Useful Stuff to Know » article » Sudden Hair Loss and Itchy Scalp » Feb 7, 01:17 PM

Sudden Hair Loss and Itchy Scalp

Not all hair loss is due to “getting older” or “because it runs in the family.” Sometimes people in their twenties and thirties experience sudden episodes of hair loss, and it can be quite worrying. It certainly was for me, but I resolved it and will explain what I did.

First, I ruled out that it wasn’t any of the following:

  • recently having had a baby
  • recently having undergone extreme stress or trauma
  • chemotherapy
  • genetic reasons

Second, I looked at the possible remaining reasons:

  • iron and protein deficiency: wasn’t an issue, as I was getting enough meat, but for vegetarians/vegans and those on poor diets this can definitely be a factor.
  • copper/zinc imbalance: yes I had been taking zinc supplements without copper supplements, which is known to create copper deficiency and thus hair loss.
  • sodium overload: definitely, was eating salty soups and my own cured turkey bacon every day for two weeks before my hair started falling out. Excess sodium can be excreted through the skin, but it accumulates on the scalp and may choke off hair follicles. Some articles on the net say it’s a myth that too much salt causes hair loss, but I really beg to differ.
  • scalp yeast issues: yes, tingling or itchiness of the scalp can be due to dryness or over-proliferation of natural scalp yeasts. I read that each tingle is a hair follicle dying. What aggravates yeast is dry scalp and too much wheat, dairy, and sugar.

So I decided to do the following:

  • Reduced my sodium intake. It was okay to sprinkle salt on foods, as long as the foods weren’t already loaded with salt. Soup, cured meats, fast food, junk food, and cheese tend to be high in sodium. I stayed off those. Rice, oats, fresh chicken/beef/lamb/fish and fresh or frozen (not canned) vegetables are my staple now.
  • Got some copper/zinc supplements. Particularly, a multi-mineral supplement that had those and some other goodies in it. The one I ordered was Bone Strength @ iherb.com (coupon/referral code HOM697 gets $5 off first order). It has other things like calcium, magnesium, boron, etc… that I probably needed anyway.
  • Reduced sugar and dairy intake. Too much sugar saturates the blood and feeds yeast. This is a big one. Dairy especially — seems like every time I had too much dairy, my scalp would start itching six hours later and more hair would fall out even more the next day. Some half-n-half in coffee or tea was fine, but anything more, including a cup of yoghurt, was bad bad bad. So, no more dairy for me. Loads of fruit or honey also had that effect, so it’s probably the sugars doing it. Not a big deal cutting out dairy, since the supplement mentioned above had calcium. Interestingly, half-n-half did not give this effect, hence I suspect it’s an issue with lactose and/or milk proteins. Milk proteins (primarily casein, not whey) can penetrate the intestinal walls and enter the blood stream undigested, causing reactions.
  • Applied olive oil to my scalp. This really helped me with dryness and is a well-known folk remedy for improving hair and scalp conditions. I put five drops into my left palm, rub both palms together, then swiped fingers of both hands across the palms of the other hand and massaged these oiled fingers gently onto my scalp. This drastically reduced my itching and therefore probably curtailed the yeast growth. (I also do a drops rubbed onto my face after washing in the morning, beats every moisturizer I have ever tried and makes my face look healthy).

Within two or three weeks my hair stopped falling out, and now little hairs started growing back in. Overall my hair started getting fuller again. It’s been two months now and all my hair is back and barely anything falls out after showering, even after vigorous rubbing with a towel to dry it. So my little research project to figure out the causes and address this issue worked for me.

In summary, cut back on the salt and sweets for at least two weeks, then see if hair stops falling out. The best way to check for hair loss is to get up after waking, go to the sink, and quickly rub your hair to see how many hairs fall into the sink. Now that I avoid high salt and high sugar diets, I might get only 3-5 hairs which is normal. When I had the problems mentioned above, there would be 20-30.