A lot of people mistake broken hair for regrowth. Knowing to tell the difference is key 🔑.
Did your docs take a 2-second look and proceed with their diagnosis ➡️ prescribing minoxidil or steroids or immunosuppressants ➡️ making random prognosis (it’ll grow back, it won’t grow back, we’ll try and see)? 🤨
Naturopathic & functional docs, unless they are experienced and specialised in alopecia, won’t even know how to tell whether you are in active loss or regrowth phase. All they see is “hair loss”.
❗️ Exclamation hair or broken hair looks like short stubs or hair. This is NOT hair regrowth. Regrowth doesn’t come in stubs. These are hair that have been broken near the scalp. Sometimes they appear as black dots. This indicates that there is an active flare up. Something is triggering immune activity that is causing active hair loss. Act now to slow down or stop the loss!
✅ Regrowth comes in fuzz. Mostly, they appear as white baby hair first, which is hard to see. They grow longer and get pigmented, how fast this happens depends on your nutritional status (not only what you eat but also what you digest + absorb + utilise). If it’s taking a long time to grow longer and get pigmented, something is not optimised. Also time to act. Don’t be complacent when you get regrowth. You are doing something right so keep going. You are not out of the woods yet.
Alopecia is a term that simply means “hair loss”. There are many types and causes of hair loss. Some are purely caused by genetics, for example male pattern baldness, some are caused by stress, some are caused by nutrient deficiency, and some are caused by autoimmunity.
Autoimmune Alopecia generally show up in 3 different forms: Alopecia Areata (patchy bald spots), Totalis (total hair loss on the scalp), Universalis (total hair loss on the scalp and all over the body). There can also be ophiasis pattern of hair loss which is hair loss around the sides of the scalp and along the hairline.
How do you know if you have autoimmune Alopecia? A telltale sign of autoimmune Alopecia is exclamation point hair, which is short, broken hair near the scalp where it goes thinner at the base or scalp (hence it’s called exclamation mark). When you see exclamation point or broken hair, it means that you are in active hair loss stage, and this is the perfect time to take a baseline of what you are exposed to, because it can provide clues to identifying your triggers.
The areas around the broken hair typically forms a patch of bald spot. If you don’t do anything now, hair loss may progress into Alopecia Totalis, leading to loss of all hair on the scalp, and it may progress even further into Alopecia Universalis. This all sounds scary and frustrating, but autoimmune Alopecia can be overcome (with commitment and discipline) and personally I chose to NOT use any form of pharmaceutical drugs (which don’t solve the problem but just managing symptoms).
Routine bloodwork usually doesn’t tell you anything. Even more specialised, functional blood and GI tests will lead you down pretty much the same “”solution”” — diet, underlying infection or toxicity, lifestyle measures, etc etc. Causes of autoimmune alopecia can be physiological and/or psychological, or both. Blood tests don’t reveal psychological or emotional causes.
Why you get “normal” blood test results with Alopecia
Have you been told “everything in your labs looks normal”?
In our personal experience, we had done standard blood tests, non-standard blood tests, including comprehensive autoimmune markers, as well as more specialised (and very pricey!) “functional” labs, like the GI map, comprehensive stool analysis, microbiome test, micronutrient panel, etc etc. Although testing can be very helpful for some people, it never really gave me any useful insight in our case. Like many of my clients, we were told “everything looks normal”. My daughter did not even have a single autoimmune marker in the labs when she had a massive flare up a few years back. I decided to just zoom out, stopped focusing on the numbers, and refocused on the whole body health instead, and that’s when things took a turn for the better.
1️⃣ Inflammatory Markers: Autoimmune conditions can be tricky because they often involve inflammation. However, not all inflammation markers are specific to a particular condition. They can be elevated for various reasons, making it challenging to pinpoint the exact cause.
2️⃣ Genetic Factors: Genetics play a significant role in autoimmune alopecia. These genetic factors don’t usually show up in most blood tests, as they involve complex interactions between multiple genes.
3️⃣ Tissue-Specific Activity: The autoimmune response might be localized within the hair follicles, and this activity might not manifest as abnormalities in the bloodstream.
4️⃣ Environmental Triggers: Triggers for autoimmune diseases can be environmental, and many times even emotional/psychological, and these factors are usually not reflected in blood tests.
5️⃣ Diagnostic Limitations: Some autoimmune conditions are simply difficult to diagnose through blood tests alone.
I still recommend that you have blood tests done; I personally like to keep a record of things as baseline and as we progress (or have setbacks) through this condition. Blood tests can also pinpoint obvious things that need extra attention, such as deficiencies or other anomalies. But I don’t recommend us getting too obsessed with blood tests alone. We are not robots and our bodies don’t work like robotic machines!