Female Pattern Hair Loss… Telogen Effluvium

We have been impressed with how often we have found a low level of iron “stores” (called Ferritin level) in women with a specific type of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium. This type of hair loss is usually more sudden than typical female pattern loss (which tends to be gradual but progressive) and occurs all over the scalp and not just on the top of the scalp (crown), like female pattern hair loss.  Having a low Ferritin level is different than having low iron or anemia. One can have a low Ferritin level and still have a normal iron level. How does this happen? The human body has many documented feedback mechanisms that allow it to maintain a good balance of nutrients. As we know, women need more iron supplementation due to their menstrual cycle which results in a loss of blood cells and iron. Cells that have a lot of growth and turnover need iron (all cells need iron for their basic metabolic processes), and hair is one of those cell types that requires a lot of iron. I don’t know this for sure, but I believe that when the storage tank (Ferritin level) gets low, the body might reduce some of the metabolic processes that it deems less important. In other words, with less iron in the tank the body may reserve the remaining iron for the most important processes, such as making new blood cells, blocking its use for something “less important” like regenerating hair. We check Ferritin levels when we see this type of hair loss and OFTEN find it is less than 80, which has been associated with hair loss. Iron replacement with over-the-counter iron available at the drugstore often does increase hair growth in this instance. It is important to be diagnosed with the proper type of hair loss as only a certain type of loss called telogen effluvium will benefit. Contact our office to set up an appointment with a dermatology provider to get your hair loss diagnosed and properly treated. Also, don’t overdo the iron supplementation, as it can cause constipation.