Is stress causing you to lose your hair?

Diagram of the cross section of hair
Diagram of the cross section of hair

There’s a condition where  a stressful event such as surgery, trauma, childbirth, extreme weight loss, severe illness, extreme emotional stress or other causes of stress causes your hair to fall out.  This condition is called telogen effluvium.  Telogen is a phase of the normal hair cycle.  It also happens to be the cycle where hair is shed off the scalp.  In this condition, many of the hairs enter into this telogen phase at the same time and end up being shed around the same time.  The shedding usually happens a few months after the stressful event.  The good news is that after the stressful event is resolved, the hair usually grows back.

A dermatologist is a physician that specializes in skin, hair and nails.  If you are not sure what is causing your hair loss, get it checked out.  Sometimes the hair can be gently pulled or forcibly plucked to examine the stage of the hair.  In telogen effluvium, a larger than normal percentage of the hairs that are plucked for sampling would be in telogen phase.  The distribution of hair loss on your scalp and the skin of your scalp will also be examined.  Sometimes hair loss can be multifactorial.  In difficult cases of hair loss, biopsies (sampling) of the scalp may be necessary to help diagnose your hair loss.

Pesky leg veins? They can be treated!

PregnantWomanThe wear and tear that comes with time shows up on our skin.  For many of us, adulthood and various stages of life (eg pregnancy) come with skin changes.  I’ve recently had several patients ask me about pesky spider veins and varicose veins.

These are veins that become dilated or “loose” over time. They lose their elasticity and like old panty hose, become loose and wider.  They become more visible through the skin and this becomes a cosmetic concern for many.  Like leaky pipes, they also become functionally deficient.

So how can varicose veins and spider veins be treated?

A number of treatments exist for each type of dilated vein.  The varicose veins can be removed or “stripped” surgically, or a laser device can be inserted up the vein to destroy the vein.  Sometimes special solutions can be injected that will also lead to destruction of the vein, a procedure called sclerotherapy.  Sclerotherapy can also be done for spider veins.  Spider veins are called such because the appearance of the reddish or purplish veins can resemble legs of a spider.  A special laser can also be used to get rid of these spider veins, although this treatment is sometimes less effective than sclerotherapy.

If you are interested in removal, find a surgeon who is experienced in spider vein and varicose vein removal. Dermatologists often perform sclerotherapy and laser treatment for the smaller spider veins, whereas vascular surgeons or interventional radiologists often take care of varicose vein removal.

Additionally, ask your physician about compression stockings.  These are stockings that can be bought both off the shelf and are also available by prescription.  Your physician can determine how much compression is appropriate for you and prescribe these socks for you.  As someone who is on her feet a lot at work, I have found these compression stockings to be very helpful in preventing leg and foot fatigue and preventing the appearance of dilated veins.  During pregnancy, the legs often swell, and this becomes a time when women develop these dilated veins.  It would be a good idea to talk to your obstetrician about compression stockings if you are experiencing the swelling or dilated veins.