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Losing Hair Like Crazy? It Might Be Telogen Effluvium (But Don’t Panic!)

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Hair loss is a common concern affecting millions of people worldwide, with various underlying causes.

Telogen effluvium is one such condition characterised by excessive shedding of hair.

While it might not always be a cause for alarm, understanding its causes, symptoms, and management can help people navigate this temporary yet distressing phase, discover more in this article.

Understanding Telogen Effluvium: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Causes of Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss characterised by a diffuse shedding of hair from the scalp. Unlike some other forms of hair loss, telogen effluvium is often temporary.

It occurs when a larger than usual number of hair follicles enter the telogen (resting) phase of the hair growth cycle simultaneously. This can result in noticeable thinning of the hair on the scalp.

Physical or Emotional Stress: One of the most common triggers for telogen effluvium is physical or emotional stress. This can include major life events such as childbirth, surgery, severe illness, or significant emotional stressors.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, particularly iron, protein, and certain vitamins and minerals, can contribute to telogen effluvium.

Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations due to pregnancy, menopause, thyroid disorders, or hormonal contraceptives can also lead to this condition.

Medications: Certain medications, including some antidepressants, retinoids, beta-blockers, and anticoagulants, may cause telogen effluvium as a side effect.

Medical Conditions: Chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases, hormonal imbalances, and chronic infections can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle, leading to excessive shedding.

Symptoms of Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that usually occurs when the body experiences significant stress.

This stress can come in many forms, such as physical or emotional trauma, surgery, illness, hormonal changes, or nutritional deficiencies.

The condition is characterised by a sudden shedding of hair from the scalp, which can be alarming for those experiencing it.

The most common symptom of telogen effluvium is hair loss.This hair loss is often most noticeable when washing or brushing the hair.

The hair may appear thinner, and more hair may be on the pillow or in the shower drain than usual.

In most cases, telogen effluvium is temporary, and the hair will grow back within six to twelve months.

However, the hair loss may be more severe and prolonged in some cases.

Other symptoms of telogen effluvium may include itchiness, a burning sensation on the scalp, and a feeling of tightness or discomfort.

Some people may also experience a change in the texture or quality of their hair, such as dryness, brittleness, or a lack of lustre.

These symptoms are usually temporary and will resolve once the condition’s underlying cause has been addressed.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing telogen effluvium typically involves a thorough medical history, physical examination, and sometimes blood tests to identify underlying causes such as nutritional deficiencies or hormonal imbalances.

In some cases, a scalp biopsy may be performed to rule out other conditions.

Treatment of telogen effluvium often involves addressing the underlying cause. This may include:

Managing Stress: Strategies for managing stress, such as relaxation techniques, counselling, or lifestyle modifications, may help reduce hair shedding in cases where stress is a contributing factor.

Nutritional Supplements: If nutritional deficiencies are identified, supplementation with iron, protein, vitamins, or minerals may be recommended to support healthy hair growth.

Medication Adjustment: In cases where medications are causing telogen effluvium, a healthcare provider may adjust the dosage or switch to alternative medications with fewer side effects.

Topical Treatments: Some people may benefit from topical treatments such as minoxidil, which can help promote hair regrowth.

Hormonal Management: For cases related to hormonal imbalances, hormone therapy or other hormonal management strategies may be prescribed.

Prevention

While telogen effluvium may not always be preventable, there are some measures that people can take to reduce their risk of developing this condition. These include:

Maintaining a Balanced Diet: Ensuring adequate intake of essential nutrients such as iron, protein, and vitamins can help support healthy hair growth and prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Managing Stress: Strategies for managing stress, such as regular exercise, meditation, or counselling, may help reduce the risk of developing telogen effluvium.

Avoiding Harsh Hair Treatments: Avoiding hairstyles or treatments that pull or stress the hair, such as tight braids or hot oil treatments, can help minimise damage to the hair follicles and reduce the risk of hair loss.

Regular Hair Care: Regular washing, conditioning, and styling of the hair can help maintain healthy hair and prevent damage to the scalp and hair follicles.

Outlook for Telogen Effluvium

The outlook for telogen effluvium is generally favourable, as it is often temporary and resolves once the underlying trigger is addressed.

However, it may take several months for hair shedding to return to normal and for regrowth to become noticeable.

In some cases, hair may regrow differently in texture or colour than before.

Coping Strategies

Dealing with hair loss can be emotionally challenging for many people. Here are some coping strategies:

Seek Support: Talk to friends, family, or a mental health professional about your feelings and concerns regarding hair loss.

Focus on Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies you enjoy.

Be Gentle with Your Hair: Avoid hairstyles or treatments that pull or stress the hair, and use gentle hair care products to minimise further damage.

Consider Camouflage Techniques: Experiment with hairstyles, hairpieces, or hair fibres to camouflage thinning areas if desired.

Stay Informed: Educate yourself about telogen effluvium and its management to feel more empowered and in control of your situation.

Round-up of Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a common yet distressing condition characterised by excessive shedding of hair from the scalp.

While it can be triggered by various factors such as stress, nutritional deficiencies, medications, or underlying medical conditions, the outlook is generally favourable with appropriate management.

By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for telogen effluvium, people can take proactive steps to address this temporary phase of hair loss and promote healthy hair regrowth.

Disclaimer: Remember, seeking support from healthcare professionals and loved ones can make coping with telogen effluvium less daunting.

Questions and Answers

How do I know if my hair loss is telogen effluvium?

To diagnose telogen effluvium, doctors typically examine the scalp for signs of hair loss and conduct a “pull test.”

Blood tests are also performed to rule out other potential causes such as hormone imbalances or vitamin deficiencies.

While a scalp biopsy can confirm the diagnosis, it’s usually unnecessary for most people.

How long does telogen effluvium usually last?

Telogen effluvium typically varies in duration, whether acute or chronic.

Acute cases usually last for six to twelve months, with hair loss occurring around two to three months after a significant stressor or bodily change.

Fortunately, in about 95% of cases, acute telogen effluvium resolves on its own. On the other hand, chronic telogen effluvium persists for longer than six months.

Does hair grow back thicker after telogen effluvium?

After going through telogen effluvium, your hair may feel thinner due to increased shedding.

Although new hair grows to replace the lost ones, it takes several months for this new growth to contribute significantly to the thickness of your hair.