Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Discussions about the diffuse thinning experienced by women, usually after menopause
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Sunnyday
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:34 am

Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Sunnyday »

Hi there, About three weeks ago my hair suddenly started falling out all over my head. I had really thick shoulder length hair and had never had any hair loss. I'm 42. I take really good care of myself and am told I look at least 10 years younger. I do have grey hair but I colour it blonde so you can't tell. My natural hair colour is dark blonde/light brown. I do have regrowth, I believe... I can feel it growing all over my head in little spikes like a brush cut and I have bumps all over my head that the doctor told me was the follicles pushing through..and it started to feel like it was growing after the first ten days. The hair loss was so sudden and so rapid. I've lost all the hair from my left temple and most of the crown, but the loss is mostly pretty even all over. Most of it all fell out in about ten days. Probably lost 60% of my hair now 3 weeks later. I am lucky I had so much to begin with and can hide it pretty well still and wear hats because I haven't cut it all off. I took spironolactone for about a year. I took only about 25 mg a day but as soon as the hair loss started I stopped taking it because I was only taking it for acne. During the past year I now realize I took a lot of Vitamin A. (I stopped the vitamin A about 3 months before this happened because my skin had cleared up) I am guessing I took about 25K IU or more a day. I was taking a vitamin called Akneezyme with 10KIU per two tablets twice a day and then I also took desiccated liver, I also took shark liver oil. I definitely over did it on the vitamin A. On top of it my eye sight started to go so I took 5kIU more a day not realizing my eye sight was probably being affected by the vitamin A. I'm so scared all of my hair is going to fall out and that it's not going to grow back normally, for example because i had some grey maybe it will grow back all white! I had a full panel of blood tests including all my thyroid levels and my liver and kidneys and hormones are all fine, and I am said to be in really good health by the naturopath, the TCM and the medical doctor. I was also really stressed out and had a bit of a breakdown before this happened. It's hard to tell exactly what it was. Now I am eating a lot of greens and staying away from the desiccated liver and all Vitamin A. I'm taking viviscal and some extra biotin. I also had food sensitivity testing and am staying away from wheat,coffee and alcohol and eating TEFF, oysters, beef, chicken and fruit and vegetables . I will also try some spirulina which doesn't have any vitamin A in it. I just got another set of blood tests because my iron levels weren't checked. I got the first set of blood tests about a week after the dramatic shedding started. I really hope it continues to grow back. This is my story.
Tom Hagerty
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Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Tom Hagerty »

I have bumps all over my head that the doctor told me was the follicles pushing through
That's a crazy thing for a doctor to tell you. If you have bumps all over your head, it's not from "follicles pushing through." Hair follicles are embedded in the dermis and produce a hair shaft. But a new hair shaft exiting the hair canal does not create a bump.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient. If you don't have enough your skin and hair become dry. But if you have too much you could get TE (telogen effluvium). Taking over 20,000 IU of vitamin A for a period of time causes toxicity which may in turn bring on TE - the quick loss of a percentage of your hair.

Certain drugs that may be used for acne treatment are vitamin A derivatives - retinoic acid and isotretinoin. These drugs can slow down cell division and keratinization - a good thing for acne but a bad thing for one's hair. Sometimes good dietary measures can slow down or even eliminate acne. A nutritious diet can also keep your hair looking healthy. But I don't think you should ever get too much of any nutrient especially from supplements. Some vitamins and minerals (selenium and zinc for example) have a toxic effect on the body and hair. Certain toxicities can even cause the hair to turn white.

Since you're interested in what is perhaps turning your hair gray this little bit of information might be helpful. Copper aids in the conversion of the amino acid tyrosine into the dark pigment melanin that gives color to the hair. Certain other minerals if too much is consumed interfere with copper absorption. These other minerals are zinc and iron if consumed in excess - like zinc and iron supplements.
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I love my iron and zinc supplements ☺
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Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Jenvoy »

