Finally getting some Hair Help.

So last week I decided to do the brave thing and look into getting some hair help, or rather, “helper hair” as so beautifully put by a couple of hair folks I follow online.  My loss has been such a slow, emotionally painful process that I am really the only one who notices on a daily basis unless folks actually take the time to look at me properly. Then they realise, “Holy shit, Ren! You’ve lost your hair!”  It’s been a massive blow to my confidence and self esteem to say the least and has been the catalyst for some major depression and significant weight gain.

Well, no, the emotional eating due to the depression has been the catalyst to the weight gain. But the hair thing hasn’t helped at all with that.

Anyway, after spending ages looking and websites that sold wigs and toppers (in Australia), I settled on easiwigs.com.au.  I had contacted a couple of other sites in regards to help but never received a response. Seriously, NOTHING turns me off a site that supposedly “helps” people when they don’t respond to a simple query, particularly when they invite people to contact them for help.

Whatevs.

While I didn’t bother to pre-contact easiwigs, I did find that they were the only hair folks that offered a colour ring loan scheme where you could purchase and return one and the money you spent on the ring is used as a store credit off a hair piece.  Works for me.  I have been having such a difficult time trying to choose colours that I realise that I really did need to see things up close and actually compare the shades available to what’s left on my own noggin. See, I am technically blonde, but I am literally the darkest shade of blonde before you could call me light brown. And I’m an ashy blonde at that. And you know what? That ashy-too-dark-to-be-blonde-too-light-to-be-brown colour is hard to find! ARGH!

So I was stoked when I got the colour ring in the post and rushed home to take a squizzy at the samples. I was actually really pleased to see these in person rather than rely on the computer screen. If I had, I would have made TOTALLY the wrong decision in colours. What I thought was a match clearly wasn’t.

Renlish.com - Jon Renau Synthetic Color Ring
Jon Renau colour ring for synthetic hair.

Of course I had a Moment™ when I saw the hair. This was happening. This shit’s real. Cue tears. Again.

I don’t have to get hair. I really don’t. I just look like a person with thin hair. But I’ve always had a head full of the stuff (fine textured as it may have been) and to lose a third, possibly more, of it in the last year after having been through various effluviums over the past few years has been hard to come to terms with. Seeing the balding patch at the front of my hairline and my widening parting has been more than a little upsetting to me.

Fortunately I don’t need a full wig yet – I honestly have no idea if I will ever get to that point. I suppose that’s the lucky thing about having androgynous alopecia. I am not losing big patches of hair and ending up with bald spots. It’s diffuse and constant all over. So I really only need what is called a “topper” (a hair piece that clips in on top of ones crown) at this point just to add a little more coverage and volume.

There are a couple of Jon Renau toppers floating around that I quite like – the med-length layered look is my typical style and there are some pretty ones in the synthetic hair so it made sense to go and take a look at the JN colour ring.

My perfect match – absolutely perfect – is #14 on the blonde collection (the darkest blonde). At a stretch I can do #12 on the brown collection (the lightest brown).

But do you reckon the toppers I like come in those shades?

BWAHAHAHA!

No.

I can see that this little endeavour of mine will take a little more patience and perhaps some compromise, particularly since I have to stick to the synthetic hair for the time being. The human hair toppers, while easy to be customised to my desired colour and style are more than a little out of my price range.

I’m trying to see the fun in it. I can go crazy colours. I can dye my bio hair to match. This can be a fun adventure instead of a trial. The positives can outweigh the negatives.

I’m not dying – and I can finally be a red head.

Aldactone (Spironolactone) for Hair Loss

My experience with Aldactone (otherwise known as Spironolactone) has been interesting.

Please be aware that everything in this post is based on information I was given from my own doctor and should not be seen as medical advice! This is based on my experiences only. Please consult your doctor before starting any new medication.

Renlish.com - Aldactone for Hair Loss

 

My Story:

In July 2014 my hair started to fall out again. This would be the fourth time in a period of about 18 years. My GP ran the usual plethora of blood tests to see what might have been the cause. Unfortunately those results told the doctor and I very little about why it might be happening. Apart from being dangerously low in B12 and D vitamins and having a very high bilirubin reading, there really is no real medical reason my GP could find. I had not recently been pregnant/given birth so I couldn’t attribute the loss to those sorts of hormones either. So he sent me off to a well-regarded dermatologist who is somewhat of a specialist in hair loss.

