The hair on my head

Like most women, I love my hair.  I love that it’s long, I love that it’s relatively healthy, I love that it’s manageable, I love that I have hair.

Almost no one knows, that for the past year I’ve been battling a private battle with hair loss.  Last Christmas (2013) I started to notice a little thinning of my hair.  It wasn’t bad, but I noticed.  My hairdresser, when I mentioned it, just claimed it was a cowlick and just needs to be retrained.

I’m like, no, dude.  That’s my scalp showing.  Not a cowlick.  I knew that my mother had a little diffuse thinning in her 40’s and 50’s associated with hormonal changes.  But I was 27 years old. Why is my hair thinning?  I noticed a little more shedding than normal.  I noticed more hair loss in the shower.  It freaked me out so much. I started doing everything possible to hide my scalp.  I was embarrassed, so I just hoped it would resolve.

A month later, it was worse.  So I decided to see a dermatologist.  He was an ass.  He basically just said, yup, it happens, use Rogaine and cut down your stress level.

I’M 27 YEARS OLD! There had to be a logical reason why I went from having a thick, full head of hair to barely any at the top of my head.  Telling me to put chemicals on my head for the rest of my life, isn’t going to do much.  I know myself.  I knew something else had to be wrong.  I was stressed, but there had to be more (and let’s be fair, this wasn’t helping the stress level).  

So a few weeks later, I went to another dermatologist.  This time, a woman who was a dermatologist and an internist.  Oddly enough, she’s the partner of the guy I saw at first.  I didn’t know that until later because their practice has two office in Timonium and she was at the other one.

But Dr. S is amazing.  From the second she walked in, I loved her demeanor.  She was calming and actually listened, where her partner didn’t.  First thing she said was, “we need bloodwork because something is wrong”.  I almost started crying because I was so happy I didn’t have to fight someone to get that something is wrong.  She thought there was a deficiency somewhere or something wrong with my thyroid or something.  She didn’t know, but she wanted to investigate. She was also empathetic.  She’d experienced random hair loss, too, so she understood how I was feeling.  She even showed me where in her head she had it and how it’s grown back so far.  It was a comforting exam.

Which, at the time, was all I wanted.  Someone to get it.  She did a full blood work up of me.  Thyroid was fine.  Blood sugar was great.  Cholesterol was perfect.

However, I was so iron deficient, one more digit down I would have needed a transfusion to just start over.  And I was so vitamin D deficient that no one could believe I love milk as much as I do.

Now, these two things alone won’t necessarily cause hair loss, but they surely will help it.  I also had a lot of stress.  I also had, which almost no one knows either, Mono two months before I started noticing the thinning.  I suffered from Mono in September 2013.  I still have no idea how the mono happened (And Devon, lucky bastard, didn’t get it) but it was mild.  I missed all of two days of work and was wiped out for maybe two weeks. I had a mild strain.  But it still killed my entire immune system.  All of those factors together, contributed to the hair loss.

By the time I found this out, I’d lost a lot of hair.  My derm told me to never ever use Rogaine (Thanks, first doctor) and to start taking a multi-vitamin with iron, high potency Vitamin D, and Biotin.  This was…..almost a year ago now.  I believe I started this at the beginning of April 2014.  I also started going to another hairdresser (actually at the Bubbles in Towson Town Mall) who understood hair loss and helped me deal with it while I’m regrowing.  She showed me so many ways to style it and poof it up to hide the spot; she cut it using different techniques, recommended products, everything.  Danielle is amazing.

I saw Danielle yesterday for a trim.  She runs her fingers through my hair and plays with it a little and goes; “Steph, your hair looks amazing!”  I don’t believe her, of course.  She’s like, “no, seriously.  Your hair probably isn’t fully back yet, but it’s probably a good 80% back.  It’s thicker and fuller and it’s SOOOO healthy, I only need to trim maybe half an inch off, if you like the length”.  I was floored.  I’ve never heard such complements about my hair.  She won’t even let me color it because it’s healthy and she wants it to stay that way.

She forced me to look at the back of my head and the top (which I just usually don’t do because it’s depressing) before I could leave yesterday.  You can barely see any issues.  It’s still a little thin, but I almost started crying because it looks so much better.  She flipped through it and let me see the hair and the scalp and everything.  I have an appt with Dr. S over spring break and a blood work up to see where my levels are.  But, I can’t believe how much better it looks.

It might sound so silly, but it’s so traumatic to be in your 20’s and suddenly, your hair is gone.  It was so traumatizing for me.  It was so hard.

I went home last night and was like “Devon look at my hair!!”.  He’s like, “a lot of it is back, I know I’ve seen it”.  I’m just all, “WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU TELL ME!?! AND WHEN DID YOU NOTICE?”.  He apparently noticed a couple weeks ago when I fell asleep on the sofa one night.  My head was visible to him and he saw that it looked fuller in my scalp.  He’s like “You wouldn’t have believed me if I told you, you would have just thought I was being nice, so I figured I’d wait until Danielle or your doctor told you.”

Then I kicked him.

No, I didn’t.  At least not hard.

But I did take a picture before I started treatment because I had to see what it looked like.  It was so bad.  I also took a picture this morning because I had to see.  The improvement is so drastic. I can’t believe how much is back.  It is still a bit thinner than it was originally, but I can’t see my entire scalp anymore.

before current

I never thought I would share the pictures, but I am.  It’s amazing.  I love my derm.  I want everyone to go to her.  I keep playing with my hair because it’s down today for the first time in months.  Just marveling at how much I’ve missed doing it.  I feel like I have part of myself back.  It’s just….nice.

7 thoughts on “The hair on my head

  1. Hey! This post is great and the first time I’ve read an experience like this for someone my age. I’m curious, how come the derm didn’t recommend minoxidil?

    So glad you’re feeling better, it’s really inspiring to see your pic and reading the post has given me confidence all will get better one day.

    Cheers
    Hollie

    1. I apologize for the delay in replying, this went to spam for some reason.

      Minoxidill is only temporary, as soon as you stop using it your hair loss begins again. My first derm suggested it and nothing else, which is why I stopped seeing him. My derm (who I love) searched for reasons behind my hair loss rather than to just say it was environment or stress and looked for ways to correct the problem instead of a quick fix. The regimen I’m on helps longterm which is much better than Rogaine, plus it hurts less than Rogaine does.

      1. Hi Steph

        Thanks for your reply!

        Ah, I see what you mean. Turns out mine is genetic and it seems my only option is minoxidil but it hasn’t worked so well in the past year, even with iron supplements – they want to up the dose to 5% minoxidil which could mean more hair shedding at first. Scary! Have taken your advice and am taking biotin, folic acid and vitamin d for a nutrition boost. Fingers crossed! Hope your treatment is going ok.

        All the best
        Hollie

        1. Genetic hair loss is always harder, I’m sorry that you’re having to deal with it.

          I would also say if you do have to use minoxidil, make sure you’re using a good shampoo with it that will keep your scalp healthy. Your hairdresser or derm could probably recommend a good one that might also have volumizing to help make your hair appear fuller.

          Good luck!!

  2. How much vitamin d, iron and biotin were you taking? Its amazing how your hair came in. I am going through the same thing, dr told me to go in rogaine and its the only thing that will help. I refuse to belive that. I also massage my scalp with olive oil and rosemary oil, went to all natural shampoo/conditioner.

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