Sunnyday wrote:Hi there, About three weeks ago my hair suddenly started falling out all over my head. I had really thick shoulder length hair and had never had any hair loss. I'm 42. I take really good care of myself and am told I look at least 10 years younger. I do have grey hair but I colour it blonde so you can't tell. My natural hair colour is dark blonde/light brown. I do have regrowth, I believe... I can feel it growing all over my head in little spikes like a brush cut and I have bumps all over my head that the doctor told me was the follicles pushing through..and it started to feel like it was growing after the first ten days. The hair loss was so sudden and so rapid. I've lost all the hair from my left temple and most of the crown, but the loss is mostly pretty even all over. Most of it all fell out in about ten days. Probably lost 60% of my hair now 3 weeks later. I am lucky I had so much to begin with and can hide it pretty well still and wear hats because I haven't cut it all off. I took spironolactone for about a year. I took only about 25 mg a day but as soon as the hair loss started I stopped taking it because I was only taking it for acne. During the past year I now realize I took a lot of Vitamin A. (I stopped the vitamin A about 3 months before this happened because my skin had cleared up) I am guessing I took about 25K IU or more a day. I was taking a vitamin called Akneezyme with 10KIU per two tablets twice a day and then I also took desiccated liver, I also took shark liver oil. I definitely over did it on the vitamin A. On top of it my eye sight started to go so I took 5kIU more a day not realizing my eye sight was probably being affected by the vitamin A. I'm so scared all of my hair is going to fall out and that it's not going to grow back normally, for example because i had some grey maybe it will grow back all white! I had a full panel of blood tests including all my thyroid levels and my liver and kidneys and hormones are all fine, and I am said to be in really good health by the naturopath, the TCM and the medical doctor. I was also really stressed out and had a bit of a breakdown before this happened. It's hard to tell exactly what it was. Now I am eating a lot of greens and staying away from the desiccated liver and all Vitamin A. I'm taking viviscal and some extra biotin. I also had food sensitivity testing and am staying away from wheat,coffee and alcohol and eating TEFF, oysters, beef, chicken and fruit and vegetables . I will also try some spirulina which doesn't have any vitamin A in it. I just got another set of blood tests because my iron levels weren't checked. I got the first set of blood tests about a week after the dramatic shedding started. I really hope it continues to grow back. This is my story.
I'm sorry to hear you too are going through awful TE. Mine began exactly a month after taking the anxiety med, trazodone. I too never dealt with any hair loss. I scoured the internet in search of information on hair loss, and when and if this would end. From what I've read drug induced TE can last 3-6 months. Although, after joining another forum (Heralopecia) I've encountered many women like myself, that have endured TE for well over 6 months...some are going on 2 years or more. As much as I appreciate the feedback and support these women give, it's also frightening to think that I could be like them, enduring TE for a year or more. I think I've did more psychological damage reading some of these women's stories of hair loss.

My point being, in finding others like me I ended up quite depressed with finding out that TE can last well beyond the 3-6 month period. But I also have to remind myself that I'm doing everything I can to increase my low ferritin and Vitamin D level (which is also a factor). You've also found and removed your trigger, which many women don't realize they had prior to having TE. Sounds like you're ahead of the game.

I urge you to get the results of your ferritin and iron levels. My integrative medicine doctor told me I needed to be at 100 for ferritin, and 80 for Vitamin D. Many of these hair loss websites say 70-80 is optimal but it appears that has changed. Many women were getting to 70-80 and not seeing any results until they reached 90-100 and staying there for a period of time.

I also found a reliable study on telogen effluvium and the use of nigella saliva (black cumin oil) helping with hair growth during TE. I use under 1ML daily on my scalp and have seen some regrowth in the past 3 months. Whether it be from the black cumin oil, or it was just growth that would've happened on it's own..who knows? All I know is I see some hair growth, and that is comforting. Black cumin oil is a sort of vasodilator (think rogaine but safer and with less nasty side effects).

I'm on month 4 of TE. It seems better than when this all started. I am not counting hair, like many people do who are going through TE. It was only breaking my heart to count 150+ hairs daily...knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it. I just have let it run it's course and hope that it ends in the coming months. I'm guessing I've lost 50% of my hair so far. Like you I had tons of hair before this started. I suppose we're lucky to have started out with a lot of hair. If not we'd be bald by now!

The bumps on your head sound like clogged follicles, because of the excessive hair loss. I know Tom will probably tell you not to rub, or massage your scalp because of the delicate condition your scalp is currently in. Any hair that falls out, is doomed to fall out anyway...whether you massage your scalp or not. I recently started using Pura D'or shampoo and gently massaging my scalp when I wash it every 2 days. Not sure if this will help or make a difference but I'm willing to give it a try...I don't have anything to lose at this point! ;)

Whether your iron level is low or not; increase your protein intake. Along with more green leafy veggies. I had a woman on another hair loss forum tell me that my 1-2X intake of red meat and spinach wouldn't be good for me since it can increase my Vitamin A, and cause toxicity. What?! This is why I think staying away from those types of hair loss forums is beneficial. I'm seeing a lot of women that are now severely distraught and are willing to use more supplements, thinking it will help their situation.

Tom has a lot of good info on this forum as well as the archived posts. I hope your TE recovers in the coming weeks or months. Good luck to you!
Sunnyday
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:34 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Sunnyday »

Thanks Tom for the cute photo and for the information about copper.

