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Online clinic on skin conditions - Sept 2019

British Skin Foundation raise money to fund research for cures for skin disease and skin cancer etc
Action Against Allergy (AAA) provides information, advice and support to those made chronically ill through the many different forms of allergy and those who care for them.

talkhealth > Clinics > Online Clinics Index > Online clinic on skin conditions - Sept 2019 > Hair Loss

Hair Loss

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Going white overnight!

Postby Leislei61 on Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:33 pm

A few months ago now, all my dark hair fell out in the space of about four weeks, leaving me with bald patches. My hair is growing back - but I am totally snow white. I never believed in the going white overnight phenomenon......until now.

My GP & dermatologist were at something of a loss. They called it teluvium effluvium or something, but couldn't tell me why only my dark hair was affected.
Previously, I had "badger" streaks - now I look like a dandelion. I have to say, I've wept buckets.
Clearly, it is not "colourable" - as it is very fine and wispy, although there seems to be a lot of hair. In any case, I have had very severe eczema since I was 2 years old (I'm now 57) and I'm not risking it. It's some years since my scalp was last severely affected.

From a biochemical perspective - I am a craniopharyngioma survivor of 13 years - so take thyroxine 100mcgs daily (a dose that hasn't changed in a long time), and blood testing did not reveal anaemia. As an atopic, my last IgE was around 410, with an eosoninophil count of 0.3

I have no idea how to care for my new hair - or how to encourage its growth/health/thickness &etc.

From a social perspective, all the colours that used to suit me no longer do - so I'm confused about what to wear etc.

As I've always been told I was ugly from childhood because of the eczema, my "body image" has always been poor, and the weight changes associated with the craniopharyngioma have not helped. In the past decade my weight has swung between 105kg and 60kg - and these days, owing to hypothalamic damage, unusually, I struggle to keep weight on.
I feel I look like I'm 90 years old now, and I hate going out. But I have to go to work, of course. People comment on it the whole time.
While I am now certain nothing can be done, I would like to know why this has happened. Yet again, I'm left feeling as if I'm a freak.
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Re: Going white overnight!

Postby Dr Sharon Wong on Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:16 pm


Thank you for your question and sorry to hear about how your hair has been affecting you.

The "white over-night" phenomenon is well described in alopecia areata. This is considered an autoimmune condition in which the patient's own immune system attacks the bulb of growing hair follicles. As hair follicles in the growing phase have the most active pigment cells these pigmented hairs are affected, sparing the non-pigmented ones.
In 80% of adult onset alopecia areata that appears in patches, the hair can grow back spontaneously but fpor many people the regrowth hairs are white, and eventually the colour does return but it can take many months.
As the hair is growing back you will not require any additional treatment on this front but regarding your main concern about how to style/colour your hair, have you discussed this with your hairdresser?
If you are still at a loss it may be of interest to you to attend the Get Ahead of Hair Loss event www.getaheadofhairloss.com in which hair experts unite in a one day programme to offer support, information and advice on managing hair loss - including medical therapies psychological support and cosmetic solutions.

I hope this helps,


Dr Sharon Wong
Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson
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Dr Sharon Wong
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