We usually lose 50-100 hair strands each day from our scalps as part of our normal hair cycle. You may be losing even more, depending on your brushing and washing routine. Hair shedding like this is part of the natural process, and you can expect the hair to regrow quite fast. Unfortunately, this is not the case with telogen effluvium; people with this condition find that the strands lost each day are not replaced.
What Is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is the name for a condition that causes excessive shedding of hair from the scalp due to some shock to the system. Another term for telogen hair is club hair, as it takes the shape of a root. This condition is not to be confused with anagen effluvium. The latter is shedding due to the interruption of anagen hair growth by inflammation, drugs or toxins.
What Causes Telogen Effluvium?
In a healthy scalp, 85% of hair is actively growing (anagen) while 15% is the resting hair. Hair grows vigorously for about four years and then rests for around four months. New active hair then starts to grow and pushes the resting hair out. If there is a shock in the system, up to 70% of active hair can turn to telogen hair. The primary triggers for this shock include the following:
- Excessive exposure to sunshine
- A skin condition such as erythroderma that affects the scalp
- Discontinuation of a contraceptive pill
- Endocrine system disorders like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
- Certain medications
- Psychological stress
- Sudden weight loss, perhaps linked to nutritional deficiency or a chronic reduction in calorie intake
- Development of female pattern alopecia
- Chronic or acute illness, especially where fever is involved
- Postpartum hair loss which occurs up to six months after giving birth due to changes in hormonal levels
About 30% of all cases have no underlying issue.
What Are The Symptoms And What Does It Look Like?
The main symptom of the condition is the increase in the amount of hair that you shed. You may notice more than the usual amount of hair falling out when you brush. There may also be more hair on the pillow. Telogen effluvium does not present with any other conditions. However, there could be altered sensations on the scalp (trichodynia) accompanied by tenderness. In many cases, patients discover substantial changes in their hair within two to four months after the condition’s onset.
The condition does not cause complete baldness. However, it may uncover genetic tendencies to balding such as male and female pattern hair loss. Some people experience the thinning of their hair, especially if they have underlying hormonal problems. Telogen effluvium results in the loss of hair all over the scalp, which means that you may notice a lower volume of hair in addition to increased thinning.
Is the Condition Hereditary?
This condition is not hereditary. It affects people at random across all ages and genders. Those with the underlying trigger conditions mentioned above are likely to experience repeated episodes of telogen effluvium.
Is There A Cure For Telogen Effluvium?
In most cases, this condition resolves without treatment within a period of three to six months. You will notice this by hair regrowth, but it may take a while before you get back the hair volume you had at the start of the condition. Unfortunately, you may experience recurrence, particularly if there was an untreated underlying condition. Chronic telogen effluvium is when you experience persistent hair loss for more than six months.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Treatment of the condition generally deals with the underlying causes, so it could range from lifestyle changes to prescription medicine. The dermatologist may focus on your nutrition. They may check if you are getting enough zinc, vitamin D and iron. Dietary changes and custom meal plans may help alleviate nutrient deficiencies.
Dealing With Hormones
Where hormones are the main problem, your doctor will find ways to balance their levels. Balancing hormones may involve hormonal treatment or advice on lifestyle changes. Hair loss due to a change in family planning methods or medication may resolve if you complete a treatment course.
Chronic Hair Loss
If your condition is chronic, the doctor may change your drugs to improve rested hair growth. Counselling support to deal with anxiety is also an option if hair loss is a result of stress.
Common Hair Loss Tests
Before a doctor can start any treatment, they will perform specific tests to differentiate the condition from alopecia. They may begin by checking the diameter and length of the lost hair, proceeding to a hair pull test to see how much hair you are losing. The third test is a wash test, which involves inspecting the amount of hair loss in a typical hair wash. Finally, the doctor performs blood tests to determine the underlying causes of hair loss. The tests could check thyroid, iron deficiency or hormonal problems.
Seeking Professional Help For Hair Loss
The loss of hair which is in the resting phase of the hair cycle characterises telogen effluvium. Symptoms may include tenderness and varying sensations on the scalp. A typical case usually resolves on its own within six months except for chronic cases. Besides, there is no specific treatment for the condition. Instead, doctors look for the underlying cause of hair loss and treat that instead. Treatments may range from dietary advice to hormonal replacement therapy.
If you’re worried about your hair loss, feel free to contact us for advice. Vinci Hair Clinics have offices in a city near you, and we are here to help. Give us a call at Vinci Hair Clinic, or use the booking form to secure your free, no-obligation consultation today!