Another Dermatologist Visit For Hair Loss

Another Dermatologist Visit For Hair Loss
September 16th, 2010

dermatologist hair lossAnother day, another dollar(s) spent at the Dermatologist to treat my ongoing hair loss. About a month ago I had this Dermatologist visit for hair loss. That “hair loss expert” refused to do anything other than tell me I had Androgenetic Alopecia, and get over myself for being unhappy about it. I really wanted to get started on Spironolactone to see if that would help, and I made yet another Dermatologist appointment with a doctor that has a “special interest in female hair loss.” I was really hoping she’d prescribe the Spiro (or even Propecia), but despite begging her three times, she wouldn’t.

No more Telogen Effluvium?
The new doctor was nice, and much more understanding than the last guy. First she did a pull-test for Telogen Effluvium and she said only one hair came out, even though she did it in several areas. I still lose big handfuls of hair every day, so losing only one hair was shocking. Every doctor over the past 10 years, except the last one, said I had TE. Many of the things I’m still trying to fix (low iron, low thyroid) cause TE, so if I don’t have it anymore, then does that mean my lowish iron and slight thyroid problem isn’t causing hair loss? I probably only lose 100 hairs a day (which is normal) but is it really  normal to lose 100 hairs a day when you have 70% less hair than you used to?

More blood tests
I begged the last Dermatologist to do a few simple blood tests, but all he was willing to let me check was iron and ferritin. My ferritin came back at 55, which is still a bit low to grow hair according to some doctors, but it’s better than it has been. I have been experimenting with a lot of different iron supplements lately (along with Vitamin C and L-Lysine), and it’s crazy I can’t get the ferritin to go higher. Taking too much iron is dangerous, but apparently I’m not taking too much.

The new doctor wants to check my DHEA-S (which I begged the other guy to check), and my thyroid TPO antibodies (which have always come back negative). I do have high thyroid thyroglobulin antibodies, and was on thyroid medication for a year, but it didn’t help with my hair, and I started to get heart palpitations at the lowest dose, which made me believe I didn’t need thyroid medication. Another recent blood test showed my thyroid TSH, T3, and T4 levels were all “normal” although not exactly perfect. I’m not sure how to raise my T3 level without thyroid medication. So frustrating! Raising your iron levels is supposed to raise your T3, though.

3000 mcg of Biotin
The doctor told me to take 3000 mcg of biotin every day. I already take 1000 mcg, but the biotin pills I take have a bunch of other stuff with them (Twinlab Hair Factors), so the pills are huge, expensive, and taste horrible. Thus I’ve only been taking one, instead of the serving size of 3. I start taking pills the first thing in the morning, and I barely get through them all by the end of the day – taking vitamins has become my new non-paying job.

Derma Smoothe FS Oil
Next the Dermatologist said I have an inflamed scalp and prescribed weekly use of Derma Smoothe FS Oil. I had never heard of it, and she made it sound like it was just a hydrating oil. After an internet search, I realized it’s a topical steroid treatment for psoriasis. Hmmm. Why would that work for hair loss? One of the possible side effects also happens to be hair loss. There’s hardly any mention of its use for hair loss online. My scalp doesn’t look inflamed to me, and I don’t have any pain, but when you have Androgenetic Alopecia, you usually do have some inflammation. I am wary of using this prescription steroid. Years ago another doctor prescribed me something similar – Luxiq foam. It didn’t do anything for my hair loss – big surprise. I’m wondering if she prescribed it because she’s in cahoots with the maker of Derma Smoothe – I really don’t trust doctors anymore. I’ve been using gentle sulfate-free shampoos lately, and T/Gel with Zinc to try to help my hair and scalp. I would use Nizoral, but it makes my hair shed a lot!

Steroid scalp injections!
This came as a shock – the Dermatologist refused to prescribe me Spironolactone, but she said at the next visit she would probably do steroid scalp injections to combat the inflammation. Really? I’ve only ever heard of this for Alopecia Areata, and I don’t have that. It’s rare that a doctor would do steroid scalp injections for Androgenetic Alopecia, so this puts up a huge red flag! I’m also sure it costs a fortune, and I told her my insurance is horrible and it wouldn’t cover any of it. Please just give me the $4 Spiro prescription instead. Have you heard of scalp injections for genetic hair loss??? Doctors hate it when you object to something they want to do, but my gut says they will be a waste of money, and I’m sure they hurt like hell.

What next…
I’m supposed to see her again in a month for a follow-up. I’m at a loss of what to do next. I’m sure my DHEA-S test will come back “normal” and of the other blood tests I’ve had the last few years, they were all “normal,” which rules out Lupus, Diabetes, PCOS, etc. I don’t know where to go from here. My biggest obstacle is my insurance – I pay for most of these doctor visits out-of-pocket, and I don’t make enough money to cover my bills, let alone the never-ending doctor appointments.

