Loss. That’s the name of this blog post but perhaps I should have named it courage.
We all need a great deal of courage to survive much less thrive through the things that happen to us… don’t we. After the realization of loss, comes grief.
Grief. That deep mass of water we dare not slip beneath because the darkness and what we fear that could be lurking in its depths. It takes a great deal of courage to grieve and continue on, but it is part of the cycle of life.
As we discuss hair loss, I acknowledge that some of you are so full of sorrow, sadness and disgust that the culminating grief is all you have left to contend with. Everything below is meant in the spirit of sympathy to provide you with knowledge and to provide you with some comfort through the feeling of community.
Let’s discuss three common types of hair loss.
Undiagnosed Hair loss: The common question we receive on Tousled is a simple one. It goes like this. “Yo! My hair is falling out and I’m not cool with that. What do I do immediately, I’m walking in the Dior Show next week and my hair has to be on point!” My immediate response is (of course) is, “Do I have tickets? (with a heavy caveat) I need not sit next to Anna Wintour however, please do not set me next to a vacuous movie star.” Secondly, “I hope my (at least four star) accommodations have been arranged.”
Really though, the number one answer to this question is the most basic and therefore the most infuriating. You stressed homie!
· Stress - Any kind of physical trauma, surgery, a car accident, or a severe illness, even physical illness can cause temporary hair loss. Take an honest assessment of what’s going on in your life. If necessary, tell someone you trust (but who may not necessarily know) what you’re going through. If you see their eye’s widening with fright… could be your stress levels are higher than what you perceive they are. I myself have NO CONCEPT of stress until I’m nigh onto dead on the floor and even then I’ll raise my excuse me finger to rationalize why the feral cats are circling my nearly dead person.
The Good news! Your hair will start growing when you get your stress under control.
Manage your stress by:
1. Clearing The Clutter - Chaotic environments create more stress, says Susan Biali Haas, MD, wellness expert and author of Live a Life You Love. “Taking a few minutes to clean up can automatically make you feel better,” she says.
2. Think Good Thoughts - Remember that amazing vacation you took? How about that blissful vibe you felt on your wedding day? When you’re stressed, imagining yourself in a safe, happy place can be very helpful. Happy memories can help you calm down from negative emotions.
3. Sip on This - That jittery feeling you get when you’re anxious—your central nervous system may be to blame, says Dr. Milosavljevic. That’s because your CNS can become overstimulated when the body tries to process chronic or unrelenting stress. “Try lemon-balm or passionflower tea: Both are thought to calm the central nervous system,” says Dr. Milosavljevic. What’s more, the act of stopping what you’re doing to perform a ritual— like making tea—can also help take you out of your stress spiral.
Postnatal Hair Loss – Some of my friends who are newer moms to some of the most beautiful jealousy inducing babies I’ve ever seen have come at me sneak attack style literally saying the following.
First, new mom’s, I want to tell you that you guys are so brave and wonderful and it absolutely sucks that your hair has to be a cause of concern on top of sleepless nights, exercise regimes, hectic resumption of work schedules and keeping the eating, demanding, pooping. non-speaking thing (whose neck and head don’t work) alive.
Officially, the term for this particularly lovely (face palm) side effect of pregnancy and childbirth is postpartum alopecia. As many as 90 percent of women will have a form of it. Estrogen levels increase during pregnancy, which can prolong the growth phase of the hair. This means less hair falls out, making what you have gorgeously thick, healthy and shiny. The penny (or armored car full of change) drops after you’ve given birth. Your hormones revert to normal and the hair that was supposed to fall out, but didn’t, comes out all at once. ‘There’s not much you can do to stop this but, with good haircare and dietary habits, you can encourage regrowth.
There’s Good News! Your hormones will level out and your hair will start growing again.
1. Keep your hair healthy by eating well and continuing to take your prenatal vitamin supplement.
2. Be extra gentle during your shedding season to prevent excess hair loss after pregnancy. Shampoo only when necessary (as if you have time to shampoo at all!), and use a good conditioner and a wide-toothed comb to minimize tangling. Use scrunchies or barrettes to put hair up, instead of rubber bands — and don't pull hair into tight ponytails.
3. Skip blow-dryers and curling and flat irons if you can, and put off any chemically based treatments (highlights, perms, straightening) until the shedding stops.
Alopecia: Alopecia is defined as a loss of hair from the head or body. Baldness can refer to general hair loss or androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). Some types of baldness can be caused by alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder. The extreme forms of alopecia areata are alopecia totalis, which involves the loss of all head hair, and alopecia universalis, which involves the loss of all hair from the head and the body.
Let’s talk a bit more about a few types of Alopecia.
1. Alopecia Areata: Is a condition generated when the immune system of the body targets the hair follicles and disturbs the natural hair growth and formation. The cause is still unknown. Alopecia areata is oftentimes linked to other autoimmune conditions like ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vitiligo, thyroid disease and allergic disorders. Alopecia areata in some cases happens in several members of the family, indicating a role of heredity and genes.
2. Alopecia Totalis: It is an auto-immune disorder resulting in total hair loss, but on the scalp only. It is a condition intermediary between alopecia areata and alopecia universalis.
3. Alopecia Universalis: This is the most advanced type of alopecia. Like the name indicates it means that the person who has this disorder has total hair loss all over the body. Because absence of hairs in the body leaves areas like nasal cavity, eyes and scalp very exposed, it is very important that those with this condition take special care to guard themselves from the bacteria, sun and other extremely dangerous elements.
Is there good news? : We encourage you to do a couple of things if you have alopecia:
a. Find Support – There are many groups that can send you information and also provide you with support groups to help you create a sense of community, with individuals who are walking this journey with you. Support helps. Tousled recommends: The National Alopecia Areata Foundation https://www.naaf.org/find-support
b. Stay informed – Alopecia is more than an autoimmune disorder that takes your hair out. It can be linked to other autoimmune conditions like ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vitiligo, thyroid disease and allergic disorders which need management as well.
c. LIVE! – As hard as it may be as deep as the grief, embarrassment, loneliness, self-effacement, anxiety and fear may be. Find your joy. Learn more about healthy ways to live with alopecia areata, like finding support in a group setting.
This post is dedicated to Heidi.