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Press 09-01-18

How Ida got her hair back – Ica Kuriren

Ida Dahlström, 37, lived a stressful life and lost half of her hair. She lost her self-esteem and became fixated by her hair loss. After two years she received the appropriate help, and today the hair is on its way back.

– I think it’s hard for someone who does not suffer from hair loss to understand the stress you experience when your hair starts to fall off. By only pulling my hand through my hair I had a hand full of loose hair. I panicked.

Ida Dahlström, who lives in Åkersberga outside of Stockholm, could suspect that her hair loss was related to stress. She had for several years lived in poor relationships. She had three children in different ages – today they are 17, 10 and 2,5 years old, – and therefore have different needs. Additionally, she worked a lot as a salesman.

– As many other mothers I rushed through life, and forgot to prioritize myself.

The stress started to show – in the hair. Gradually, during a few years time, Ida Dahlström lost almost half of her hair. When she showered there would be a big ball of hair by the drain on the floor, when she brushed her hair the hairbrush was full of hair, and she could no longer wear black clothes – her back was quickly covered in light hairs. When she woke up in the mornings she examined the pillow to see how much hair she had lost over night. She often stood in front of the mirror to eye her sparse hair. Twisted and turned her hair to see if the head itself showed. Close friends and family was carefully wondering what was happening – why was she loosing so much hair?

– I lost self-esteem, this created a great stress within me. When you start to loose your hair you understand of how much of your femininity is related to just that. For men, hair loss is seen as normal aging. They can shave off all their hair, but a woman would not want to do that. I am only 37-years-old, am I going to be bald for the rest of my life, I wondered. In spots I was almost bare. I initially had that thin, Nordic hair, and with that is really shows when you start to loose your hair.

Ida Dahlström became hair-fixated. On the subway she noticed other women that also had thin hair. But she also registered those men with a long, flowing mane.

– I became very careful with my hair. I almost did not dare to brush it or wash it, because then I would loose so much. I stopped dying or doing highlights. I bought the smallest hair clips possible, but my tiny ponytail slipped right out of the clip. I had so little hair it could not be done up.

Ida Dahlström sought care through multiple different doctors, no one could figure out what was wrong.

– The tests looked good, the doctors could not find anything wrong. I am not the weak type, I am tall, strong, and have always workout a lot. The doctors could not help me but established that my hair would probably come back when I stopped stressing. For me that was not enough. It felt to uncertain, I wanted by hair back – now.

She desperately fumbled for help. She went to the pharmacy and health food stores and cleaned the shelf of preparations that stimulate hair growth.

– I spent a fortune on tablets and supplements. For over a year I ate different pills. But nothing happened. I did a hair mineral analysis and got more tips on what supplements to eat. It was determined that my body required magnesium, and that my thyroid gland and adrenal gland did not work the way they were supposed to. I got in touch with a Kinesiologist that made me live a healthy lifestyle. That itself was positive. I have done a great change with my live, specifically when it comes to the diet. I have started to eat healthy foods, and I am nowadays careful with sugar and white flower. And above all, I try to avoid stressing.

The turning point for Ida Dahlström was a so called PRP-treatment, which slows down the hair loss and stimulate hair growth. PRP has long been used within sports medicine, but research has shown that PRP also is effective against hair loss. PRP is now a method that is used all over the world.

– I researched and read up on PRP, saw that it seemed serious and that treatments often had good results. I went to the Nordic Hair Clinic and there my problems were taken seriously for the first time. A thorough examination was completed and I was told that my hair loss was due to hormonal reasons, which was connected to the stress. My scalp and my follicles were examined with a camera, and it could be established that they had entered a resting phase, but that they were not dead.

Ida Dahlström did three PRP-treatments with one month apart.

– For me PRP-treatment had an immediate positive effect. In May I did the last treatment and my hair is now growing out. Hopefully, I will soon look the way I did before I started to lose hair. The last time I visited my hairdresser she told me that she saw multiple hairs on their way out. I cried in relief. I cannot explain how stressful the hair loss has been for me.

Were the treatments expensive?
– 13 000 SEK for all three treatments. But I could have pain the double to get my hair back.

Are you still hair-stressed?
– No, it has been relieved now. I don’t think about my hair at all, which is positive as stress contributes to hair loss.

”In most cases there is help”

Don’t go around for years worrying about your hair loss. Seek help on time. That is hair specialist Mats Stolts’ best advice.

He does not recommend trying to treat yourself and your hair loss, and self medicate with different tablets, vitamins, shampoos and oils, without identifying the cause of the hair loss. It can even make the potential for suitable and effective treatment more difficult.

