I have been treating women experiencing hair loss for the last 3 1/2 years at Medi Tresse and during that time I have seen quite a few patients at the office and received a number of phone calls and emails from patients panicking over excessive shedding. Clumps of hair in the shower, hair all over the bathroom floor, kitchen floor, in the laundry, all over their clothes etc. Some of these patients had been having success treating their hair loss and were now facing a set back!
The medical term for excessive shedding is Telogen Effluvium (TE). TE can be caused by anything that causes stress to the body: significant weight loss, poor diet including not enough protein and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, certain types of medication, medical issues, loss of a loved one, etc. TE can also happen seasonally with spring and fall being common times during the year that women see this excessive shedding.
When a patient comes into the office, calls, or emails me to report excessive shedding I always start by trying to tease out the cause of the shedding, which will help to determine the course of action. This can sometimes be challenging!
For example, over the last few weeks, I have been experiencing significant shedding myself. I have been panicking in the shower because I went from losing only a few hairs per day to a handful of hair with every shampoo! I find myself continuing to pull my hands through my hair until nothing else comes out, but it seems to go on and on and on which obviously makes me panic even more!
I have found myself thinking “hmm… this is probably the stress that I am undergoing right now over the coronavirus. I am working from home while taking care of my children, homeschooling and entertaining them, feeding them and cleaning up after them all day long and being with them all day long with no break, worrying about my family and friends and missing them because I cannot see them in person, worrying that the coronavirus may go on for longer than they are telling us, dealing with new startling information every day and fixating on all the news coverage, worrying about my finances and especially worrying about my husband who is a detective and still going to work every day and could potentially be exposed and get sick or even give coronavirus to me and the kids!”
At the same time, I am sitting here thinking ”could this be a spring seasonal shedding? The timing is definitely right for that too, although I don’t remember this happening to me in years past!”
Diet is always a concern for me, which has me also wondering, “am I getting enough protein? Maybe not, I will need to keep better track of this!”
Maybe this is a combination of all three. I know that if it is a spring shed it will eventually stop on its own. I am going to focus on getting at least 60 grams of protein every day to ensure that this isn’t a factor and if it is the sole cause, I know it will stop once I establish consistent intake of 60 grams per day for a period of time.
If my shedding is largely due to the stress of the coronavirus I know that my shedding may continue for awhile and that I have to try and not stress too much over it. During this situation there is only so much I can control, so I will focus on those and take steps to minimize my stress by getting exercise daily, limiting caffeine and alcohol, eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and taking a little time for myself every day. In terms of treatments, I have made sure that I am more religious about taking Nutrafol supplements daily which is something that has significantly helped me in the past to minimize shedding. Ashwaganda, a stress manager found in Nutrafol, is especially important for me right now! I am also making sure that I do not miss any sessions with my LaserCap, which is another option to help minimize shedding.
It is important to remember that shedding caused by stressful events, like having your life disrupted and living in social isolation, may not begin until 3-6 months after the stressful event. Also, not everyone experiences shedding from stressors in their life. However, if you are prone to shedding, we would recommend being proactive and making sure you are not only taking steps to destress, but make sure you are on a good hair health supplement like Nutrafol and consider utilizing a Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) device like a LaserCap.
Lastly, please know that we are here for you. If you are out there stressing over your own shedding, pick up the phone and call us or email us! We are happy to talk to you about your shedding and help you tease out the cause and find the best treatment for you.
Posted by Diana Gallerani, NP