Nursing school=stress=hair loss???

  1. Hi everyone! I've just joined this site and I want to say that so far, the experiences I've read about have been funny and inspiring! I hope to have great experiences as well.

    Ok, here's what's going on. See, I started nursing school at the end of the year last year. Early into the new year, I noticed a lot of my hair has been falling out to the point that I had to see my dermatologist because the hair at the crown was really thinning out. I'm super self-conscious. I know, I've been told that it doesn't matter and that I shouldn't care what people think, but I've always had a lower self-esteem and this hair loss really doesn't help things.

    My doctor said that it's most likely telogen effluvium because when she questioned me, I told her that I recently started nursing school and she said that my shedding is due to the stress.

    I mean, I know that normally, hair falls out every day. I have no problem with that, but I literally panicked when I started pulling strands and strands of hair in the shower and when I saw them around the drain, or even when I run my fingers through my hair.

    I've been told that the hair loss could be genetic too. Yes, my mom has thinner, finer hair, but my hair is like my dad's. His hair is thick and "dense" I guess you can say.

    I've been told that usually the hair starts to grow back within 6 months or so, but I had a follow up not too long ago and my doctor said that since I'll be in nursing school for two more years, most likely my hair might shed on and off still because of the environment and the stressful situations from testing to clinicals.

    Has anybody else experienced this? I feel so stupid for bringing this up, but it's really bothering me. Also, I'm not looking for a relationship or even to date, but hey, I feel like an ugly duckling when a cute guy walks by because of other body image issues, but I feel like an even uglier duckling because of this hair loss. Also, in my culture and family, the question is often, "Do you have a boyfriend yet? No? Why not?" or "When are you getting married?" So, I'm feeling a little pressured, you know?
  2. Visit katinthehat29 profile page

    About katinthehat29

    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 9; Likes: 2


  3. by   decembergrad2011
    It's hard for me to say whether my thinning hair was due to stress, genetics, or a combination of both. Both of my parents have experienced thinning hair as they've gotten older.

    Do you regularly straighten your hair or use heat products? How often do you wash/condition? What kind of shampoo and conditioner do you use?

    I noticed that my hair was healthier and felt thicker when I embraced my natural texture (wavy) and stopped using all heat products. I haven't straightened my hair since...actually I can't remember. I have not straightened it in a long time, nor blow dried it either. I also began using sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, and I now only wash my hair every three days or so, and condition it every other day. All of this will decrease stripping your hair and breaking it.

    I have gray hair, so I do dye my hair, but I try to space it out as far as possible. I typically will do 9-12 weeks instead of 6 so that I am only dyeing my hair 4-5 times a year instead of 8 or 9.

    If you feel that excessive stress is taking an emotional toll on you, I would look into counseling services at your school and see what they offer. I spoke to someone during my time in school and, after years and years in therapy, it eventually led me to get on an anti-depressant which has helped immensely with my anxiety.
  4. by   zoey88
    i have experienced the same thing you have. my hair is much thinner than it ever was & i actually have an appt set to see the dermatologist. nursing school def takes a toll on your health if you cant manage stress well. good luck hopefully we wont go bald! lol
  5. by   katinthehat29
    Hi! Ok, I don't use any heat products on my hair, the most heat it gets is from a hot shower or sunlight.

    I wash and condition my hair maybe every other day now because my hair gets oily after about a day or two. The thing is, my scalp gets pretty itchy and after a shower, it's itchy, red, and warm.

    I know I stress a lot, I've always been like that even in high school. I even ended up in the hospital with gastritis. I don't color or blow dry my hair either.

    For each of my nursing courses, my teachers have had to pull me aside and tell me to breathe. I used to take zen meditation classes, but I had to stop because school became waaaay too hectic. I've gotten somewhat better with anxiety over the years and my family has made an effort to lessen my responsibilities like pick-ups/drop-offs or running errands when they know I'm studying.

    I had blood work done and as far as I know, I have no deficiencies.

    I'm curious about sulfate-free shampoos though. I know certain shampoos have different sulfates. Would you say to stay away from any type of sulfate? I know that when I used Herbal Essence, I feel like A LOT of my hair was falling. Is there some sort of connection? I stopped using it, but of course, I'm still shedding. Not as much as when I used Herbal Essence though.

