But I digress… A huge issue I hear a lot of patients complain about is hair loss during said illnesses. It’s scary when your once thick gorgeous hair is thin and coming out in clumps. Every time I would touch my hair I was pulling some out, and my hair looked and felt like paper. I’m a skincare & beauty lover, and although hair was the least of my worries health-wise I still got very stressed out over it. I spent a big chunk of time googling info on what to do and why this was happening. However at that time I came up with very little info on why hair loss happens when you have Lyme Disease.
So I took matters into my own hands. I started to think about hair loss associated with disease on a deeper level. What makes our hair grow? Well vitamins & nutrients for one are vital, which I was depleted on, so that was one thing I knew had to change. I started a variety of vitamins, and really I would recommend getting checked for vitamin imbalances and supplementing those as needed.
Next I thought about it at the root of the hair itself. Often times hair will fall out if the scalp has an unfavorable Ph balance, and I found out that chronic illness can severely mess up the scalp Ph. So I bought a shampoo called Nizoral. Although it is intended for dandruff, trust me on this one. The main ingredient in Nizoral is Ketoconazole, which is an antifungal but also works as a DHT-blocker, thus lowering inflammation on the scalp. It actually helps a lot in hair loss situations due to a scalp imbalance. Within 3 months of use 3x a week my hair was totally different. My hair dresser noticed how much healthier it looked, which to me is the ultimate good sign
As time went on & my health went from dire to stable I also noticed more improvement. I saw my dermatologist, explained my findings, and this is when I learned I was suffering from something called TE (Tellogen Effivium). TE is a condition which happens when the body is under lots of stress. You see, our hair grows in cycles. Hair growth cycles all vary, and at any given time your hair is either in a growing stage or in a sleeping stage. Your hair does not grow evenly all at once. Those hair follicles which are “asleep” at any given time wake up when the time is right and begin to grow new hair in place of the old ones you shed. It’s a nice little cycle that takes place in perfectly timed intervals so that we aren’t ever bald but we have fresh hair. When you get TE the stress causes this “sleeping” stage to extend.
The American Hair Loss Association explains the 3 ways T.E can develop:
1. There might be an environmental insult that “shocks” the growing hair follicles so much that they decide to go into a resting state for a while. This results in an increase in hair shedding and a diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp. This form of TE can develop rapidly and may be noticeable one or two months after receiving the shock. If the trigger is short lived, then the hair follicles will return to their growing state and start producing new hair fibers pretty quickly. This form of TE usually lasts less than six months and the affected individual has a normal scalp hair density again within a year.
2. The second form of TE develops more slowly and persists longer. The hair follicles may not all suddenly shed their hair fibers and enter a resting telogen state. Rather, the follicles may enter a resting state as they normally would, but instead of returning to a new anagen hair growing state after a month or two, they stay in their telogen state for a prolonged period of time.
This results in a gradual accumulation of hair follicles in a telogen state and progressively fewer and fewer anagen hair follicles are left growing hair. In this form of TE, there may not be much noticeable hair shedding, but there will be a slow thinning of the scalp hair. This form of TE is more likely to occur in response to a persistent trigger factor such as stress.
3. In a third type of TE, the hair follicles do not stay in a resting state but rather cycle through truncated growth cycles. When this happens, the individual experiences thin scalp hair and persistent shedding of short, thin hair fibers.
Luckily TE is NOT permanent. Your hair will re grow and the follicles are not permanently damaged. It’s almost like the stress paralyzes them into not growing as they should. The two main causes of T.E are stress and poor diet, which with Lyme disease often both are occurring at once. Even if we eat a healthy diet, often time most of it does not get absorbed, leaving us with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
TE lasts as long as the stress lasts, so there isn’t a miracle cure, but you can rest assure if you are one of many who are experiencing this, then it’s likely not serious. My biggest worry being in my 20′s was that I would soon be bald. But it’s not the case. If you had nice hair before the illness then it’s not gone forever! If you want to stop the cycle now & help your hair regrow sooner then I recommend using Nizoral with a good scalp massage, because it's been shown to help with T.E. In fact, massaging the scalp in general helps the hair to grow so I would often lay in bed doing that on dry hair during the day. Also, good high quality hair masks are very helpful to rebuild the keratin bonds in the length of the hair. I used this Virgin Hair Fertilizer which puts nutrients directly back into the length of the hair. Together they helped my hair be shiner and stronger as well as speeding up growth. I used the Nizoral for about 6-8 months and then stopped because the pH balance and hair loss seemed to be okay and it can be drying if used too long. Since then I just pulse it in about 1-2 times a month for good measure, and have kept up with a weekly hair mask. The photo below shows about 2 years from where I started and where it is now. The key for me was Nizoral and the right hair masks, with lots of TLC!
I hope this post was useful to some of you struggling with similar situations.