Hair Loss FYI Pt. 1: Telogen Effluvium

First, I’d like to wish all of you a happy fall….into winter. If you’re in Texas, I’ll wish you a happy remainder of summer and winter twice a week! I’ve decided to start an informational blog series on hair loss which is major concern for many people of varying genders, ages and ethnicities. Because there are so many different causes of hair loss, I figured I’d take this little by little so as not to be overwhelming.

Photo courtesy of hairlosstreatment.com

I’ll start with a common hair loss issue, telogen effluvium.

Before I begin, it is extremely important to know that hair shedding is a normal event for all humans and the telogen phase is a normal part of the hair’s life cycle.

Telogen effluvium is when a large number of hair follicles go into the resting phase simultaneously. There are three types of telogen effluvium with the most common being the result of unusual stress that the body has gone through. Telogen effluvium can often be experienced by individuals who have crash dieted, undergone weight loss surgery, or gone through some other event that has caused their body stress like illness. Although not exactly sudden, the individual may notice that their hair is thinning a couple of months after the event while grooming their hair (washing, blow drying, combing, etc).

The good news is that telogen effluvium does not affect the follicles and the condition will eventually reverse itself once the stressor is removed.

Another form of telogen effluvium is when the hair follicles don’t remain in the resting phase but the cyclical growth phase is so short that the individual will see shedding and the hairs that are shed will be shorter than usual (indicating an interrupted growth cycle).

A last form of telogen effluvium occurs more slowly and is characterized by follicles that enter into the resting phase in a standard manner but not re-enter the growth phase for an extended period of time. Therefore, although the individual may not notice constant shedding as in the stress-induced type, but thinning.

Causes

There are several causes of telogen effluvium. Besides the dietary deficiencies I mentioned earlier, life events like delivering a baby (post-partum shedding), trauma, and medications (both oral and intravenous) can cause the hair to go into the telogen phase. One possible offender that some may not realize is exposure to toxic chemicals. Even chronic conditions can trigger this (often disheartening) event.

Cures

I am commonly asked what can be done about this type of telogen effluvium. In general, the way to treat telogen effluvium is to treat the cause. Be patient and allow the body to return to its equilibrium by removing the offending stressor. For example, if crash dieting is the cause, a healthier diet that integrates more iron and other vitamins and minerals will help end telogen effluvium. If you recently gave birth, the hormonal shift will eventually return to its normal status and the hair should start to re-enter the growth phase. If medication is the culprit, get with your healthcare provider to seek options that do not have the same side effects.

If you cannot determine the cause of your hair loss, see a doctor (usually a dermatologist) and see if they can point to a cause. If they can’t, they may be able to prescribe something that can at stimulate hair growth however if the underlying cause is not removed, you’ll likely need to continue with the prescription in order to prevent the problem from recurring.

Next time, I’ll be blogging about anagen effluvium.

Until then, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

 

*Photo courtesy of hairlosstreatment.com

 

First Things First: Positive Self-Image & Its Role In Hair Health

We at Cute & Kinky get to do a lot of traveling and we meet a lot of individuals from different walks of life. They all have specific hair concerns and needs. They inquire and we try, as best we can, to answer their questions. The most prevalent question we get pertains to hair growth. They ask questions about when and how long it will take them to grow hair down their back. They ask why their hair is short or why their hair “won’t grow.” They ask if the product will make their hair grow. They ask how they can make their curls look more curly and less coiled. They ask how they can make their hair “lay down” around the edges. They await my response with wide eyes and baited breath that soon fade when I tell them the truth about hair growth or the fact that the moisturizer won’t make their coils look like Shirley Temple. Then, some say that they are “afraid” to go natural (although it’s more like a return to natural) or let their real hair be seen and proceed to use all kinds of negative adjectives for their hair to explain why. This happens across age groups and even genders.

Besides the interactions that I have with customers, I came across a post this week on my personal Facebook feed that made me upset first, but sad soon after. The plot was that a father  wanted his 1 year-old daughter to get a relaxer.

You’ve probably guessed by the title that this blog will be a little different from the last two and you’d be right. If you’ve read the “About Us” section of the site, you’ll see that we are a company that is based on the belief that self-acceptance is the best thing that anyone can do for themselves. This message follows in our choice of imaging online and in person. The reasoning for this is that how you feel about yourself plays out in how you treat yourself. What you love, you nurture. What you love, you give time and effort.

Oftentimes, we find that many individuals have damaged hair as a result of their desire to try to disavow, hide, or transform their hair in unhealthy and hasty ways. Most of the time, the issues they face are easily remedied with a consistent regimen of safe hair care practices. However, what concerns me more are the negative images they’ve embraced as standards that brought them to the place of wanting to escape who they are.

While I completely stand by any individual’s choice to wear their hair the way they want, I want it to be a choice that they made because it makes them happy; not because it is an effort to dismiss themselves or be someone or something they are not. I don’t want it to be a choice that was born out of the need to shroud who they are or what they look like to be more socially acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong, at some point, most, if not all, of us put a towel, blanket or shirt over our heads and pretended to have long hair . At one point, we innocently pranced around the house flipping that blanket or towel or blouse from side to side in a quest to fulfill the desire to be like the images we were exposed to like Barbies, Disney princesses, models and television game show eye candy. We wanted to have some semblance of what many of us were told, either explicitly or implicitly, was not an attainable goal for us (either in length or texture). As we grew older, it was apparent that those images were emblazoned on our minds and we did everything we could to attain our desired looks with real adult tools and methods. Most of us can attest to the fact that grace is likely the only reason we have any hair at all after the teenage experimentation we conducted on our heads. However, many individuals get caught in an enduring cycle and several years past adolescence, they continue to grapple with their own image and the images in their mind that tell them they are not enough as they are.

So what does this have to do with hair health?

I’m not into hair typing (I’ll explain why in a later blog) but I don’t care if you have type 2, 3, or 4 hair. In order to have healthy type 2, 3, or 4 hair, you have to take care of your hair as it is. Treating your 4 like a 3, 3 like a 2, or 2 like a 4 will cause your hair more stress than it is built for and always leave you unhappy about who you are and how you look. Trying to turn your hair into something it wasn’t built for will be equally unsuccessful. Show your hair that you love it as it is by spending more time truly nurturing it and less time trying to make it do something that it’s not designed to do. Leave the quick fixes alone because your hair is a part of a living, breathing, functional entity: YOU!

Unfortunately, the images that tell us what we should be in order to be more acceptable will never end. We will never be able to dictate what Madison Ave. wants to bombard mass media with. We cannot control what even some Black hair companies present to us in terms of imaging. However, what we can do is make sure that we keep a grasp on who we are and treat ourselves accordingly.

You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.