Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a problem related to baldness. The hair falls off at an accelerated rate, faster than normal, which leads to it becoming thinner. However, this is usually just a temporary problem and the hair eventually recovers, unlike in other diseases of the scalp and hair.

The condition is not initially noticeable and it might take weeks or even months after it starts until the hair loss and thinning becomes visible. Not only the scalp hair is affected but the loss there is easiest to notice. However, it is possible in some cases to see that the body hair becomes thinner as well. The unusual rate of hair loss is usually the most obvious when using a comb, washing the hair or even touching it in any way. Once the root of the problem has been cured, the hair needs a long time of up to 8 months until the shedding rate returns to normal. It is crucial to monitor the hair because its loss might be caused by serious diseases or chronic conditions that require immediate medical attention.

If the lost hair is examined using a microscope, all of the roots are shaped like a club, which is typical for hair in the telogen phase, or the resting one. Typically, most of the hair in the telogen phase will fall off when washing and no more hairs will shed for a while, until more of them become loose.

Telogen effluvium doesn't usually require any kind of special treatment. It is normal for hair to fall off as part of its natural cycle, as the new hairs force out the old ones. As long as the cycle is not broken, hair loss also means hair regeneration. It is even possible to see this pattern in the mirror, on the forehead hairline. You can notice fine new hair emerging from the scalp after an old one has been pushed out.

However, in any case of telogen effluvium it is important to investigate if the cause is a more serious health problem. The root of hair loss is sometimes obvious but in some cases, like a lack of iron, only blood tests can reveal the problem. Sometimes it might be needed to stop certain medication, if it causes hair loss. However, in many situations the cause of the problem is temporary and goes away without any specific treatment. The most common such causes are a temporary disease or giving birth.

Recently, doctors have also identified the so-called chronic form of telogen effluvium, which is quite widespread. It mostly affects women and it is not easy to spot, since their crown remains visually intact. The hair on the entire scalp becomes thinner, with no clear cause, even if the women had very healthy hair in their youth. The condition normally begins without warning between the ages of 30 and 60. It varies in severity and the hair is affected in a cyclical fashion. Hair loss tends to be the worst at the onset of the condition. However, it later stabilizes without any treatment and it never evolves into total baldness.

What are the symptoms and causes of telogen effluvium?

This condition can have a lot of different causes, many of them are difficult to identify. Some of the most common are childbirth, aggressive medication, chronic diseases, serious infections, high fever, severe psychological stress, major surgery or illnesses, malfunction of the thyroid gland or even bad diets that don't supply enough proteins. Numerous types of medications can cause telogen effluvium, these include NSAIDS like ibuprofen, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants or retinoids.

The typical symptom for this condition is the unusual hair loss from the scalp. Often, the moment when you notice it is while shampooing or rinsing your hair. Unlike other similar conditions, the hair gets thinner on the entire scalp, without any bald areas. Both the scalp and the rest of the hair have a healthy appearance.

Who develops telogen effluvium?

Telogen effluvium only becomes obvious after some time and it normally starts one to 3 months after a shock or serious health issue. It often happens to women after they give birth but it can also start 1-3 months after a severe disease, surgery or an accident.

Why does telogen effluvium occur?

The normal pattern of hair loss and regrowth can be affected by a severe stress like an operation or childbirth. Every hair normally falls off after a life cycle of about three years but a strong shock can make these old hairs detach earlier than normal. The result is that a high number of hairs will shed at the same time. The hairs will abruptly stop growing but will only fall off after one to three months. Hair thinning is usually temporary, since new hairs will emerge from the follicles and replace the lost ones. In a few months, the normal hair density and appearance can be restored.

In some cases, the problem persists, which shows that the cause is more serious. Common causes are a lazy thyroid gland or a lack of iron. Doctors can order a blood test to verify such factors, especially if other related symptoms are present.

What is the treatment for telogen effluvium?

In most situations, the hair will regenerate by itself after a few months and no special treatment is required. If the problem is an inadequate supply of iron or zinc, special food supplements or a diet rich in these minerals can be a quick and easy cure.

Hair loss can also be caused by a lack of vitamin B12, folic acid as well as problems with the thyroid gland. Blood tests requested by your doctor are needed to detect these issues.

Usually, telogen effluvium is not severe but certain precautions can be helpful. These include a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, providing the body with enough proteins, vitamins and minerals. It is a good idea not to harm the hair by strong brushing or combing. Elma 11 Scalp and Hair Revitalizer is also recommended.