It took me a long time to realize the severity of hairloss that was in store for me. At first, I assumed that the shedding was due to seasonal shifts and stress and that it would stop naturally. I had plenty of hair and the slight thinning was noticeable only to me. In this stage, I tried Nioxin products and a grow-fast conditioner. I had to switch back to Head and Shoulders when the cold weather led to dandruff, and the conditioner made my scalp itch, so I stopped using it. I added Biotin to my regimen on the advice of a friend, and I took cod liver oil pills and vitamin C.
Again, the hairloss was still incipient, so I just wore my hair up and waited for it to grow out with more fullness.
I saw a dermatologist a year ago for dry skin and mentioned my thinning hair. She looked at my scalp and said that it didn't seem infected or inflamed, just dry. Men's strength Rogain was her suggestion in addition to the Biotin. I bought the Rogain and tried it for a few weeks, but I really disliked it. I was very uncomfortable using potent chemicals anywhere on my body, but especially on my head near my face and eyes, and I disliked the way it made my hair look -- wet and slightly greasy. I gained some fine dark hairs along the tops of my cheekbones at that time and thought it might be related to the product. Also, I realized that Rogain and pregnancy don't mix, and, though I wasn't pregnant, I was in a serious relationship that I hoped would lead to marriage and family and I read about what I could expect when I stopped applying the minoxidil: major shed. For all of these reasons, I just wasn't comfortable using the solution, so I stopped my tentative experiments with it.
My hair wasn't great, but I could still have really nice hair days, and I held out hope that the problem would resolve itself. I was growing to love my boyfriend more and more, and my thoughts were on him and us. I didn't have any kind of balding or visible problem, and it never seriously occurred to me that things would get that bad.
But then this summer happened. More and more hair began to fall out in the shower which distressed me, but then, somehow, I caught a glimpse of the back of my head in a double mirror....!!!!!! My new part (I had never had a part-line because my hair had always been so thick) was plunging down the back of my head like a white scar. I was completely shocked and terrified. The only thinning I had been aware of was at my temples; the hair on the back of my head had always been the densest section of my generally thick hair.
I began to wake up in the morning with (this may sound strange) a hot head. My head would be warm and the hair in the back would be sweaty. It was the summertime, so it was hot, but the rest of my body wouldn't be warm -- only my head. My hair would be greasy and curly due to this sweaty moisture. So, I did what any rational person would do: I completely freaked out.
I set up appointments with a primary care doctor, a dermatologist, and my gynecologist. Being a new patient, my appointment with the PC doctor was scheduled for about three months later. So, I had three months of utter panic to face. Three months of losing hair (permanently?!?!?!?!), of not knowing if I was eating/applying/breathing in something that was causing this follicular devastation, of light sleeps punctuated by searing anxiety attacks, of dreams about being bald, of feverish online research, etc.
Anyway, it was impossible for me to just cool it and wait to see a professional, especially since my online research was suggesting that I might not be met with a helpful, considerate, informed response. So, I made and (amazingly, incredibly, painfully) expensive appointment with a naturopathic doctor which was scheduled for 2.5 months away. I didn't know what to do, so I basically decided to do everything. While I waited to see these doctors, I bought a month's supply of stimulair, but when it arrived, I couldn't bring myself to ingest it. It just didn't seem safe to take such high doses of vitamins without a doctor's approval. I bought an air purifier. I started eating a ton of greek yogurt and drinking Kombucha tea daily. I bought shampoo and conditioner that were paraben and sulfate free. I did the iodine drop test on my arm, decided I was seriously iodine deficient and began taking supplements only to stop in terror when I read that iodine can negatively impact certain thyroid conditions. I ate flax seeds, walnuts, and leafy greens. I stopped drinking coffee (I would never have believed anything could motivate me enough to make me give up coffee). My sunscreen had parabens or something in it, so I switched it for an all-natural one and did the same for my deodorant and toothpaste. Weeks later, I realized that my new fluoride-free toothpaste had carageen or carageeenen or some other cancer-causing property in it, and this was really the beginning of a whole new level of desperation for me because a realization finally began to sink in for me: every single new thing that I was doing to try to improve my health had the potential to be just as toxic and damaging as the old habit I was giving up. Let me enumerate.