And thank you Jenvoy. I have changed everything I do and greatly reduced all stress. I get a lot of acupuncture and am taking Fo Ti as well as other herbs prescribed by the TCM. I haven't lost all my hair but at least half or probably more. I wonder if it will all come out. Yes, I have clogged follicles and am afraid to wash it too much.

Tom do you know if all your hair falls out with acute telogen effluvium? The dermatologist said it won't but I wonder...She also said to try regaine to kickstart the anagen phase but I am reticent as it seems to be growing already albeit very slowly and it's not really visible. I can feel it though.
Sunnyday
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:34 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Sunnyday »

Tom do you have an opinion on Rogaine for Acute Telogen Effluvium in women with no history of hair loss previous to an episode of TE?
Does anyone have any positive experiences with it who are women with this condition? most of my hair fell out in about 2-3 weeks and it now very very thin about 6 weeks later, is still falling out a bit and I was told to try rogaine to kickstart growth. I can feel a bit of growth already and am afraid it could cause chronic TE.
Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Jenvoy »

Sunnyday wrote:Tom do you have an opinion on Rogaine for Acute Telogen Effluvium in women with no history of hair loss previous to an episode of TE?
Does anyone have any positive experiences with it who are women with this condition? most of my hair fell out in about 2-3 weeks and it now very very thin about 6 weeks later, is still falling out a bit and I was told to try rogaine to kickstart growth. I can feel a bit of growth already and am afraid it could cause chronic TE.
Sunnyday, I suggest you DO NOT use rogaine if you were diagnosed with TE. A derm I was referred to told me to use rogaine. He failed to tell me that you can have what many hair loss experts term "dread shed" once you start it. This means more hair will likely fall out before you see any results, 3-6 months down the line. Rogaine is not a miracle potion that will regrow your hair overnight. In fact, minoxidil (rogaine) was a originally prescribed for high blood pressure since it's a vasodilator. I've read quite a few users of rogaine have had heart palpitations, or pains in their chest. I used it for 3 days and my hair was coming out more than when my TE initially started. I then went on online and read that you shed more hair before you notice any hair growth. This defeats the entire purpose of what I'm trying to accomplish by helping my TE. I also found out that it can cause facial hair, regardless of whether you get it on your face or not. It enters your pores and bloodstream and from that point any side effect can occur.

I found an amazing study that was recently done in lieu of using something like rogaine the physicians had the participants use nigella sativa (black cumin oil) and a follow up was done 3-6 months later. They found that the participants that used 0.5% of the black cumin oil on their scalps for their TE had significant regrowth. Needless to say, after reading this, I ran out and purchased some black cumin oil. I have been using it for 3 months now. I do see some sporadic regrowth.

My suggestion would be to see a physician and test your total Iron, ferritin, vitamin D, adrenals, cortisol, iodine, and hormone levels. I'm sure Tom will tell you that you need to be 70 and above for ferritin and stay there for several months to see any decreases in hair loss and increases in regrowth.

I have read several positive recovery stories on Heralopecia.com. They have a forum for women suffering from acute TE, chronic TE, AGA, etc. There are many uplifting stories there but there are also very depressed women that have been going through CTE for over a year. I try to only read the positive and ignore the negative.

Good luck!
Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Jenvoy »

Sunnyday wrote:Thanks Tom for the cute photo and for the information about copper.

And thank you Jenvoy. I have changed everything I do and greatly reduced all stress. I get a lot of acupuncture and am taking Fo Ti as well as other herbs prescribed by the TCM. I haven't lost all my hair but at least half or probably more. I wonder if it will all come out. Yes, I have clogged follicles and am afraid to wash it too much.

Tom do you know if all your hair falls out with acute telogen effluvium? The dermatologist said it won't but I wonder...She also said to try regaine to kickstart the anagen phase but I am reticent as it seems to be growing already albeit very slowly and it's not really visible. I can feel it though.
IMO I do not think stress is a key component to hair loss. It might be for some people, but many of the women I've read about that are going through a bout of TE have had triggers. Most have gotten on or off of birth control which throws their hormones out of whack. A lot of women were vegan or vegetarian and have severely low ferritin and iron levels (like myself) but also had a drug that triggered their hair loss. Many of these women were told that stress was a reason behind their loss (like myself as well) and I never believed that was the case.

Anyway, I'm sure Tom could probably give you a more precise response regarding your question, but I wanted to chime in as well! ;)
When this all started 4 months ago, I was so sure I'd lose all of my hair. Every week, and month that went by I'd cry like a baby and tell my husband..."I'm going to have to wear a wig!" At month 3 I went and was fitted for a hair topper because I was sure I needed it. I lost most of the hair on my crown, but over all my hair is diffuse. I've lost 45-50% so far in 4 months. If my hair wasn't as thick as it was prior to this occurring I'd probably be wearing a wig.
My point being; every month I thought this was the month I'd need a wig. As the weeks progressed I was in fear that I'd need to run out and get one. I feel that if this goes on for another 4-6 months I might need one for vanity purposes. I feel that I might just be panicking and I may not even need one. May of the women on Heralopecia.com have dealt with chronic TE for a year and are not completely bald, or have had to run out and purchase a wig. The women that have AGA or severe chronic TE for over a year have a hair topper or a wig.

