Help Needed for Extreme Hair Thinning Caused by Tap Water'

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Name: Rachel

Question: My three daughters and I are in our second round of extreme hair thinning. The first time, we had moved into a home with lead. Now, we are 5 months into moving into a house with tap water with extremely high chlorine and fluoride. Our scalps are dry, burning and our hair is falling out severely. PLEASE HELP. What do you recommend??? We can't move again.

Shampoo shower hair wash advice waterAnswer: Hi, Rachel. We understand how distressing this hair loss must be for you and your family.

High levels of lead or chlorine in the water can cause hair to become dry and weakened but this usually results in brittle or damaged hair, with hair breakage along the shafts seen, rather than hair loss from the follicle. This type of breakage can make the hair appear thinner and more frazzled than usual, but it is not technically a hair loss condition so should be fairly easy to remedy via haircuts and strengthening, nourishing intensive conditioning treatments in addition to not using tap water for washing your hair until the issues with the water have been fixed.

However, we would certainly advise you to have a professional consultation - either in person at a hair loss clinic, or online where you can upload photos - in order to get a confirmed diagnosis of the problem from a hair specialist. In some severe cases chemical trauma may be present either instead of breakage or in addition to this.

Furthermore, the stress of these incidents as well as that caused by moving homes, could have contributed to thinning hair from a temporary condition known as Telogen Effluvium. This tends to present around three months after being triggered, and can cause shedding from all over the scalp. However, as long as the cause is removed, will generally resolve itself in up to six months, though certain treatments may help to accelerate this process.

You do not say which country you live in but if you are in the UK, you can ask for a report of your water quality from the local water board. If this is found to be in any way unsafe, they will be obligated to address this and you can speak to the water board and the council about getting this matter resolved. Either way, in the meantime we would recommend using bottled water whilst you explore water filters for your home, or the use of tablets designed to remove chlorine from the water, as a longer term solution.

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