Eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect huge numbers of us, regardless of age or gender. Eating disorders come in many forms, though the most common and well known are anorexia, where food intake is severely limited, or bulimia, when food is purged after eating. Without treatment, eating disorders can be a problem for the sufferer indefinitely, and the consequences on the body are numerous.
In terms of hair loss, it’s certainly possible that an eating disorder can cause excess shedding. This could be down to a number of reasons. Firstly, those with an eating disorder that involves limiting food intake or purging may not be getting enough essential nutrients for hair growth.
You can find out what a diet that allows for healthy hair growth should include by reading our blog post on eating for great hair. If you’re finding it hard to include all these foods in your diet consistently, nutritional supplement Hair Vitalics is a great way to top up your levels of key vitamins and nutrients.
Shock to the System
Another way in which eating disorders can cause hair loss is shedding due to telogen effluvium. Because the hair system is considered ‘non essential’ in terms of your body’s functioning, when it is under extreme stress, such as from an eating disorder that restricts its access to essential energy-forming foods, hair may enter the telogen (resting) stage of the cycle early to allow the body to divert energy elsewhere.
If telogen effluvium occurs, hair should grow back once you are in treatment for the eating disorder. Thinning hair from this temporary hair loss condition happens around three months after the precipitating event, so if you’re in recovery when it starts, don’t be alarmed. Chronic telogen effluvium may occur if you’re still struggling with your eating disorder, though this is quite rare.
If your hair is struggling to return to its previous condition whilst you seek treatment for your eating disorder, a diagnosis from a hair loss specialist can establish whether your shedding is due to your eating disorder or down to genetics (androgenic alopecia). Hair loss due to your eating disorder could have masked the onset of male or female pattern hair loss (which occurs due to a genetic predisposition and can be triggered by Telogen Effluvium), though again this is quite unusual.
When To Treat Hair Loss
Men and women can both use the topical treatment minoxidil to treat their hair loss. Applied to the scalp twice a day, minoxidil has been licensed by the MHRA and approved by the FDA as a hair loss treatment, and can achieve excellent results in terms of regrowth.
For men only, a second proven medication can be used to treat thinning hair. Propecia, which blocks the androgen DHT that causes hair loss by shrinking hair follicles, comes in pill form to be taken once daily. Because women cannot benefit from Propecia, Belgravia’s minoxidil contains added ingredients that appear to block DHT when applied locally. These medications then combine with regular check-ups and support from your dedicated hair loss specialist, and a variety of treatment boosters to help improve and maintain the hair’s condition.
Of course, being a hair loss blog, we’re unable to address all the potentially dangerous side effects of an eating disorder, and if you’re seeking more general information we recommend you visit the website of charity Beat, which has extensive information and advice, or consult your GP.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.