– I meet women that have lost their hair for many years, some times for decennials. They have been carrying so much worry. It is unnecessary. To get an answer about what the hair loss is caused by and what can be done for it makes most people feel calm and safe. Just relieving the hair-stress has a positive effect on the hair.  To manage these women’s worry is also an important part of the treatment, says Mats Stolts, biochemist, and Clinic Manager at Nordic Hair Clinic, one of the largest hair clinics in Europe, specializing in hair loss.

First and foremost the cause of the hair loss needs to be identified.

– Has the patient had the dengue fever? Been exposed to chock? Iron insufficiency? Issues with the thyroid gland? Many patients are sent to their Family Medicine Clinic for a blood samples and to check their level, Mats Stolt says.

Female hair loss is different from male hair loss, both when it comes to causes and appearance – for women the hair is typically thinned at the upper third to the upper half of the scalp. Heredity is the most common case of male hair loss. For women the causes are more complex and the hair loss is often due to a combination of factors. Stress, hormonal changes, iron insufficiency, pregnancy, and problems with the thyroid gland are common causes. With a growing age  – sometime already at the age of 40 – many women develop thinner hair. The hairs are weaker, or alternatively, the hair follicles produce less hair. The result however is always the same: a feeling of significantly less hair.

Stress is a crucial factor. Many women that have experienced stress for a long period of time – both related to their life and their hair loss – visits the clinic. Project managers and teachers are the most common professions – typical professions where you have a hard time influencing your work situation. Young career driven women in their 30’s and 40’s that works a lot, have a family, and exercises hard are an even more common patient group.

– If you add stress to an already existing iron insufficiency there is a great risk of hair loss, says Mats Stolt.

To work a lot is not dangerous itself. It is as always the deep, dull stress that has an impact on the body – and the hair.

– To lay awake at night and think about the relationship. To constantly think about your job. Stress appears to have a greater impact on women than on men. We almost never see men with stress related hair loss. We actually fairly often recommended our customers to attend CBT-therapy to gain control over the stress. CBT helps with stress, and therefore with hair loss, says Mats Stolt.

Many women are also helped by PRP, an effective form of treatment for hair loss. PRP has for decennials been used diligently in the sports medicine, and to treat arthritis. Nowadays it is also a common method to stimulate hair growth worldwide.

A tube of blood from the patient is collected and centrifuged to separate the plasma with the very small platelets, called thrombocyte, from the rest of the plasma and from the red blood cells.  The thrombocytes consists largely of growth factors, a form of the body’s own protein with a positive impact on the activity of the hair follicles. The blood plasmas are injected with multiple small needle pokes into the chosen areas of the scalp.

– Many of our patients respond well to PRP. The result is individual, but three treatments are common. In almost all cases the hair loss is slowed down, but many people get their hair back, says Mats Stolt.

What about supplements?
– If you have iron insufficiency you should of course take iron supplements, and those who have issues with the thyroid gland often gets Levaxine. When it comes to regular supplements I am hesitant. Few people in Sweden suffer from malnutrition. If you just moved to Sweden from Syria or any other war area, then yes. At that time vitamins may be needed to balance the body. Otherwise, my experience is that supplements have a marginal impact on hair loss, says Mats Stolt.

He wished that more people knew that they could get help.

– In most cases there is a solution. Not all women can get the hair back, however, the hair loss can almost always be slowed down. Just the fact that you stop the existing hair loss makes the women let go of their hair loss, focus on other things and regain a good quality of life, says Mats Stolt.

Most common causes for female hair loss

  • Stress
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Iron insufficiency
  • Hormonal changes
  • Heredity
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications
  • The skin disease Alopecia Areata (patchy hair loss, an autoimmune disease, closely related to Alopecia Totals, where all hair on the body disappears.)
  • Telogen Effluvium (the body goes through a traumatic experiences,  difficult operation, severe infection, extreme stress and the hair follicles enters a resting phase and the hair falls off.

How female hair loss is treated

Iron supplements/iron injections: For those with iron insufficiency.

The pharmaceutical Levaxine: For those with thyroid disorder.

The Pharmaceutical Minoxidil: Is sold in Sweden under the brand names Rogaine, Recrea and Orifarm. Increases the blood vessels’ diameters and gives increased blood flow. The expanded blood vessels give more oxygen to the hair follicles, which result sin nutrients reaching the area.

The pharmaceutical Finasteride: Is used in Sweden only for men.

PRP: Stimulates new creation of small blood vessels, and triggers inactive hair follicles to enter an active growth phase. When resting hair follicles are activated increased amount of hairs grow.

CBT-Therapy: Effective for stress, and therby for hair loss.

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