That air purifier I got to help me if dust or mold was causing some unperceived physical inflammation? Well, that was emitting EMF and RF radiation like nobody's business and I had been reading that said radiation can cause hairloss. That's why I stopped charging my phone in my bedroom at night and removed my laptop and turned of the wifi at night, etc.
That Kombucha tea I was guzzling to help my gut? Full of sugar and sugar could equal hairloss.
That sunscreen I was sedulously applying to take care of my skin? Could that be contributing to a major vitamin D deficiency?
I sent samples of my hair to England for analysis by a group called Hairgrowth UK. I was told that I had a wheat intolerance, a dairy intolerance, an alcohol intolerance, parasites of an unspecified variety, and toxic levels of platinum, beryllium, fluoride, and mercury in my body. Aghhhhh! I did what I was instructed to do. I started using a water filter, I bought Morrocan Methods shampoo, I took detox baths, I stopped eating wheat, yogurt, and milk-based products. I became a clean maniac. I dutifully bought the zinc and magnesium supplements I was prescribed. I began eating a TON of green vegetables and drinking a TON of water. The only problem was that I started to feel worse not better. I was miserable on this new diet. My family and boyfriend were very concerned about the radical change in eating habits and my terror about parasites which I could not hope to rid myself of unless the people I lived with also tried to eradicate them. I began noticing more frequent stomach cramps and pain, and the Morrocan Methods (I think that's really the way the brand spells its name) was THE WORST thing I have ever done to my hair. It must work for most people, because I found reviews from all over the internet about its efficacy, but, man, it did not help me. And I stuck with it for months! I bought into the detox mentality and believed that it was going to bet better, but it didn't...at all. I could not wash all of the mud out of my hair, no matter how long and hard I rinsed it. My hair was coated with slime that then coated my comb and the boars head brush I bought (another product I tried unsuccessfully). Wow, yes, it was bad.
Meanwhile, I began to finally see the doctors. The gynecologist wanted to test my thyroid but seemed unconcerned about testing my hormone levels. My thyroid panel came back normal. My dermatologist did some more extensive bloodwork. My testosterone was high compared to my estrogen and progesterone levels, but, in itself, it wasn't very high. He recommended I see an endocrinologist if I was sure I didn't just want to use Rogain. The naturopathic doctor gave me a stool sample test, a saliva test, and a lyme disease test. He also asked me to obtain more bloodwork from my other doctors drawn on the 21st day of my menstrual cycle. He immediately endorsed the no wheat, no dairy, no sugar diet suggested by the place in the UK and strongly invited me to start taking four specific probiotics after I sent in the stool sample for testing.
These tests were all very expensive, as were the probiotics. My other doctor was unwilling to refer me to an endocrinologist and was wary of recommending the bloodwork asked for by the naturopath, so I ended up getting half the recommended tests, but getting them twice and my insurance won't cover the second round so I'm waiting for that bill.
The saliva test indicated overtaxed adrenals, the stool sample showed a high fecal fat content (sorry!! TMI!), poor gut bacteria balance, but no parasites and very little candida, and the lyme test came back positive.
So now: I'm awaiting the results of a scalp biopsy, but the dermatologist felt confident that it was AGA, CTE, or a combination of the two. I'm taking four probiotics, avoiding wheat, dairy, alcohol, coffee, green tea, and sort of sugar, taking vitamin D, candidastat, three herbal supplements for the Lyme, vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, something to help my body digest gluten and dairy in case any slip into my meals, progesterone creme, and two other things with code-like names that might be follic acid and some other kind of vitamin. I'm drinking filtered water all day long. I'm starting to see a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist because this is so scary and hard. I'm joining this site for support. And, based on recommendations I read here, I placed an order for two wigs yesterday. Oh, and I pray constantly for relief from this anxiety and negativity, as well as physical healing if that is God's will.