    Do you have any suggestions for shampoos/conditioners that are more gentle on the hair? My doctor also prescribed a ketoconazole shampoo for the inflammation and redness she saw. I'm to use it once a week.
  6. by   katinthehat29
    Quote from zoey88
    i have experienced the same thing you have. my hair is much thinner than it ever was & i actually have an appt set to see the dermatologist. nursing school def takes a toll on your health if you cant manage stress well. good luck hopefully we wont go bald! lol
    Ohhh boy! I hope we don't! Nursing school really does take its toll, but I'm sure we can get through it! All I can do now is try to be as gentle as possible with my hair and find ways to de-stress. Actually, I've been doing these deep breathing exercises that I learned in zen meditation and thinking as positively as I can. Does it help? Who knows, but I'll keep doing what I can lol
  7. by   decembergrad2011
    I use the "Love, Peace, Planet" line by Tigi. They have everything from shampoo and conditioner to other styling products. I would just look on the back of your bottles and make sure it doesn't have anything with "sulfate" in the ingredients list.

    Is it possible for you to get back into the meditation class?

    Positive thinking works wonders. At one point, I wrote out positive traits about myself on 20 index cards, spread them out on a desk, and took a picture. I made it the screensaver on my laptop for almost two years. Being able to look at that list helped me more than I knew at the time.
  8. by   katinthehat29
    Thank you so much, decembergrad2011. I'm really going to try to think more positively. I think that it's just so easy and so natural to think of the worst case scenario so that if things go awry, I don't feel disappointed or stupid.

    I just started fundamentals, patho, and health assessment and I'm feeling kind of swamped so going back to my meditation class isn't really an option at the moment. Thank you again for the advice. When I try to ask for help, I get a shrug and "Uhhh, just go see your doctor." I noticed that your signature says BSN, RN as of June 2012, congratulations!!!! I send my best regards and a lifetime of success!!!
  9. by   PolaBar
    I have some serious hair loss likely due to PCOS (poly-cycstic ovarian syndrome). It is a metabolic disorder associated with obesity/overweight and increased risk of diabetes. Sadly, I haven't found anything that works, so I just keep my head covered (pretty much anywhere the hair leaves my head you can see scalp). I have a pinky-width ponytail.
  10. by   applewhitern
    My hair was thinning badly because I had a hyperactive thyroid (actually Grave's disease) about 10 years ago. Now that my thyroid is corrected, I have thick, healthy hair. My daughter has poly-cystic-ovarian disease, and it makes her hair fall out. She tries everything, but nothing helps. I presently use only sulfate-free hair products; once you get used to them, they are great. I do not use hot water when I shower/shampoo, more like warm. I lather-up ONCE, always condition, and use nothing but a wide-tooth comb (I never use a hair-brush, period!) And my hair is thick, healthy, and shiny. I once used Infusium brand shampoo, and it made my scalp itchy.
  11. by   applewhitern
    Another thought: Poly-cystic ovarian disease is hard to diagnose. Look it up and see if you have any other symptoms of this. From what I have researched about it, it goes "un-diagnosed" a lot, and many doctors don't listen to their patients about vague symptoms. My daughter went thru years of different doctors before finally being diagnosed, even tho she has every symptom, from hair loss to infertility.
  12. by   DizzyLizzyNurse
    My hair did fall out in nursing school. It was due to stress from nursing school and personal issues going on in my life, plus I worked full time and went to school full time. My hair was falling out, I had acid reflux (never had it before, haven't had it since), my face was broken out ALL the time, I gained 50 lbs, and had terrible insomnia. Once I got rid of the personal issues, it all stopped.

    But I also agree with the previous poster about poly cystic ovarian disease.
  13. by   katinthehat29
    Oh wow, thank you, everyone! I've never even considered PCOS. See, I considered asking my doctor about it, but I'm kind of nervous because I'm afraid if I'm presribed birth control pills or any other medication, that my hair will fall out even more and/or I will have mood swings because my best friend takes BC pills and her moods are all over the place. I guess I'm just nervous about not being in tip top shape when I hit clinicals. However, I did notice that though I'm quite active in that I walk as much as possible, I used to take martial arts, I like to swim, etc.. and I eat a fair diet I think. I'm not too fond of fast food or junk food and I try to drink a couple glasses of water a day (no soda whatsoever), but I have such a hard time losing weight.

    Also, my periods are irregular, but I figured that wasn't really a big deal. Sometimes I have my period every 35 days, every 2 months, or every 6 months. When I was younger my pediatrician would often check to see if I had a thyroid issue, but that never seemed to be the case. I know that the previous poster mentioned that PCOS is hard to diagnose, but is there a way to test for sure? When I look up information on it, there isn't all too much for me to go on and I don't know how reliable the sources are.

    I have tried to switch to more natural shampoos and conditioners, but I don't know if there's a difference. It hasn't been long so I guess I'll just have to wait and see?