The specialist examined me and told me what I already knew; I was experiencing an effluvium and he proceeded to tell me all about Telogen Effluvium. I will write another post about that later, though my response to his explanation was that I already knew I was going through that sort of effluvium. I needed know WHY so I could perhaps treat the cause and not the symptom. He then had a good, up-close look at my hair and reported that there was fairly extensive signs of follicle shrinkage.

In other words, Androgynous Alopecia, better known as female pattern baldness.

Women, like men, can lose their hair. Unlike men, for most women it’s a case of a diffuse loss all over the scalp though concentrated at the hairline and crown.

Sounds delightful, eh? No, not really.  This was not my specific diagnosis but the specialist did consider it a major contributing factor. There is no way to reverse the damage of the alopecia. The shrinkage* is permanent. However, the plan was to stop or slow the hair fall. This is where spironolactone comes in.

*Follicle shrinkage means that the hairs grow back finer and finer until they do not grow back at all.

What is Spironolactone / Aldactone?

Spironolactone, more commonly prescribed as the medication, Aldactone, is actually a diuretic that is given to people who are suffering from specific illnesses which cause fluid retention and high blood pressure.  Unlike regular “water pills” that you can get over the counter at your pharmacy, spironolactone is a potassium-sparing diuretic. As such, it can only be used to treat certain illnesses or symptoms and needs to be prescribed by your doctor and usage must be regularly monitored via blood tests.Taken without monitoring, it can raise the potassium in your system to dangerous levels, causing other disorders and illnesses.

That being said, of the handy side-effects of the drug is that is it also an anti-androgen which inhibits the body’s natural production of dihydrotesterone, the hormone responsible for hair loss.  At the same time it can also help with hirsutism and acne.  It is this anti-androgen which makes it an ideal medical treatment for hair loss, in theory.

I say in theory as it’s commonly thought that Aldactone can help regenerate hair follicles and make new hair grow – unfortunately this is not the case. It has not been proven to do so.

My Experience with Aldactone 100mg:

When I initially took the drug, I was advised to take half doses for a week as it may cause some dizziness.  That was good advice to get. My head spun after the first few doses but then things settled down.

I actually haven’t had any other bad side effects that I can think of.  Aldactone can make a mess of your menstrual cycle (as if it’s not messy enough! AMIRITE?!) however being on the contraceptive pill makes that a non-issue for me.

One GOOD side effect of the drug for me has been that my hair is nowhere near as oily as it used to be.  I was a 2nd-day washer.  My hair became very oily very quickly before I started on Aldactane, however I noticed within a few weeks of taking it I didn’t need to wash my hair nearly as often.  In fact, I can now get away with washing it once a week. The only time I really need to wash it is if I’ve been sweating or I want to style it nicely or I want to condition it because it’s looking a bit dry.  Otherwise it stays fluffy and pretty much “just washed” – which helps with the illusion of fuller hair, anyway.

I will admit that the lack of oily hair actually freaked me out a bit, so much so that I had to email my new hair loss guru, Lauren from Corner of Hope & Mane to see if it was normal. She was happy to report that it was.  Lauren’s blog is a great resource for people suffering from hair loss and a site that I found quite comforting when I was at my lowest while dealing with this problem.  I think I can attribute my feeling “ok” with things getting worse (if they do) to her.  So thanks, Lauren!

Another really good side effect is that the pimples on my face have all but vanished. Yes, I’m 36.  I should not be getting pimples, but I do and I’m a picker so I am grateful that the spots are gone.

One of the widely reported side effects of Aldactone is that it can cause what is reported as “the dread shed”, where there is a massive shedding of hair a few weeks or a couple of months into taking the drug. I will admit I have not had this yet.  Considering I have been taking the drug for four months consistently, I don’t think I am likely to experience it now but I will certainly update if that changes.

Has Aldactone worked?
Renlish.com - Selfie
Christmas 2014 – very thin hair.

Yes.  And no.

Maybe?

I don’t know!

I have been taking the medication at the same time as trying many other things.  I also suffer from pompholyx so I am constantly on the look-out for skin products that won’t bring me out in an itchy, blistery mess.  I changed brands of shampoo and conditioner twice (I’m now using Dermaveen shower gel as well as the shampoo and conditioner), I’ve changed brands of oral contraceptive, I’ve started taking B12, Flaxseed oil, Vit D, Biotin and a mega multivitamin to help with my deficiencies. I’ve even been using laser light therapy on my hair semi-regularly for about eight weeks. Any or all of these, together with the Aldactone may be helping.

The hair loss has been lessened, this much I am sure of.

Has it stopped?  Sadly, no.  At this point in time, unless it does stop fairly soon, I am seriously considering investing in some “helper hair” to see me through.