Just a Female Losing Hair (Here I Am!)

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As much as I’d rather not show this picture to pretty much anyone, I guess it’s a necessity on a female hair loss blog, huh? Quick, shield your eyes…a female losing hair is incoming:

female hair loss

This is me in mid-November, 2012. I was really bummed because this was taken right after I left the hairstylist’s chair. Normally, immediately following a color appointment my hair looks better since the dye plumps up the hair shaft and helps to conceal the fact that I’m a female losing hair (in fact, in July 2012 I traveled and forgot to pack my favorite concealing product because it was over the 2 oz. limit or whatever the standard is when you fly. However, I had just gotten my hair colored so that combined with a little teasing and a bunch of hair spray made the concealers not necessary!). This time, not so much.

About four months prior, I started taking Spiro. More on that later, but basically it’s an anti-androgen medicine that some women get put on when they have PCOS. More on that later, too. But, it can cause what many women in the “hair thinning spectrum” refer to as “the dread shed.” It *absolutely* did that to me. I lost a ton of hair (and I didn’t have any to spare, mind you!) about a month after I started on it. Even though I was prepared for it, I was devastated. It’s bad enough to be a female losing hair in general, but to lose copious amounts of it in a short period of time is even more heartbreaking.

Now, to be fair, this photo is taken after a basic blowdry–there are absolutely none of my favorite volumizing products in it. I would never, NEVER go out without volumizing products (and hair concealers/hair fibers, too, of course). But, my hair does look slightly better when it’s properly blow-dried with decent products. I’ll post a pic of that, soon.

So, there you have it folks. Me and my scalp. Not the idea I had in my head of what I’d look like at 31 years old!

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

43 thoughts on “Just a Female Losing Hair (Here I Am!)”

  1. I’ve had recent success with regrowing hair that I lost over several years. Let me share with you the inexpensive and homemade treatment I use.

    I’m aged 70+, with fine and straight hair, medium short. I started shedding hair about 9 years ago, in amounts great enough to know that it was not normal. Over the years my hair thinned considerably, especially on the top of my head.

    At the same time, I was experiencing constant scalp irritation, pimple-like bumps, tenderness and itching. I observed that the periods of greatest hair loss coincided with the spells of itching. I’ve finally concluded that I have seborrheic dermatitis, even though I have no dandruff. I attribute my hair loss to this condition.

    I’ve been able to greatly reduce the irritation and itching through using medicated shampoos continually. I know this SD condition is chronic and that I will have to continue the medicated shampoos for life. I alternate two shampoos on a weekly basis, one has 1% selenium sulfide and the other has 2% ketaconazole. Whichever I use, I use on days Su-Tu-Th-Sa. On days Mo-We-Fr of each week I use a shampoos with 2% salicylic acid.

    My hair loss has diminished to almost nothing on a daily basis. That is reassuring, since stopping the hair loss was the first step to regrowing my hair to its former fullness.

    While researching online some suggested treatments for my SD condition, I found references to using original formula, amber Listerine mouthwash as a scalp treatment because it is anti-fungal, anti-septic and and anti-inflammatory. These properties are due to its active ingredients of menthol, thymol, eucalyptol and methyl salicylate.

    I also found a research paper titled “Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs”

    This paper detailed a lab experiment which compared the effectiveness of two agents, specifically minoxidil, and menthol in the form of peppermint oil. Hair was regrown on lab mice at a faster rate with the menthol treatment.

    That menthol had this property of hair regrowth got my attention. I looked for other, more available, and cheaper sources of menthol than peppermint oil. Blue analgesic or pain-relieving gel, with active ingredient of 2% menthol, is one such source. This gel is promoted for relieving muscle and joint pain. One brand is Mineral Ice.

    I’ve combined the mouthwash and menthol gel into one treatment, and have used it now for several months. My hair is decidedly growing where the hair was so thin before, and I am starting to have fullness of hair on the top of my head. Additionally, my hairline is filling in, in the areas where it had receded.

