Learning About Telogen Effluvium

What is telogen Effluvium?

Telogen effluvium is a scalp disorder which presents by thinning and shedding hair.  This illness is considered the second most common cause of hair loss.  This is a reversible hair loss condition, usually prompted by stress, or a stressful experience.  This stress can alter the regular hair cycle causing this condition. The condition is named after the mechanism in which the hair loss occurs. That is, hair loss happens from the early entry of the hair into the telogen, or resting, phase of the hair follicle.  


What are the symptoms of telogen effluvium?

As mentioned, telogen effluvium causes symptoms like hair thinning and shedding from the scalp, eyebrows, and pubic area.  Hair may fall out in handfuls when washing or combing your hair, or there could be a more rapid loss of hair where almost half is lost.  Usually this condition only lasts for a short amount of time, so once the stress trigger has ended, hair starts to grow back until it reaches normal fullness.

For some, the stress trigger for telogen effluvium is not temporary.  If this stress is ongoing, the hair loss can last for much longer, and cause new hair growth to be much thinner than normal.  Occasionally hair enters into shortened growth cycles, which leads to much shorter and thinner hair.  Figuring out the cause of telogen effluvium, can help you treat the condition and restore the normal growth of hair.

What causes telogen effluvium?

There are many causes of this hair loss disorder, but most are related to some type of physical, emotional, or psychological stress.  These stresses include some of the following:

·         High fever

·         Childbirth

·         Chronic illness

·         Major surgery

·         Anemia

·         Severe emotional disorders

·         Crash diets

·         Hypothyroidism

·         Recreational drugs

·         Medications

How do you test for telogen effluvium?

There are several diagnostic tests which doctors use to test for telogen effluvium.  Usually a doctor can tell by evaluating the appearance of the hair and scalp, but futher testing needs to be done to confirm the proposed diagnosis. The three main diagnostic tests are the trichogram, trichoscopy and biopsy of the scalp.  A doctor can also perform a microscopic examination of the hair follicles after they have been plucked.  

How do you treat telogen effluvium?

Most short term cases of, for example those caused by a spike in fever or childbirth, go away on their own.  For chronic cases of telogen effluvium, which might be caused by things like an eating disorder, vitamin deficiency or chronic stress, once the cause is treated the hair loss goes away.  Lifestyle chances in these cases can be crucial to treatment.

How to prevent telogen effluvium:

·         Avoid wearing your hair in cornrows, hair weaves, braids, or pigtails, or any hairstyle which pulls on the hair follicle

·         Eat fruits and vegetables which are high in both antioxidants and flavonoids, to protect hair follicles and promote hair growth

·         Shampoos and conditioners with biotin and silica, nourish the hair and scalp to protect against hair loss

·         Taking vitamin supplements may be appropriate for those who have vitamin deficiencies