Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss. It is commonly associated with hair loss in a female but actually the diagnosis can affect males too. In most cases the condition self-resolves. However, it can be concerning to lose so much hair quickly. This blog helps to explain what Telogen Effluvium is and what treatments are available to you.
What does “Telogen Effluvium” mean?
Your hair goes through different stages of growth. Telogen effluvium is caused by a disturbance in the normal hair lifecycle. Hair initially grows from the hair root (anagen phase, lasting 2-6 years), then it stops growing and rests (catagen phase, lasting 2-3 weeks). Eventually this resting hair shortens and falls out (telogen phase, lasting 3 months). In the scalp 85% of your hairs are in the active growth phase (anagen) and about 15% of your hairs are being shed (telogen phase).
Telogen– this is the shedding phase of a hair follicle and it comes after two other phases (Anagen- growth phase, Catagen- end of growth phase)
Effluvium- the active shedding of hair
So in a nutshell, telogen effluvium, means you are suffering from hair loss and you are primarily shedding hair that is at the end of its lifecycle. If more of your hair switches into the telogen phase you will notice more hair being shed than is actually grown (less anagen hairs and more telogen hairs). This imbalance and hair loss is called telogen effluvium.
What does telogen effluvium look like?
Telogen effluvium causes hair loss and thinning all over the scalp and differs from Female Pattern Hair Loss where hair is only lost on the top of the scalp. There are two main types of Telogen Effluvium- Acute Telogen Effluvium and Chronic Telogen Effluvium.
Acute- lasting for a short period of time (up to 6 months)
Chronic– lasting for more than 6 months
Acute Telogen Effluvium
In Acute Telogen Effluvium, you will notice you lose hair all over your head. A particularly sudden stressful event normally triggers acute telogen effluvium and it causes more of your hairs to switch from a growing (anagen) phase to a resting (telogen) phase. These hairs will remain in this phase for 3 months and will eventually shed. The process usually resolves after 6 months and you should recover well.
Many different triggers have been found and you may realise you have experienced the following events that are now triggering your hair loss:
- Going through a severe illness
- Giving birth or going through an abortion
- Psychological stress (e.g. death of a loved one)
- Drastic changes in diet
- Large blood loss
- Surgical operation including hair transplant surgery
- Traumatic accident (e.g. car crash)
- Medications like Birth Control Pills
Chronic Telogen Effluvium
Although in most cases acute telogen effluvium self resolves after the initial stress event has passed, in some cases hair loss can persist past 6 months. This is called Chronic Telogen Effluvium- a condition where hair thinning and loss continues after 6 months.
How Do You Know If You Are Suffering From Telogen Effluvium?
If you are worried about a diagnosis of telogen effluvium then you should seek immediate advice from a hair loss specialist. If you wanted to book a consultation with the hair loss doctors at The Treatment Rooms London, then please click (here).
For both diagnoses it is important you are seen in person so you hair loss can be examined in detail. In most cases of acute telogen effluvium you should notice your hair grows back as the hair loss is temporary.
For those who may be suffering from chronic telogen effluvium it is important to exclude any common long term causes of hair thinning and hair loss such as:
- Iron deficiency
- Zinc deficiency
- Thyroid disease
- Kidney or Liver disease
- Stomach or pancreatic disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Long term viral infections
- Medications that can cause hair loss
In some cases of chronic telogen effluvium there are no specific triggers and this is called primary chronic telogen effluvium whereby there is diffuse (all over the scalp) hair loss. Mostly women are affected by telogen effluvium (both acute and chronic) as they go through childbirth and can often have iron deficiency.
Can You Treat Telogen Effluvium?
In most cases of acute telogen effluvium you will notice your hair starts to grow back after 3-6 months. However, you can take the licensed medication, Minoxidil, to help treat your hair loss.
In chronic telogen effluvium, you will first need to exclude other causes of hair loss before undergoing treatment. If you are found to have primary chronic telogen effluvium (no specific trigger) then you may notice you benefit from Minoxidil too.
Unlicensed treatments for Telogen Effluvium include PRP injections to help stimulate hair growth and increase hair thickness.