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7 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • B.
    September 17, 2010 at 1:40 am
    Reply

    I am so glad you have created this blog. Like you, I have always feared hair loss. I remember when I was 16 I went to get a pixie cut (I had long hair at the time) and for the next year after that I was in a constant state of obsession about how to get my hair to grow back). I couldn’t stand short hair because I’ve always had thick, super pretty hair, and I like wearing it long and down. I would get compliments on my long hair all the time. Then, this past February, I went through a stressful breakup and lost my appetite. For 5 months I ate very little and dropped a lot of weight very fast. In July, I noticed that my hair was really thin. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Telogen Effluvium. I have been eating well for two months now, and my hair is still falling out. This is just like the time I cut my hair short and fretted about it constantly only WORSE. Because unlike with a bad haircut (you know it’s going to grow back out), with TE you have no idea when it’s going to stop, how thin your hair is going to get before it stops or how long it will take your body to restore your hair to its previous glory. Everyone keeps telling me to be patient because it will grow back, but I honestly am losing hope with each passing day. Thank you so much for creating this blog. I can’t wait to read your experiences and see some articles on TE as well!

  • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
    September 17, 2010 at 2:19 am
    Reply

    B,
    When I first noticed my hair loss, I definitely had Telogen Effluvium at the time (I think from being really depressed), and by looking at pictures of myself back then, my hair eventually stopped thinning and got a little thicker. If you started eating better two months ago, it might be another month before you hair stops falling out a lot, and then a few more months after that before you notice your hair coming back in.

    The first time I realized I had TE, I was positive I would lose so much hair and would be half-bald within a few months, but it subsided and never got nearly as bad as I feared. So hopefully yours will be the same way. That was several years ago. Now my hair is a lot worse than ever, but that’s because I now have genetic hair loss too.

    • B.
      September 18, 2010 at 9:04 pm
      Reply

      Jeni,

      I worry all the time I am going to go bald. But from everything I’m reading on the internet and hearing from people in person (I have run into a lot of women who have been through TE due to dieting and eating disorders, surprisingly) they all say their hair stopped falling out about 3-4 months after they started eating better and that it started growing back in 2-3 months after the shedding stopped. It’s going to be a long process, but I am so worried about developing genetic hair loss (I’ve heard TE can kick it off) that I will be relieved if it stops in a few months.

      I meant to ask you, are there any blood tests they can do to determine if one is genetically predisposed to AA. If so, have you ever considered having such a test done? Or are you pretty much positive that you have AA? I have always read that AA typically results in loss of hair at the temples and crown predominantly and from your photo it doesn’t look like you have that.

      One more question for you: how did you approach the topic of hair loss with your significant other? I’m currently dating, but I’m afraid to get serious with anyone because I’m self-conscious about my hair and don’t want to have to explain to a guy why I’m losing hair. It’s such a personal and emotional issue, I’m not sure how to handle it.

  • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
    September 18, 2010 at 9:59 pm
    Reply

    B.,
    There actually is a genetic test you can take to determine if you are predisposed to AA, and how severe your thinning will be in the future – http://www.hairdx.com/GeneticTestFemale.aspx . I have been thinking about taking the test, but I’m 99% sure I have AA, so I’m not sure if I’d be even more traumatized to take the test and find out I have a really bad score. Basically I know I have AA already – whether or not I still have TE as well is what I’m not sure about.

    My temples were very slowly receding in the past several years, but this year they’ve been receding like crazy, and my front hairline has receded as well – fast.

    When I first had TE, my hair loss did stabilize after several months and eventually got a little better. That was 8 years ago, and it wasn’t until this year that I started to notice my hairs miniaturizing and receding. Even if I never had TE, I’m sure I would have developed AA anyway, but a lot of people have TE and then they are fine, so hopefully that will be your case.

    My boyfriend always thought I was crazy when I told him my hair was falling out – it still looked normal enough when he met me 4 years ago. Now he finally realizes I’m not crazy, and so far he’s totally supportive. Most guys don’t even seem to notice female hair loss until it gets really severe. I keep warning my bf that I’m going bald and will be wearing fake hair soon, but he doesn’t seem to mind (although I think he’s in denial). I’m not sure how to approach it when dating – I probably wouldn’t bring it up until you start to get serious with someone.

  • Rachel
    September 18, 2010 at 11:11 pm
    Reply

    Jeni, another great blog. Question about your hair loss – could it be due to your birth control? I know that hair loss due to birth control is supposed to taper off after a few months, but what if you are predisposed, and the birth control just made it worse?

  • Jeni - Hair Loss Hell
    September 18, 2010 at 11:18 pm
    Reply

    Rachel,
    My hair loss could have initially been triggered by the bc pill, but the first few years I was on it, I never had hair loss. Luckily I’ve always been on pills that are low in androgens, but a lot of people do believe once you start the pill, it will make genetic hair loss kick in faster – not sure if that’s true or not. Since I realized I’ve had hair loss, I went off the pill for a year, and that didn’t make any difference. I then started back up on Yasmin, which is supposed to be the best pill to treat hair loss. If I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t have ever gone on the pill, but at the time I used to have sooo much hair, and I figured even if I lost 30% of my hair, I would be fine. I never imagined I would lose 70% of my hair (but it took 10 years)! I don’t think my current hair loss has anything to do with being on Yasmin, and if I went off it, I think I’d be worse off.

  • B.
    September 18, 2010 at 11:28 pm
    Reply

    Jeni,

    I think you mentioned on savvy skin that you started Yasmin for acne as well. My acne is terrible without a low androgen BC pill. I wouldn’t be on the pill if it weren’t for the acne, and I have kind of accepted that I will probably have to be on it for a long time. I know it sucks we have to take a pill everyday, but I think you’re right: you’re probably better on it than off it. I have also heard Yasmin helps with genetic hair loss.

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