‘Is Dermatologist’s Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss Diagnosis Right?'

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Question:  I have been experiencing severe hair loss for 8 months until the last couple of weeks where my shedding has significantly decreased. I have been to see a dermatologist who reassures me that I have a classical case of telogen effluvium. I am now seeing a lot of new baby hairs sprouting and am terrified to see that some of these are thin and colourless, like that peach fuzz I have heard so much about when reading about hair loss. I am worried what this may mean. I went back to my dermatologist who is adamant it is a telogen effluvium as the loss is diffuse and lost half my hair in the space of two months. However my hair has suddenly also gotten very oily and is requiring daily washing unlike before I lost my hair when I only washed it 3x per week. I am also seeing my hairline receding and I am struggling to come to terms with all of this because up until 8 months ago I had masses of hair down to my waist. Is there a possibility a dermatologist can get a diagnosis wrong?

Wash Your HairAnswer: Hi, Danielle. It is hard to diagnose the cause of your hair loss without examining your scalp but, going on just what you say here, we do agree with your dermatologist.

It sounds like you have been experiencing Telogen Effluvium - or possibly the longer-term issue, Chronic Telogen Effluvium. Both of these are temporary hair loss conditions that mostly affect women.

Telogen Effluvium tends to last no more than six months and, given the length of time you have had it and the fact that hair thinning from these conditions doesn't tend to become noticeable until three months after it has been triggered, Chronic TE, also called Diffuse Thinning could well be the cause of your shedding.

Another possibility, and one that is quite common, is that you had an existing but dormant genetic predisposition to Female Pattern Hair Loss which was triggered by the initial Telogen Effluvium. As you talk about a receding hairline as well as thinning hair this sounds like the diagnosis I would be most confident in, however, I would need to check your scalp and pattern of hairloss before confirming this. Telogen Effluvium, in both forms, affects the whole scalp whereas Female Pattern Hair Loss only causes thinning hair across the top of the scalp and hairline. It is also possible to have both conditions simultaneously.

It sounds as if your hair is starting to regrow naturally, which is great news. The regrown hair can have a short life cycle at first, hence it sheds and should grow back again normally. If genetic hair loss is present, the hair in the affected areas will become thinner and you may notice a general decrease in hair density, as well as your parting becoming wider.

Female Pattern Hair Loss is a permanent condition which, if you would like to prevent hair thinning, requires daily management. There are a number of hair loss treatment options that can address this - as well as promoting regrowth from the conditions you may be experiencing. The best thing to do is to get a second opinion in order to put your mind at rest. If you would like to speak to a Belgravia hair loss specialist you can do so either by making an appointment at one of our Central London or City of London clinics, or if you based elsewhere in the UK or abroad, our online consultation may be more convenient.

With regards your oily hair issue, we recommend washing your hair daily, as you mention, with a gentle shampoo; this will not harm the hair, or cause it to shed more than it would otherwise, and it will keep the scalp clean and healthy. Freshly washed hair also tends to look thicker so it has cosmetic benefits too!

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