    For the treatment solution, here are the proportions I use. Into a 2-cup measuring cup put:

    3 tablespoons of amber mouthwash (that has original formula active ingredients.)
    1/2 tablespoon of blue analgesic gel.
    Enough water to bring the solution to 1 1/2 cups.

    Mix the solution thoroughly. You want all the gel mixed completely in the solution.

    To make this process easier, I reuse a clean and clear 12-ounce mustard squeeze bottle, put the mouthwash and gel in it, then fill with water near to the top, cap it and shake well.

    The proportions I use are the result of trial and error. I found that greater concentrations of mouthwash and/or gel gave me headaches. This concentration works just fine for me. You can experiment with what concentration works for you. If you get headaches that is a signal that you need to dilute the solution more.

    I apply the solution to my scalp each day, then put a shower cap on my head, wrap my head in a towel turban-style, and let the solution work for 30 minutes. Then I wash and dry my hair as usual.

    Tip: The hardest part of this process is getting the solution directly onto the scalp, not having it just slide down my hair onto my shoulders. So, I put the solution in a spray bottle. I bend over the sink to let gravity pull my hair away from my scalp, with the help of my fingers. Then I put the bottle nozzle right against my scalp and squirt. The goal is to get the scalp wet, not spritzing the solution on just the hair. I work the solution throughout my scalp with my fingers. When the scalp is all wet, I blot my hair to keep it from dripping, and put on the shower cap and turban-towel.

    Be patient, and be consistent with the treatment. It has taken 6 months for me to see real progress in my hair filling out.

    That’s it. I know I will have to continue this treatment for life, but I am so pleased I have been able to regrow my hair. I might skip a day now and then, but not often.

    One further thing. You can spend more money than you have to buying the name brands of mouthwash and analgesic gel. The generic versions of these products work just as well, as long as they have the same active ingredients. I get a 16.9 ounce bottle of the mouthwash, and an 8 ounce jar of the gel for $1 each, at my local dollar store. Each lasts me 3 or more months. You can’t ask for a less expensive hair regrowth treatment than that.

    Best wishes for your success with this treatment.

    • I have used onion juice quite a bit. At first I really liked it because i felt like it was a natural volumizer ( Sulfur i suppose) but now since my hair has thinned so much it makes it a bit ‘stringy’. I continue to use it every so once in a while in the hopes that all its sulfur will nourish my scalp.
      After seeing a fancy dermatologist I got the spiro medication. After reading the paper work on the box it mentioned it caused tumors in rats and quickly threw them away. I now have dedicated and chosen to go with acupuncture,diet, hair masks, vitamins and home made shampoos using onions. i know sounds nasty hahaha…desperate times call for desperate times ladies, what can i say, i had to try. Still trying.
      There are really nice herbal tea rinse recipies out there and i enjoy doing that. Im trying to look for new ways on how to love myself. How to let go of this identity of beauty I have of myself and love myself. And so I feel like a gypsy goddess when i make these little concotions- new ways to enjoy self love and care…and yet I cry all the time. my partner is so supportive but holy smokes its really killing me, he feels so helpless and im so angry. Im 33.
      My hair hasnt really improved much. I have gotten a TON of blood tests not one said i had high testosterone- i do have really low iron and iodine levels though….I feel like its a combo of things: Inflamation, autoimmune, thyroid thing. Im going to try an anti-inflamitory diet, maybe if i flood my body consistently with super foods and stress killing acupuncture i can remedy it….but i keep thinkikng im going to have to buy a wig. Ive given up on mousse and styling…i wear a lot of hats and scarves, 1950s style. Trying to look at how i can style my hair in unique ways because wigs are so exspensive right?

  2. I started sprio last week for hormonal acne, im scared that it might start hair loss? I’ve noticed this week, more a shed than normal. the nurse said it was the weather.

    • I don’t know why medical staff are not more in tune with reported (and likely listed!) side effects. Yes, it can cause shedding. In speaking with many women, I’ve found that it causes MAJOR shedding in those already afflicted with shedding. Unfortunately, only time will tell if yours levels off. Spiro was great for my face, though!