I believe that if you've had a dramatic amount of hair loss and it's devastated you, you should do what you'd like in order to feel better about yourself. Whether it be getting a topper or wig. You should take a look at that website and visit the forum there. There are many women going through what we are going through and many are very helpful and supportive!
Sunnyday
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:34 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Sunnyday »

Jenavoy, your message made me feel so much better. My iron is 43 and Vitamin D is 79. My hormones are all normal as is my thyroid. A naturapath, a TCM and my GP and the dermatologist all felt my hormones and thyroid were fine and I checked them online too. I think it was the vitamin A which I think I ended up consuming 30K IU a day for a while by accident. I think it even affected my eyesight to the point of getting glasses. I'm taking iron and vitamin D and will try the black cumin seed oil. I'm also taking Fo Ti the chinese herb and biotin and viviscal. I won't take the rogaine it seem horrid and my hair is already growing back. I don't want to lose what I have left under any circumstances. You are so kind to share your insights. :)
Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Jenvoy »

Sunnyday wrote:Jenavoy, your message made me feel so much better. My iron is 43 and Vitamin D is 79. My hormones are all normal as is my thyroid. A naturapath, a TCM and my GP and the dermatologist all felt my hormones and thyroid were fine and I checked them online too. I think it was the vitamin A which I think I ended up consuming 30K IU a day for a while by accident. I think it even affected my eyesight to the point of getting glasses. I'm taking iron and vitamin D and will try the black cumin seed oil. I'm also taking Fo Ti the chinese herb and biotin and viviscal. I won't take the rogaine it seem horrid and my hair is already growing back. I don't want to lose what I have left under any circumstances. You are so kind to share your insights. :)
How is your hair doing these days? I am still going through my bout of TE, 5 months for me now. I can safely say I do have a little bit of hair growth...which tells me at some point once this awful shedding stops I will regain my hair again. The scariest thing is not knowing when it will stop, or if it will stop.

It's good you are taking a supplement for your insufficiencies but please also know (as I'm sure you're probably aware, with your Vitamin A issue) that too much of one or the other pill is just as bad. I have no clue what my ferritin is at. It was at 42 back in September. I personally only take one pill of iron a day along with Vitamin C, and occasionally I'll do a tablespoon of black strap molasses with water. I don't think my TE is being caused by my lack of iron. I realize all the "hair experts" say to get your ferritin to 70-80 for optimum hair growth. I don't know if I find that to be 100% accurate. I've read too many stories of women with TE from illness, medications, birth control pills, weight loss surgery, and it seems most have had recovery within 6-9 months with or without being on top of their iron intake. Some women have had sporadic hair loss, and were diagnosed with having AGA, but came to find out that they had very low BMI's, are stressed, or have had a major trigger to set off their hair loss. They may have had very low ferritin and iron levels, but after supplementation and increasing their protein have or are currently in recovery. Other have had chronic hair loss that has gone on for years, without figuring out why.

It seems we both have had triggers to our hair loss, which weighs more on a positive outcome to all of this!

I'm sure you know to be rechecked every 3-4 months to make sure you aren't overloading on iron or Vitamin D. I think your Vitamin D is perfect at 79. I'd personally stop supplementing every day with the vitamin D or maybe take only 500mg of D just in case, and get retested to make sure you're not overdoing it, or if it drops.
I am Still not convinced Vitamin D is a trigger or a underlying cause for hair loss. Iron perhaps, but I'm not convinced D is.

I hope you're recovering! It would be nice if I can come back in a few months time (I pray less!) and give my recovery update.
Sunnyday
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:34 am

Re: Sudden Hair Loss due to Vitamin A

Post by Sunnyday »

I have no hair right now. I'm not sure what is going on but only time will tell. It seems like all my hair has fallen out and over my whole body. It's been the worst hell I've ever been through. I never thought I'd end up totally bald. I can't see any signs of follicles but it's only been 3 1/2 months since this happened so i'm not giving up hope yet. I've decided to cut down on all my supplements and just eat as well as I can. I haven't been retested for anything but am considering going to the hospital to see if a group of doctors can try to diagnose this. I'm fairly certain this was a combo of Vitamin A, the spironolactone (25mg) a day and a lot of stress.
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