What is Telogen Effluvium
Telogen Effuvium (TE) is a form of stress related hair loss triggered by a disturbance to the hair cycle and characterized by hair thinning or an increase in hair shedding.
The hair cycle typically has three phases: Anagen (or Growth phase), Catagen (or Transitional phase) and Telogen (or Resting phase).
When a person is suffering from TE, a significant percentage of hair follicles that were in the Anagen growth phase, suddenly switch to the dormant Telogen phase.
Normally 5% to 10% of a person’s hair is in the resting phase at any given point in time, but after being triggered into the Telogen phase, 30% or more of hair follicles dramatically slow down their growth, resulting in shedding or visible thinning. This happens because stress has the power to not only create excessive inflammation around the hair follicles, weakening the immune system and drawing nutrients away, but also to alter the body’s hormonal makeup.
The physical reaction to this type of stress, is what is known as Telogen Effluvium.
What triggers Telogen Effluvium
A number of stresses can cause Telogen Effluvium, these include a severe shock to the body (for example a car accident, major surgery, or childbirth), extreme mental stress or trauma (the death of a loved one, relocation, or job loss), dietary changes, medical conditions, new medications, alcohol/drug abuse and even lack of sleep.
Causes vary greatly from person to person, but Telogen Effluvium triggers can easily be broken down in four distinct categories:
- Hormonal Changes
- Stressful trigger event
Symptoms of Telogen Effluvium
Telogen Effluvium is usually recognized by a thinning of the hair which may or may not occur evenly across the scalp. TE results in noticeable hair loss during showers or while hair brushing, and a “crawling” sensation under the scalp, has also been reported as a common symptom.
Shedding usually begins 90-120 days following a traumatic event.
Although it affects the entire scalp, the area that is usually more subjected to hair loss is the top, although the sides and the back of the scalp may also experience it.
When suffering from Telogen Effluvium, an individual will never undergo a full loss of all hairs of the scalp, as it normally just results in general thinning, however, in severe cases, the hair loss may be dramatic.
How Telogen Effluvium can be reversed
Whichever form Telogen Effluvium takes, whether it be more or less severe, it is fully treatable and reversible, as the hair follicles have not been irreparably damaged or changed in any way.
TE hair loss typically lasts 6-9 months and will usually recover completely on its own when the normal hair growth cycle resumes. A way of controlling and shortening the duration of TE is by addressing the original stress trigger.
Once this trigger has been established and addressed, the hair cycle should in fact normalize itself, allowing hair to grow back naturally.
Most individuals regain their normal scalp hair density within the year, however, if the trigger event lasts for an extended period of time, Telogen Effluvium may prolong itself.
Stressful situations and Telogen Effluvium
Other ways of controlling physical symptoms of stress is by providing your body with the right support it needs to fight off possible inflammations caused by stressful situations.
- dietary changes,
- proper nutritional supplementation (iron and protein deficiencies are, for example, often linked to Telogen Effluvium).
In situations where shedding has ceased, Low-Level Laser Therapy and Topical Formulas are also valid options to accelerate hair regrowth.
In the case of more severe forms of Telogen Effluvium, individuals can also choose to seek the professional advice of a trichologist. Through a routine patient history consultation, an experienced trichologist could in fact be able to identify the underlying cause of hair loss and therefore prescribe the correct treatment plan.