sudden increase in hair shedding/THINNING, itchy scalp, plugs on the fallen hairs -
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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    Default sudden increase in hair shedding/THINNING, itchy scalp, plugs on the fallen hairs

    Hey guys-
    any sincere help with this, from someone that experienced this same kind of problem first-hand would be greatly appreciated, as this has become a serious worry, for which I can't find help..

    In the last 8 months I've suffered from a noticeable increase in shedding, and a drastic increase in the thinning of the hair on the front, top and crown of my head.. many fallen hairs, even outside this area have a big, hard, white/yellow plug at the end (hair cast/sebum-cholesterol plug?), which can be removed with a fingernail to reveal the normal small hair bulb thats normal in telogen phase hairs. Sometimes 2 or 3 hairs can be found together in one plug. These plugs can be with or without hairs and can be felt partially
    embedded in my scalp, and easily rubbed out with my finger. In many hairs in the top area theres a VERY obvious difference in the thickness of the hair between the outside end and the root end that meets the scalp. Even in 2 or 3 inch hairs, the outside end can be twice as thick as the part that met the scalp. In the top area which 8 months ago used to be some of the thickest hair I've had, I'm now finding vellus-thin short cycle hairs.

    I'll post pictures as soon as i can.

    The way it started...

    I'm 26 and in the last few years I noticed a very gradual receding in the temples, I understood this as inheriting the MPB gene, so I'd been using saw palmetto shampoo, and taking saw p supplements. The beginning of this year, recently beginning with zinc and a sulfate-free variety of saw p shampoo, with the cold/dry weather, I noticed a dry itch and started seeing these plugs, which alarmed me. Began washing less often to get the natural oils back.. still dry, itchy and plugs. Switched to baby shampoo, tried leave-in conditioner, adding oils (peanut/jojoba/tea tree), head and shoulders, and recently honey after reading about a study on seborreic dermatitis. Also tried
    combinations of the above.

    Went to a general practicioner and 4 dermatologists, who either diagnosed it as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema/psoriasis, or stress/nothing.

    I've been prescribed:

    selenium sulfate- tried for a couple weeks but was painful, which I figured was not a good sign

    olux-e steroid foam- used for 3-4 weeks, then a couple more weeks in combination with clobex steroid shampoo, noticed pain, redness more than ever before and stopped. (I'm concerned that increased thinning could be a result of long-term steroid use, as it's said to cause skin atrophy in cases)

    I recently have had a bit of help with ketoconazole 2% (Nizoral), but the thinning is still bad and itch isnt quite gone.

    I understand that MPB is the general culprit, but the itch and drastic thinning is a mystery.

    I'm trying to rule out:

    diet (but no major change that I can think of, stopped saw palmetto and zinc)
    allergic reaction

    fungal infection/yeast or mold reaction (found some mold in bed/bathroom but have cleaned thoroughly)

    seborrheic dermatitis from other cause (but little/no dandruff, and usually very dry, never over oily)

    eczema/psoriasis (but no red/scaly patches)

    hormone change/stress

    Even if I fix the itch, I imagine the hairs that have thinned aren't going to improve on their own, so I am looking at Rogaine (though it could make the itch/irritation worse), Propecia (very concerned about the safety of this drug for my sexuality and my girlfriend's health in the future) and hair transplantion
    (while I'm concerned about having good results with a scalp thats less than 100%)

    Anyone who has been kind enough to read this in full and can offer suggestions from first-hand experience, I'll be forever grateful. You could help improve someone's life a great deal. Much thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011



    Im 26 years old and I have the same exact scalp condition. I posted a thread about this recently.

    Ialso have very slight recession in the sides of the forhead over the course of the years. Im about a NW1 who had no prior hairloss till I had the sebum plug issue. Around last November, I noticed my hair falling out in hundreds each day, and attached was this hard sebum yellowish/white plug to the roots. Just like you, sometimes there were 2-3 hairs attached to each plug. I continued to lose hair for the next few days, and I lost my crown nearly overnight due to these plugs. it seemed like many of these plugs were in a diffuse pattern, but most of them were coming from the crown and top area.

