That’s me – with mighty big hair. As you can tell, I have red hair, well it’s really more strawberry blonde, but I’ve been classified as a redhead. I have the fair skin and freckles to go with it. As a child, I was often picked on and teased because of the color of my hair. I was called “coppertop”, “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” (yes, I have the unfortunate combination of having red hair and Clifford as my last name) and told “I’d rather be dead than red on the head”. Even as a teenager, I would hear things like “no offense, but I’d hate to have hair like that” – mostly centered around the fact that I didn’t tan like everyone else and my friends feeling sorry for me and my perpetual need for sunscreen. I was constantly counseled on what colors I should and shouldn’t wear for “hair like that”. I hated my hair color.
As I aged, though, I realized the power and thrill of being a redhead. I enjoy being the only redhead in a room full of bottle blondes and brunettes. I get compliments now and people telling me they wish they had my hair. Naturally, my hair is very much a part of my identity. When I am meeting someone that I haven’t met before, I usually describe myself by saying “I’ll be the tall redhead” and people usually find me with no problem. I delight in pictures my children draw of me using bright orange or red crayons to depict my hair.
It’s funny how things change. I am now quite honestly terrified of turning gray and of losing my hair – the same hair I wished I didn’t have when I was younger. I know it’s vain, but it’s the truth. Often, when the seasons change, I go through what I call a molting process where I seem to lose more hair than normal. But recently, I’ve been losing a lot of hair. Like handfuls. My normally thick hair now requires an extra twist of the ponytail holder, because my hair has become so thin. Each time I brush my hair, it seems like more falls out. My kids are even complaining about finding my hair all over the place. I’m not sure if it’s just my normal “molting” or if it’s because of my thyroid.
Hair loss can be a sign that your thyroid hormones are off – the same for dry, brittle hair and thinning eyebrows. There is a great article on the Women’s Health Network website about why thyroid imbalance causes hair loss. You can read it here.
Thyroid guru, Mary Shomon, also writes about hair loss due to thyroid imbalance in a recent article published on About.Com. She states: “Hair loss can also result from being UNDERtreated…not being at the right TSH, or not taking the right drugs for you. An increasing number of doctors believe that a TSH of around 1 – 2 is optimal for most people to feel well and avoid having hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms such as hair loss.” She also provides suggestions on alternative treatments, such as using primrose oil. I encourage you to read her informative article. (See http://thyroid.about.com/cs/hairloss/a/hairloss.htm).
It’s often hard to determine whether hair loss is normal and what the ultimate cause is. I encourage you, though, to keep track of all of your symptoms (even if you aren’t sure if they are relevant) and discuss them with your doctor. You are your own best advocate. I keep telling myself that my hair loss hasn’t reached the point where I need to be overly concerned, but I need to take my own advice. I need to talk to my Doctor about it, not just because of my vanity, but to be sure it’s not a sign of another underlying health issue. In the grand scheme of life, hair may seem like a silly thing to worry over, but sometimes those things “little” things like changes in hair and skin can be your body’s way of telling you something’s up. Don’t take chances and share those little things with your doctors – it could help your doctor find something big.
-By Blythe Clifford