Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium  – Causes, Types, and Treatments

A look at the causes and the only proven treatments for Telogen effluvium, a condition characterized by sudden diffuse hair loss. If you or a loved one is suffering from Telogen Effluvium, it is important that you educate yourself on the condition. We have all the important information here.  A condition resulting in general thinning of the hair over a period of months. Often called “shedding”, it is most commonly experienced by those who have just given birth, or are undergoing Chemotherapy.

Understanding the Hair Cycle

Telogen Effluvium, by nature, is a condition directly related to the cycles of hair growth everyone experiences. External conditions result in a disruption of this normal cycle. In order to understand the nature of Telogen Effluvium, and what makes it different from other forms of hair loss, you should have a general understanding of how hair cycles.

Under normal conditions, follicles will always continue to produce hair. Of the 100,000 to 150,000 follicles on the scalp, 95% of them are in an active growth phase called Anagen, which lasts approximately 2.5 years. The remainder have completed their growth phase, and are “at rest”. This phase is called Telogen, and these hairs typically remain in the scalp for about three months before they are shed. Hairs are typically shed during shampooing, combing or brushing, at a rate of about 50 to 80 per day. If the hair is shampooed only once a week, several hundred hairs may be lost simultaneously, representing the accumulated Telogen hairs over several days.

Hair cycles in periods of growth (anagen), cessation of growth (catagen), and resting/loss (Telogen) phases. It is Telogen hairs that we see in the environment on a regular basis. If a significant number of hair follicles simultaneously enter into resting phase (Telogen), the clinical result is likely to be Telogen Effluvium. In other conditions such as Androgenetic Alopecia in Men and Women, you see an increase in the number of hairs in Telogen over a period of years, instead of months.

Telogen effluvium is the shedding of hairs that have been prematurely pushed from the anagen (growth) phase into the Telogen (resting) phase. Anagen hairs are firmly attached at the roots whereas Telogen hairs are loosely attached and hence fall off easily. This sudden abnormal change in hair growth dynamics is temporary and may be precipitated by illness, childbirth, drugs, stress and crash dieting. Telogen effluvium is totally reversible and management is expectant until the next androgen growth phase becomes reestablished.

Diagnosing Telogen Effluvium

The meaning of the phrase Telogen (The resting/shedding phase of the hair cycle) Effluvium (meaning a exhalation or emanation) is indicative of its nature. The causes of this condition, as mentioned above, are typically some form of extreme trauma to the system. One should see a qualified dermatologist to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Since Telogen Effluvium is a term that can be coined for many types of hair loss, to label ones-self as having “Telogen effluvium” can be a rather vague statement. Indeed, many hair loss conditions result in an increase in Telogen hairs, and it can be logically stated that each of these people is experiencing Telogen effluvium. Some men on Propecia or Rogaine report a period during the first three months where they lose more hair, at a more rapid rate than normal. These men are experiencing Telogen Effluvium.

Determining whether you have TE is therefore more an exercise of reviewing the type of loss you have (TE sufferers see a rapid diffuse thinning throughout the scalp), reviewing events of the past 5 months of your life (TE sufferers typically have had some sort of traumatic event occur), and having the bloodwork done by a physician to rule out other conditions which might be occurring – such as Androgenetic Alopecia. These other conditions can many times cause TE, and are a result of an abnormality in the hormonal levels or other easily rectifiable issues.

It is important that you educate yourself on the various forms of Alopecia as stated on this site, and that you see a qualified dermatologist to help effectively diagnose your condition.

Causes of Telogen Effluvium

As mentioned previously, TE is typically caused by a traumatic event which occurred several months prior, in the system of the person experiencing it. The most common causes are Childbirth, Chemotherapy, Severe Infection, Severe Chronic Illness, Severe Psychological Stress, Major Surgery, Hypo or Hyperthyroidism, Crash Diets resulting in poor health or inadequate protein, and medications. It is these factors which cause a disruption in the normal hair cycle and result in a premature cessation of the Anagen (growth) phase. Hairs enter into Telogen, and within 2 to 5 months, the hair begins to fall.

During pregnancy, more hair follicles are maintained in the growth phase. After pregnancy, a greater proportion of these hairs go into the resting phase, causing a temporary, self-correcting increased shedding of the hair. The same phenomenon can be seen after stopping birth control pills. The flu or stress can also cause Telogen effluvium.

Treatments for Telogen Effluvium

Since TE is a result of a past traumatic event on the system, it typically reverses itself as that particular event no longer exists. It may take several months before the hair grows back in. Consequently, there are no treatments, per se, for TE. One can focus on products that have been proven to stimulate growth, such as Rogaine , Tricomin Therapy Spray, or Nizoral Shampoo, but if the cause of the condition is gone, these simply speed up the turnaround time for regrowth. This could be considered a “treatment”.

Ruling out Other causes: It is important that you rule out other potential causes of your rapid thinning. Whether you are a man or a woman, there are a handful of potential causes, and you should educate yourself on the various forms of Alopecia before assuming you’re experiencing TE.

HairlossTalk Recommendation: Please be advised that these treatments are only recommended after complete bloodwork has been done, and with the consent of your physician.

» For men and women, Tricomin Therapy Spray is recommended
» Rogaine for Women, and Rogaine 5% for men may also be helpful, however it is important to note that both of these treatments can cause a temporary shedding period of their own.

Please note that all treatments mentioned above must be continued regularly until hair growth occurs, and even after it occurs in order to maintain it.