  3. Christine I know what you are going to. I am 49 and just started losing my hair over the last 6 months. It is devastating. None of my grubs are going through this. I would love to connect with you.

  4. Thank Lauren for this blog. I have just turned 50 and in the passed 2 months have lost what I see as half my hair. I started spironolactone 3 weeks ago with some slow down of shedding. My endocrinologist put me on spironolactone and would like to combine it with hormone replacement but I am from a high risk breast cancer family so I am holding off on estrogen replacement but I have changed my diet to increase phytoestrogens. These are plant derived estrogen like substances. I feel sad all the time and my heart bleeds for all you girls younger than me that have to go through this. Does anyone know if plasma rich growth factor shots are compatible with low estrogen? Or do you have to have acceptable levels of estrogen for plasma shots to work?

  5. Thank you so much for posting photos! I am a woman who has been experiencing hair loss since my late twenties (I’m 38 now), and probably the worst part of it (well, there are quite a few) is not really having people to talk to about it. I tell lots of people in my life about it, but I don’t know many women my age with hair loss whom I’ve talked to. So for me it’s huge just to see photos and to know I’m not alone.

  6. I am getting ready to start Spironolactone, but I am afraid of the shed. The nurse said I would not lose any hair that it would help me regrow. I don’t have any room for shed.

    • Your nurse is potentially wrong. 🙂 It can indeed spark a shed, and you should be prepared for that to potentially happen. From speaking with MANY women, I’ve round that Spiro may not help you regrow, but should slow down the shed to give your natural growth cycle time to catch up.

      • I can’t say that you are wrong or not but if Spironolactone is actually a diuretic, it doesn’t make sense that this particular drug would cause a dreaded shedding of hair. I know that minoxidil and rogain will cause excessive shedding before it replaces the hair loss. Is it possible that all those who have experienced this dreaded shed was using Spironolactone along with minoxidil or rogaine?

    • I just did 3 rounds of PRP injections 1 month apart. I also work for a dermatology practice. If your hair loss is genetic don’t wast your time or money with PRP injections. I am currently 3 months post injections and it has not done a thing. It’s expensive, and not the best feeling having needles stuck in your scalp. We have see up to 60% re growth in our male pts but not much to impress in females

  7. Hi! I came across your blog whilst doing some research into Spironolactone. My dermatologist is hoping to prescribe me a dosage of 50 to 100mg daily. I currently take 1mg of Finasteride (an anti-testosterone tablet) daily and would use the two combined. I just wondered if you had any experience with the two combined? I have androgenic alopecia – courtesy of my Polycystic ovaries! Topically applied Minoxidyl did nothing for me unfortunately! I’m 22 and just want to keep my hair for as long as I can. Thanks! x

  8. Thank you all for being so supportive of women’s hair loss. I lost my hair in 1992. Had allot going on in my life so not sure if it was my thyroid, Aloepcia or what but it all fell out. I spent a fortune trying to get it back. This March my BFF got ovariun cancer and is going through Chemo. 10 of us girls, shaved there heads, I though this was my opportunity to come out from under my wig and go oh natural . I had so much support from all my friends. I am at home with them but still am struggling with it when I go out, as I am not putting my wig back on tell she is done chemo and gets her hair back. What shocks me is how embarrassed some people are around me, “oh my god, put your hat back on” attitude. But I am finally free, no more hiding under my wig, I am 60 now and have lost way to many years being sad because I never had hair. I would love to hear from anyone with this condition. We can support each other.

    • I’m 45 and have worn a wig since I was 18. I keep hearing of Monat hair system, and Hair Nu vitamins and all kinds of stuff that guarantees it works or money back. I’ve spent so much money on everything but am thinking of doing the shampoo, oil, and vitamins all at once and it if doesn’t help, I’ll stay with my wig. I also wonder about the laser therapy. They say mine is from stress and medications, and genetics. I think I’m a lost cause…

  9. I appreciate this blog. I have been told my hair loss and facial hair growth is due to elevated Test. I’ve been prescribed spiro but haven’t started yet. Do you have pictures of your hair before starting the meds. My hair is thinning quick but still at point where I can style it to make it less noticeable. I’m wondering what yours looked like before dread shed. Thanks!

