Telogen Effluvium: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Telogen Effluvium Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
Telogen Effluvium Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Telogen Effluvium is commonly referred as Temporary hair loss. It is probably the second most common form of hair loss. Effluvium means the ‘outflow’.

It happens when there is a change in the number of hair follicles growing hair. If the number of hair follicles producing hair drops significantly for any reason, there will be a significant increase in dormant, telogen stage hair follicles. The result of this is shedding, or TE hair loss.

Telogen Effluvium is most misunderstood yet a common form of hair loss. Very little research has been done on the subject. To understand it completely, here we shall first discuss growth stages of your hairs.

Understanding Hairs Growth Cycles

Let’s take a closer look at your hairs follicles growth cycle. This is the aspect of your biology that is greatly affected by Telogen Effluvium. Firstly it’s important to know that the hair growth cycle has three phases.

Telogen Effluvium-Hair Growth Cycles
Telogen Effluvium-Hair Growth Cycles

 Antigen Phase

This is the growth phase during this phase your hair will look healthy and full as well as nourished.  Given that it is growing at a rate of around half an inch per month.  Under normal circumstances this phase lasts anywhere between two to eight years.  Roughly 85% to 90% of your scalps 100,000 hair follicles will be in the antigen phase at any one tim.

 Catagen Phase

This is the transitional phase.  This phase only lasts for around two to four weeks under normal circumstances.  It is an extremely important step in new hair growth. During this time your hair will actually shrink in size and it will disconnect from the blood supply.  At this point a new hair follicle will begin to grow from under your scalp.  Approximately 5% of hair follicles are in the katadyn phase at any one time.

 Telogen Phase

This is the resting phase. New hair growth happens at this point, as the follicles are simply waiting to emerge from the scale. During this phase your hair follicle is at its weakest and it can easily be pulled out of your scalp.  This phase will typically last for about three months and will end when your existing hair follicles fall out and make way for a new one.  

How Telogen Effluvium affects your hairs?

Now that we’ve gone over the various hair growth phases let’s discuss how Telogen Effluvium affects.  It sufferers rate of new hair growth and can lead to shedding.  Telogen Effluvium indicates that there is an outflow of hair that is in the Telogen phase.  Think of it as your locs getting so tired from the stresses that they suddenly have to deal with that they simply choose to die and fall out.  

Telogen Effluvium hair loss Symptoms
Telogen Effluvium Hair loss Symptoms

Defining Telogen Effluvium

In essence, Telogen Effluvium happens when there is a change in the number of hair follicles. There are approximately a hundred thousand hair follicles in your scalp and ten percent of those follicles are in the Telogen phase.  1% of those hairs are in the last days of its face therefore it is perfectly normal to shed between fifty to hundred hairs a day.

You may not even notice these hairs as they come out throughout the day. However in cases that involve Telogen Effluvium, a significant percentage of your hair follicles in the antigen phase suddenly switch to the Telogen phase.

This situation might involve more than 50% of the growing hair follicles.  So after anywhere from a few months to six months when the Telogen hairs reach the end of their face, you will suddenly notice a large portion of your hair falling out without warning. So if you have telogen effluvium, you may lose an average of 300 hairs a day instead of 100.

Causes of Telogen Effluvium

A number of stresses can bring this about such as a severe shock to the body or extreme trauma a car wreck breakup death of a loved one extreme dieting and even certain medications.  Essentially any type of shock to the body can bring on an onset of Telogen Effluvium.

The most common causes of Telogen Effluvium are found to be Stress and Poor diet. However we have listed the commonly observed causes of telogen effluvium below:

  • Severe stress: Mental stress for long periods can result in telogen effluvium. It may take about 3 months to occur after the stress trigger event happens.
  • Poor diet: A lack of nutrients essential for hairs (protein, iron, B-vitamins, and zinc)  may cause temporary loss of hair (telogen effluvium).
  • Sudden weight loss: Sudden weight loss due to any reason or severe calorie restriction may cause the hair to shed significantly.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth: Hormonal changes occurring with in 3 to 9 months after birth can cause hair to shed.
  • Certain drugs: Some drugs may also induce TE, especially antidepressants and recreational drugs.
  • Metal toxicity: Constant contact with toxic chemicals like lead etc. for long periods  can lead to hair loss.

