Can Plant-Based Hair Products or Allergies Cause Hair Loss?'

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Name: Amy

Question: I have been experiencing alopecia as well as diffuse hair loss since April or May of 2014. The hair loss generally occurs early spring or September or October. The hair loss also coincides with use of natural, plant-based products for my hair.

I am wondering if it’s possible that these products could be causing my hair loss?

I have severe seasonal allergies which include birch pollen grasses, some nuts, ragweed, and potatoes (touch). I get allergy injections but at times my reactions are still high. I’ve never had any hair loss prior to using plant-based products.

Answer: Hi, Amy. We would need to know more about the hair products you are using in order to give you a fully personalised response to your hair loss query.

We recommend having a consultation with a hair loss specialist - either in person or online - in order to determine the precise cause of your shedding.
However, below are a number of issues you should be aware of, relating to your situation, and which you may be experiencing.

Natural haircare products and plant-based formulas

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As before, we would need to know more about the specific haircare products you are using to be able to advise as to whether they are likely to cause hair loss or not, but there are a few issues you can look for.

If you are allergic to any of the ingredients, this may cause temporary hair loss from a condition called Telogen Effluvium, each time you use them.

Telogen Effluvium tends to take around three months to present and appears as diffuse thinning from all over the scalp. It can be quite extensive and, therefore, distressing, but it generally only lasts for a maximum of six months. Telogen Effluvium treatment is available, though in most cases hair regrowth should occur naturally once the trigger has been removed and the hair growth cycle gets back on track.

Always ensure you read the product information leaflets and/or any instructions on the packaging and follow the directions to minimise the risk of adverse events. Some hair products, and medications, cause hair loss as a side effect and this should be noted by the manufacturer.

Reaction to allergies

It may be the case that your use of natural or plant-based hair care products is simply coincidental; Telogen Effluvium can also be set off by severe allergic reactions not relating to products applied to the scalp.

As you mention you suffer from a number of allergies and the effects can be quite harsh at times, this could be the culprit for your occasional hair thinning. Try to keep a note of when your hair loss starts - if it is around three months after a bout of bad allergic reactions, this is likely to be a - if not the - significant factor.

Seasonal shedding

Your hair grows in a cycle of three phases - anagen (growth), catagen (transitional), and telogen (resting). At the end of the resting phase, the hair sheds to allow new hair to come through. This is the reason why you see strands of hair falling daily, with an average daily fall of 50-150 hairs.

Although each strand of hair is in a different phase of the hair growth cycle, it is normal for hair to shed more than usual at one point of the year; this is known as seasonal hair loss.

People generally experience one large seasonal shed annually. This could occur in any season, however, it is not uncommon for there to still be a slight increase in shedding with every seasonal change, as you mentioned, yours occurs in early Spring and early Autumn.

Hair loss or breakage?

Hair products are unlikely to cause such hair fall as they do not sit for long enough on the skin to allow significant absorption. As most products sit on the hair, it may be possible that these products could be drying the hair, causing it to tangle, become dry, brittle and break.

Hair breakage may give the appearance of frazzled, thinning hair, but it is not actually hair loss as it does not affect the follicles. It occurs when weak or damaged hair snaps along the shaft.

The key difference you may notice between Telogen Effluvium and hair breakage is that, with breakage the hair does not fall from the root. Whereas, Telogen Effluvium will involve the hair shedding with a white bulb on the end, followed by short, tapered regrowth approximately three months later.

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The Belgravia Centre

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