my head look like that. But, here it is:
That may not seem that bad for those that have had it worse, but for me, at 27, as someone who’s always had a lot of hair (I’ve never had coarse hair, it was always really fine in texture, but I had a lot of hair, so it was thick in bulkiness and volume) to see that was unbelievably upsetting.
I used to work for a dermatologist while I was going through graduate school so I knew that looking for a dermatologist might be a good idea to find out what is going on. Now, at this time I was recovering from a bout of Mononucleosis, which I still don’t know I got and at 27 getting Mono is….weird. Even my doctor was perplexed. Devon didn’t have it, nor did he get it, which was great, but I still don’t know where it came from. So, in my head, I’m thinking maybe the Mono did it and hopefully it would grow back; but I needed real, concrete answers.
I met with one dermatologist who essentially just told me to cut my stress level and to try Rogaine for Men (because this looked like a male pattern baldness) and gave me a prescription for a hair regrowth serum and a note to come back in 6 months.
I kind of felt defeated after this visit. I know Rogaine is only temporary and won’t actually regrow hair permanently. I tried the prescription and it burned my head so badly, I washed it off within minutes and was just sobbing the entire time. Partly because it hurt and partly because I just felt so helpless and because I felt like the doctor just kind of brushed me off; I was frustrated.
I felt like something had to be wrong with me. You don’t just lose your hair at 27 for no reason. So, I looked for another dermatologist, thinking that if this one doesn’t work, I’m going to have to another route. But, I needed a doctor who was willing to listen and willing to maybe find the cause of this issue. I also wanted this doctor to be a woman. The first doctor was a man and I feel like he didn’t understand this issue as well as maybe a woman would. I know that may sound sexist and that’s not the intention, but it was how I felt at the time.
I went to a woman (who I found out later was actually partners with the first guy I saw but because they have two different offices for their practice, I went to the other office when I saw her, so I didn’t know it was all one practice) and explained what was going on and I said to her, “I think there is something more going on with me”. And she didn’t look at me like I was crazy, she actually said, “that’s very possible, that’s why I want to do a full blood work-up and run some tests to see what is going on internally, because often this is a sign of internal issues”. She even warned that it could be my thyroid giving me issues and that she wanted to test that, too.
I was so relieved. Not because I wanted something wrong, but because she was willing to do some digging and try to find a cause. She also hated the thought of me using Rogaine. She’s like, “I want your hair back permanently, not just a temporary fix”. I’ve mentioned before that I love her, and I really do. I still see her once or twice a year to check my hair and for acne/skin issues. If you need a dermatologist and live around Towson/Lutherville, MD or don’t mind going there, shoot me an email and I’ll give you her information. She’s the best.
She ran a ton of tests on me. My thyroid was/is fine, thankfully. But, I was severely iron deficient, severely Vitamin D deficient and my Vitamin A level was a little lower than it should have been. I’d had issues with my iron level for years, so I wasn’t super shocked, but I was shocked at how bad it really was. That coupled with the Vitamin D deficiency AND the mono, she thought all of that combined really just caused a massive hair loss. My body just couldn’t handle all of it together and my hair cycle/growing just shut down in it’s growth cycle.
Obviously, she couldn’t say with 100% certainty that this is definitely the reason, but she did say, these issues individually can cause hair loss, put them together and it’s like asking to lose your hair. So while it’s not completely definite, it’s pretty close to likely all that is why my hair was thinning.
Even without 100% certainty, it felt good to have a reason or possible cause of what is happening. That in itself was comforting. Even when she gave me the caution that while we’re going to try to get my hair back, it’s possible I may not get all of it back. For me, that’s okay, in a way. While I’d love to have the fullness I had as a kid/teen back, if I could at least not feel so self-conscious about it and have some of it grow back and be somewhat normal again, that would help.
And she didn’t make me feel crazy. I think that was the most comforting of all of this. She was so supportive and comforting and made me feel like she was in this with me to help me get myself back together and healthy again. That alone was a huge relief and a huge help to me.
Stay tuned, next week I’ll talk about some of the treatments I’ve done and what my doctor recommended for me!