Telogen effluvium (TE) is a common form of hair loss that can be distressing and confusing. If you're experiencing sudden, rapidly progressing hair loss and aren't sure what's causing it, you're not alone. In this post, we'll explore TE's symptoms, causes, and treatment options and offer tips for managing and coping with hair loss.
What is telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that involves the rapid shedding of hair over a short period. It typically happens a few months after your body goes through something physically or emotionally stressful. It can also result from sudden hormonal changes. Hair loss due to telogen effluvium is usually temporary, and your hair often grows back without treatment once you no longer have that stress.
Telogen effluvium occurs when there is a change in the number of hair follicles that are actively growing hair. It is normal to shed 80-100 hairs per day. When a large number of hair follicles switch from their growth phase to the resting phase, it can result in massive hair shedding of 150 or even 200 hairs per day. TE is the second most common form of hair loss diagnosed by dermatologists.
What are the symptoms of telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium usually appears as a thinning of hair on the scalp. This thinning may be limited to one area or appear all over, typically affecting the scalp's top. Rarely will TE cause your hairline to recede or result in complete hair loss. However, in some severe cases, TE can cause hair in other areas to fall out, such as the eyebrows and pubic region.
Symptoms of telogen effluvium include:
- Increased hair loss, which you may notice in your hairbrush, in your shower drain, or on your pillow
- Thinning hair on your scalp
- Dry hairs fall out easily
What are the most common causes of telogen effluvium (TE)?
A variety of factors can trigger telogen effluvium. Environmental changes, such as exposure to toxins or physical trauma, like a car crash or surgery, can cause a shock to the system and put the hair follicles resting. Similarly, changes in hormone levels, such as during pregnancy, can also trigger TE. Certain medications, such as antidepressants and oral contraceptives, may also cause hair loss as a side effect. And while a healthy diet is essential for overall health and hair growth, crash dieting or deficiencies in certain vitamins and nutrients, like iron, zinc, and vitamins B-6 and B-12, may also contribute to TE.
Several factors can trigger telogen effluvium, including:
- High fever and severe infections
- Psychological stress
- Major surgery
- Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland)
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland)
- Discontinuing birth control pills
- Crash diets that do not provide enough protein
- Certain medications, such as oral retinoids (such as Accutane), beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, depression medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
What is the best treatment for telogen effluvium?
First and foremost, it's essential to identify the underlying cause. For example, if your hair loss results from a medication you're taking, you may need to switch to a different medication with fewer side effects. If you're experiencing a hormone imbalance, your healthcare provider may recommend hormone therapy to help restore balance. If your hair loss is related to diet or nutrition, it may be helpful to work with a dietician to develop a healthy eating plan that includes all of the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs.
In addition to addressing the underlying cause, various treatment options are also available for TE:
Improving diet and nutrition: A healthy diet is essential for your health and hair growth.
Being gentle with your hair care: If you have TE, it's essential to be gentle when styling your hair. Avoid blow-drying your hair on high heat and avoid harsh styling techniques, such as tight ponytails or braids. Instead, opt for styles that are gentle on the hair, such as loose buns or braids.
Trying over-the-counter (OTC) products: These may include shampoos, conditioners, and topical treatments that contain ingredients like biotin, zinc, or caffeine, which are thought to stimulate hair growth. While these products may not work for you, they can be worth a try if you're looking for a relatively low-risk option.
Prescription medications: If OTC products aren't effective or your hair loss is more severe, your healthcare provider may recommend a prescription medication. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a commonly prescribed medication for hair loss and is available in both foam and liquid form. It's applied directly to the scalp and is thought to stimulate hair growth.
How long does telogen effluvium last?
Telogen effluvium usually resolves completely without any treatment over several months. The average duration of telogen is approximately 100 days (3 to 6 months), after which the hair starts growing again.
Will my hair grow back after telogen effluvium?
Yes, your hair will grow back after telogen effluvium. After the 3 to 6 month shedding period, you'll notice new hair growth in your affected areas.
What are the other causes of hair loss?
It's worth noting that while TE and other forms of hair loss can be treated, it's not always possible to restore hair to its previous state. In some cases, the hair may grow back thinner or with a different texture than before. This can be especially true for those with certain underlying medical conditions or those who have undergone certain medical treatments. However, there are still ways to manage hair loss and improve the appearance of thinning hair.
One option is to try out hairstyles and products that help to add volume and texture to the hair. This can include using volumizing shampoos and conditioners, applying root lifters or volumizing mousses, and styling the hair with loose curls or waves. It may also be helpful to try out different hairstyles with your hair's natural texture and volume rather than trying to force it into a style that may not be as flattering.
Managing and Coping with Hair Loss
Hair loss can be a sensitive and emotional topic, and it's essential to take time to process and cope with it. It can be helpful to surround yourself with supportive friends and family and to seek out resources and support from a therapist or counselor, if needed. Remember, you are not alone, and many resources are available to help you manage hair loss and improve the appearance of thinning hair.
- Telogen effluvium (TE) is a type of hair loss that occurs when there is a decrease in the number of active hair follicles.
- TE is characterized by hair thinning and can be caused by physical or emotional stress, hormonal changes, certain medications, and poor diet or nutrition.
- TE is usually temporary, and hair will grow back once the underlying cause has been addressed.
- Treatment options include improving diet and nutrition, being gentle with hair care, trying over-the-counter hair loss products, and seeking medical treatment if necessary.
- It is important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the cause of the hair loss and the best course of treatment.
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