Diagnosis of Telogen Effluvium

The main problem with diagnosis of Telogen Effluvium is that it is still a poorly defined condition. As mentioned before very little research has been done on the subject hence all of the confusion that surrounds it. One of our affiliate had to go to seven dermatologists before anyone could diagnose him correctly and that’s because he brought it up and practically self-diagnosed himself. It might seem unbelievable that even in this day and age when medical breakthroughs are happening every day that dermatologists are still quite uneducated about something as simple as hair health conditions.

Telogen Effluvium Diagnosis can be tricky
Telogen Effluvium Diagnosis can be tricky

Currently, several tests are in practice to diagnose telogen effluvium:

  • The diameter and length of the lost hairs can signal this condition, and may help a doctor diagnose it.
  • A hair pull test may be carried out to see how much hair is being shed in a day or so.
  • A wash test can be performed whereby the number of hairs lost during washing is counted and observed
  • A blood test may be useful to work out the cause of hair loss. These tests can help diagnose iron deficiency or other nutrition deficiencies.

So basically, an doctor will examine the hairs that have fallen out and decide on the basis of above tests to diagnose it as Telogen Effluvium or not.

Symptoms of Telogen Effluvium

The main symptom associated with telogen effluvium is an increase in the amount of hair a person sheds. Someone may notice that more hair than usual is falling out when they wash or brush their hair. They may also find more hair in the drain or on their pillow.

Telogen Effluvium appears as a diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp, which may or may not be all over. Some areas of the scalp cane be affected more than others. Normally the hair on top of the scalp thins more than it does at the sides and back of the scalp.

Chronic Telogen Effluvium

Chronic telogen effluvium is not uncommon. It affects the entire scalp with no apparent cause of hair loss. It usually affects women of 30 to 60 years of age. Chronic Telogen Effluvium hair loss starts suddenly and can fluctuate over years. It often occurs in women who previously had very thick hair in their teens or twenties. The degree of hairs shedding is usually very severe in the early stages and the hair may come out in handfuls. However, it does not cause complete baldness and does appear to be diminished in the long run.

Chronic Telogen Effluvium- Severe Hair loss
Chronic Telogen Effluvium- Severe Hair loss

When to seek Professional Help

You should see your doctor if you experience excessive hair loss. If you are observing obvious thinning patches on your scalp, you must consult your doctor and discuss your condition.

Prevention of Telogen Effluvium

Maintaining proper diet which ensures the essential nutrients needed for hairs growth can prevent telogen effluvium that is ought to be caused by lack of diet. Similarly, adopting a stress free lifestyle will prevent any stress related Telogen effluvium disorders. Avoiding causes of TE disorders as listed above can be of great help to prevent it.

Balanced Diet for Telogen Effluvium
Balanced Diet for Telogen Effluvium

Treatment for Telogen Effluvium hair loss

Treatment for telogen effluvium is basically related to what is triggering the hair loss. Once the trigger for telogen effluvium has been established and addressed, the hair cycle should normalize. Hairs  shall begin to grow back as in the normal process.

Treatment options for Telogen effluvium include:

  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies through diet. Introducing Protein rich foods, Iron rich foods and taking supplements for short term solution comes under this category.
  • Counseling or psychological support to manage stress or anxiety causing TE.
  • Non-surgical hair replacement
  • Hormone replacement therapy: It is for people experiencing menopause which is causing Telogen Effluvium disorders.
Manage Stress to treat Telogen Effluvium
Manage Stress to treat Telogen Effluvium

Most Commonly Asked Question about Telogen Effluvium

Am I going to go bald due to Telogen effluvium?

No. It does not cause complete baldness and does appear to be self-limiting in the long run.

Is it age specific hair loss disease?

No. It is not age specific. It can even happen in Childs. However, women, in age between 30-60 years, are more likely to have it.

What is expected Duration of Telogen Effluvium hair loss?

It lasts approximately 6 months. However, in case of chronic TE, it can prolong to years.

Personal Insights from Experience of Telogen Effluvium

It can be a rather traumatic occurrence mainly because the person afflicted will find themselves losing handfuls of hair all at once. Here is a video giving insights from personal experience of Telogen Effluvium and how it affects your mind and how do you feel about yourself. It also details a personal recovery story from Telogen Effluvium hair loss.

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Also Read: Male Pattern Baldness: Causes and Treatment