    It took forever to get an appointment with a derm, and when I showed up, he diagnosed me with a fungal condition, he said it was seberheic dermatitis. Hairs were continuing to fall off my scalp in front of his eyes, they would sometimes literally pop out and sit on other hairs. He prescribed me 2% ketaconozole and adivsed me to use it for 30 days. After 30 days, he would put me on proscar or propecia just on the chance oto save from miniaturization...I wish he would have done this earlier because like I said..I lost my thick healthy hairs overnight.

    Ketaconozole helped kill the fungus, but upon discontinuation, the plugs would still come back. It seemed like I had to literally scrub my scalp daily with shampoo to reduce the amount of plugs..but the fungus always came back. I continued to lose hair due to the plugs, and finally i decided to take matters in my own hands. I went out and got tea tree oil, and mixed it with shampoo. I used this method daily scrubbing my head for about 45 reduced my fungus problem but the plugs still lingered around.

    Keep in mind, Propecia and proscar will not help with the plugs. You are losing hair because those plugs attach to the root, making them weak and brittle not allowing growth, and eventually the hairs will pop out themselves or when you run your fingers through.

    My last resort, was to get some Jojoba oil, and an organic shampoo. i mix about 5 drops of jojoba oil, and since using this remedy..the plugs have been significantly reduced. Not cured completely, but a big improvement. Jojoba oil helps reduce the overproduction of sebum. It seems like no one really knows a cure for this.

    Anyways, I still lose hair, but the number is nowhere near what it was. I have thick hair all around except the crown, but I can definitely start to see the loss in thickness. There is no doubt that these sebum plugs caused alot of damage. Not showering or shampooing will make this condition worse. I went out of town for 3 days and didnt shampoo, and the sebum plugs came back..not much..but they still existed. The only thing you can do is use jojoba oil daily to combat this, probably for the rest of your life.

    Unfortunately, if your on propecia or proscar like me, the sebum plugs are actually making it difficult for the medicine to be any good for us. Propecia/proscar prevent hair loss, but with sebum plugs lingering around and reforming..its almost useless. I will keep looking into this, and if you find out some more info let me know, because this problem is is killing hairs that are healthy and not ready to fall.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    Guys any updates with your conditions?

    I'm 29M and have the same exact situation described by you guys. I haven't gone to a Derm recently because truthfully, they are useless when it comes to diagnosing the cause of anything. I've had blood tests that have shown I've been severely deficient on Vitamin D. I also recently learned I have a Wheat allergy, which many people have, but it goes undiagnosed and hair shedding *MAY* be a possible secondary side effect to having an inflammation in our bodies.

    Wondering if you guys found a solution of any kind?

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014


    Bump! Updates?
    Exact same as Op. Im 19y and Went from full thick hair to receded Temples and thin top in a half year because of this... Itvall started on november 2013 when i saw these white balls in my hair and damn annoying itch. I first thought it was dandruff and didint worry about it for while. It started from my left Temple and slowly spread to my right Temple and finally whole top. ****ing sucks :') this shit disease ruined my perfect life.

    Only shampooing daily reduces it (im on fin and accutane and neither is helping at all..). Tried jojoba, tea tree and acv but didint see much improvement. Been gluten and dairy free too for weeks and thats not yelping either.
    I figured is that when i sweat alot when running, this Whiteish sebum stuff spills to the surface from my hair roots. And all these hairs in the affected area have these sebum balls in their roots and i lose alot of hair then.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014


    Alsssooooo! 20 years old, itchy scalp, a thinning I can see difference in 2 months, and the white plugs! It is awful. Any ideas? I got on propecia and it actually made my scalp itch alot less...

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2018


    I think I have the same thing. Whenever I use Ketoconazole 2% shampoo it's a godsend for my scalp. When I run out, I have the same problem. Have you every found a solution?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    Haha talk about timing. I just got a notice for your reply while I was searching for hair transplant clinics in turkey. So yeah, hair transplant is my solution and I'm planning to go in January.

    I never found a solution for the itch and shed but I just stopped stressing and accepted it.

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