  10. Hey amanda…i am going through the same thing…my mom is tired of me lamenting over my hair loss….i am not yet married and keep worrying on if someone would accept me the way i am…hang in there….thanks a lot lauren for this blog…it gives me courage to accept my hair loss

  11. I used have long hair down to my hips in my high school year.. My hair started thinning 2010,the year after my graduation! And since my hair is still thinning and I’m getting balder and balder day by day. I lose a huge amount of hair when I wash it, brush it, or put it up I pony tail! Idk know what to do any more. My doctor put me on spironlactone 100mg twice a day. I’ve been on it for about a month now. My hair has been falling more for the past month. I guess I’m going through the ” dread shed” phase. I burry my face in the pillow and cry myself to sleep every night. I get teary eye whn I look at myself in the morrow. I’m supposed to get married in dec or jan! dok wht to do with my hair. I see small lil hair growing, but it never grows long enough to show effect, so idk if I’m growing and losing it before it can even get long. I’m so frustrated, depressed, and helpless. I need help. My dr told my testosterone was high and that’s the reason my hair loss. I’m taking biotin 1000mcg along with it, but still now improvement. I use the fiber thing on my hair only for whn I go out in the sun. It helps some, but I just want my own hair back and growing, so I can style it again like all the other women out there. I’m too young to be losing hair, I’m 23 and I have a whole life ahead me to go, and I don’t want to be bald. Please help!!

    • It’s definitely going to take awhile for any Spiro regrowth to grow out to where it is super noticeable. It took me on it for three months to even notice any regrowth from what fell out, unfortunately. Many of us started losing hair in our 20s, so I understand what you are going through.

  12. Try the BioHair Treatment Cleanser and Restoration Formula together. Start with the Cleanser to remove impurities from the scalp, creating an ideal scalp environment for new hair growth. Next apply the emu oil infused Restoration Formula to stimulate the scalp and produce new hair growth. Emu oil has been proven to promote hair growth in studies conducted at Boston University. Together these products will jump start your path to a full, thick head of hair.

  13. Hi Lauren,

    I’ve been taking 100 mg of spironolactone for a little over a year now for hirsutism, especially on my chin. And I experienced the “dread shed” that you mention in your post. My scalp hair starting shedding exactly one month after I started taking the medication, and when I asked my doctors if it could be causing my hair to shed, they denied it and suggested it was from stress. I’m wondering how long your “dread shed” lasted? Several blogs mentioned that the dread shed lasted a few month and that it was possible to wait it out and regrow the hair. However, It’s been over a year now since I began using it and my hair is *STILL* shedding copiously. I’m quite devastated as I had a beautiful head of hair before this, and now I have to struggle with hair loss as well as hirsutism. I’m now considering going off the drug in the hopes of saving my head hair, which worries me, because the spiro has helped my hirsutism, and I know that it will come back with a vengeance if I stop. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place! Anyhow, I’d appreciate it if you could tell me more about your shedding experience (duration, how much hair loss, how much hair grew back), as it will help me figure out whether it’s worth waiting some more or getting off the drug immediately.

    • Hi. My actual shed probably lasted only 3 weeks; what you are going through seems rather excessive. I did start to see some regrowth–of at least that shed–immediately. I was only on for a few months before I decided to go off of it to conceive, so I wasn’t on long enough to know if the regrowth was all the dread shed, or if some of it was from my initial hair loss. I feel confident that if I go back on it after the baby that the dread shed hair will come back. As far as getting back the hair I already lost, who knows? I will say that my hair looked alot better than it does now when I am off all medication (Spiro, Rogaine, etc.) so something was definitely working at the time!

  14. Hi. I just saw your comment on my blog. I’ve been working so much that I haven’t had time to write posts, and I hadn’t checked comments in a while:( Anyway, I love your blog, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with hair loss as well:( I wish I had a magic bullet to fix hair loss for all women! Jeni


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