Acute pancreatitis & hair loss

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My 14 year old daughter suffered from a sudden & severe bout of acute pancreatitis in January this year. She was in the children’s hospital Alder Hey for several weeks - she struggled to get over the pancreatitis due to complications of fluid collections (very large pseudocyst)& CPR markers, nausea & vomiting & very poor appetite. 4 weeks after the first bout she was well enough to have the operation to remove her gallbladder as it was gallstone obstruction which had caused the pancreatitis. She recovered well from this. Beforehand she was a fit and healthy teenager, a competitive swimmer & hockey player - very active. She has now returned to school & light activity & during her check up with the consultant last week, he thought she was doing very well. 

I have recently noticed though that her long hair is falling out. Since about 2 weeks now - about 8 weeks after the onset of pancreatitis. Her skin is also dry and flakey & her immunity is low. She’s very pale. 

She is very worried about the hair loss as you can imagine a 14 year old girl would be! Consultant was no help - ask the GP was his advice! Has anybody else suffered from this? Could anybody recommend any nutritional supplement or any other natural help with getting her back to full health? Consultant said it will take another 6-8 weeks before she’s “normal”again (who knows what normal is???).

any help would be much appreciated.


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  • Posted

    I’m sorry such a young child has to go through this.  I had an attack of acute necrotizing pancreatitis in Oct 2017 while on vacation in NY.  I spent 3.5 weeks in ICU then was medically flown to MUSC in SC.  They are a pancreatic institute. 

    I lost 40+ lbs which put me in malnutrition.  The first thing to go was my hair.  I had to had very long thick healthy hair.  I lost over half my hair.  It’s now April and the hair loss is minimal.  I was terrified as well.  My hair now is paper line.  I could not take anything until Jan  due to the severity of my necrosis .  Once I was able to take supplements I was put on a one a day, Vitamin D and a hair and nail supplement (Biotin).  That helps the hair loss.  Tell her to brush or comb as little as possible along with washing.   Tell her not to run her fingers through her hair.  Touch it as little as possible.  I cut

    Mine off to save it.  The longer it is the pulling as brushing just pulls it out worse.  Maybe since hers just started if she gets on supplements now it will slow it down.  I talked to many people about my hair loss.  Don’t waste your money on shampoos etc for hair loss.  The problem is inside.  As I was told until your insides are healthy (vitamins etc) no shampoo will help. Your hair grows from the inside. 

    Once she starts getting her inner body right the hair loss will stop. 

    I’m here for any questions.  All experiences are different but just recently going through acute I hope I can be of a little help. 

    My thoughts and prayers go out for your daughter. 

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  • Posted

    Thank you so much for your kind words. It is reassuring to know that others are going through the same after effects of pancreatitis. My daughters hair too looks in really poor condition - wiry & brittle.

    We were in NY too on vacation from the UK just before it happened - about a week before. I am so thankful that it didn’t happen during our stay there.

    She has loads of very long thick brown hair so yes it is tempting to pull through it with a brush to get tangles out - I will get her to put loads of in hair conditioners on it & to try not to over brush it. I will get it straightened off with a good hair cut next week too when we are at home again. I wil, prepare her for the worst too. I have bee getting her to take a daily multi vit but I may need something more focused.

    she lost 6 kilos - about 14 pounds so not as much but still enough when you are 14 - luckily she has an athletic frame due to her sport so she still looks well despite the loss of weight. I will look into the biotin too. Xx

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  • Posted

    I too used to have long thick hair. It started to fall out but I didn’t know why. It took the doctors over a year to diagnose my pancreas conditions. My pancreas specialist advised me my hair should start to grow back after starting the digestive enzymes but that didn’t work. I have a congenital abnormality called Pancreas Divisium (born with two pancreatic ducts that never fused together) which caused the chronic pancreatitis. At first they thought it was my thyroid, I also have Hashimotos (autoimmune thyroid disease) but that was fine. I started taking a herbal supplement called HorseTail and I massage my scalp when watching tv which has seemed to get some growth. Also keep in mind the body needs fat (I was on a really low fat diet because I don’t have a gallbladder) but I wasn’t getting enough fat because my pancreas couldn’t digest it (the enzymes are helping with this). Each person is different but no doctor should ignore your daughter’s symptoms. The flaky skin is semi normal with pancreas issues. I’ve been dealing with it for almost two years now. She needs to stay really hydrated which isn’t easy because we tend to feel nauseous all the time. I hope she feels better soon.  
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  • Posted

    Hi niawag, I did a bit of reading and was surprised to discover there are many anecdotal reports (from patients not medical studies) regarding hair loss after gallbladder issues and surgery.  

    The good news is that it appears to right itself in the majority of cases within months. 

    I didn't put my research hat on so didn't delve for medical explanations although no medical studies on the subject popped up.

    I'm assuming your daughter has had her bloods tested for any deficiencies since the pancreatitis as the very nature of attacks can (not always) result in certain vitamin deficiencies.  If not ask for a test.  

    Stress can exacerbate the problem so whilst it's difficult to calm a young teen with image shattering issues, try to instill a wait and see message.

    I assume your daughter had an Acute Pancreatitis attack (not chronic) which means it may not happen again however once one has poked that bear it can reoccur. 

    Introducing a low fat diet may help prevent it.  If she does have another attack it's best not to eat for a couple of days, stay hydrated, no alcohol or cigarettes (I know she's too young currently).  As well it's best to eat several small meals a day rather than 3 large meals a day.  This info is just in case, it may never happen.  Good luck.


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