Our hair has a natural life cycle including growing and resting phases. So it’s very natural and normal to lose between 30 and 150 hair strands per day depending on your washing and brushing routines. Hair regrows automatically so that the total number of hairs on our head remains constant.
However, if you’re losing handfuls of hair, you may have telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is excessive hair loss that occurs a few months after a stressful or traumatic event. Telogen effluvium is actually the second most common form of hair loss after androgenic alopecia (pattern baldness).
What is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen effluvium occurs when there is a marked increase in hairs shed each day. An increased proportion of hairs shift from the growing phase (anagen) to the shedding phase (telogen). Normally only 10% of the scalp hair is in the telogen phase, but in telogen effluvium this increases to 30% or more. This usually happens suddenly and can occur approximately 3 months after a trigger.
Most cases of telogen effluvium are actually acute or short-term telogen effluvium, a condition in which a stressful event pushes more hairs than usual into the telogen or “resting” phase of the hair growth cycle. Examples of stressful events that can cause telogen effluvium include physical stress like childbirth, extreme sudden weight loss or a high fever, or emotional stress like a divorce or the death of a loved one. Around two months after the stressful event, up to 70% of hair may shed.
Chronic telogen effluvium is less common than acute telogen effluvium, and is caused by persistent stress like chronic illness or an untreated vitamin deficiency. For regrowth to occur, the hair loss-inducing stress must first be resolved.
Telogen effluvium is not inherited, but it can affect all age groups and both genders equally.
Telogen Effluvium Symptoms
The main symptom of telogen effluvium is thinning hair on the scalp, although it can present itself in a variety of ways. Hair loss can be diffuse or concentrated in particular areas. However, telogen effluvium most often causes thinning at the top of the scalp. Thus, a widening parting is one of the major telogen effluvium symptoms.
People with telogen effluvium generally do not lose all their hair, but the hair loss can be noticeable in more severe cases. Telogen effluvium also usually does not present as a receding hairline. But it has been known to cause hair loss on other parts of the body like the eyelashes and eyebrows.
Telogen Effluvium Treatments
If you suspect you have telogen effluvium symptoms, start by visiting your doctor. Your doctor can examine your scalp and perform tests to rule out other causes of hair loss, such as an iron deficiency or pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
The good news is that unless there are other factors at play, acute telogen effluvium usually clears up on its own. Once the stressful event is over, hair loss starts to decrease at about six months, and hair usually regains its normal thickness after about a year.
Tips for Telogen Effluvium Recovery
Low Level Laser Therapy
Using a Low Level Laser device will help to promote hair growth and extend your hair’s natural growth cycle. It uses safe, nourishing low level laser light energy to stimulate the hair follicles at a cellular level. Your hair will grow fuller, denser, longer and stronger!
Learn to Manage Stress
Since extreme stress can trigger telogen effluvium, it’s important to learn how to cope with stressors in your environment. Journaling, meditation, exercise, and getting plenty of sleep can help to reduce stress levels to recover from telogen effluvium or help prevent it in the first place.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a hair-healthy diet is also important for telogen effluvium recovery. Hair follicles require adequate biotin, zinc, iron, and vitamin C to grow thick, healthy hair. So eat a diet rich in lean proteins, fruits, and green leafy vegetables. Taking a supplement like HelpHair can also promote existing hair growth by providing follicles with the vitamins and minerals they require to grow thicker hair faster.