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Anorexia’s Effect on Hair Growth

Eating disorders are a shock to the body’s natural balance, and anorexia nervosa is no exception. Withholding nutrients and denying the body the vitamins and nourishment that it needs forces various bodily functions to react violently in an attempt to cope. A lack of important proteins and vitamins will cause the body to reallocate all available nutrients to the most vital parts of your body to survive.

During an eating disorder, the body’s prioritization of vital organs causes functions like the regulation of hair, skin, and nails to quickly deteriorate. People experiencing anorexia or recovering from anorexia can experience dramatic hair thinning and hair loss. Hair loss resulting from anorexia is often related to a condition telogen effluvium.

Telogen Effluvium

To understand telogen effluvium, it’s best to first understand the normal cycle of hair growth. This cycle is simply growth, rest, and shedding. New hairs grow for a couple of years, enter the resting phase (called telogen) for a couple of months, and eventually shed, making room for new hair.

Telogen effluvium is typically initiated when the body undergoes a traumatic event. Healthy hair follicles prematurely enter the telogen phase, causing them to fall out more quickly than they otherwise would have. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, as many as 70% of hair on the scalp can be affected. Though telogen effluvium can cause hair to loosen and shed in concentrated areas or evenly, it is uncommon for it to cause the appearance of a receding hairline.

Recovery and Hair Regrowth

Fortunately, for most people, telogen effluvium is reversible once the body starts recovering. Those recovering from anorexia can continue to experience the effects of hair loss for upwards of eight months. If you believe that your hair may be falling out due to telogen effluvium, a doctor can help you confirm the cause and decide on treatment moving forward. When reversing hair loss isn’t a viable option, there are still solutions to permanently adjust the appearance of your scalp. Call the team at Hairline Ink at 585-250-0835 to discuss if micropigmentation is the right solution for you.

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