Telogen Effluvium Treatment: Causes & Symptoms
Do you know what telogen effluvium (TE) is?
If it sounds like the name of some newly discovered planet millions of lightyears away or the next big pandemic, you’re not wrong in these assumptions (it sounds like both!).
But, alas, TE is found here on Earth.
So what is it?
Firstly, telogen effluvium is a specific condition where someone loses hair acutely due to some specific event (illness, trauma, etc.). Secondly, every hair follicle is at a different stage in the hair cycle. For instance, on average we shed about 50-150 hairs a day due to the number of hair follicles in the telogen phase. But when telogen effluvium hair thinning occurs, the hair follicles aren’t producing as much hair and shedding increases from roughly 10% to 30% during the telogen hair-cycle phase.
In other words, when the hair cycle isn’t working as it should, we can experience telogen effluvium hair loss. According to the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), this particular hair loss usually happens three months after an emotional or physical trigger occurs.
Keep reading to learn more about TE, its causes, risk factors, and if there’s a telogen effluvium treatment. Also, if you’re experiencing this issue with your tresses, rest assured that there are plenty of helpful resources out there, including Ravkoo MD, whose doctors can explain what telogen effluvium regrowth looks like and help you find solutions.
What is telogen effluvium?
Firstly, dermatologists diagnose TE as the second most typical form of hair loss, so if you’re going through this, you’re not alone. Secondly, Telogen effluvium is a type of sudden hair loss that’s usually precipitated by some form of stress or trauma (divorce, covid infection, stress from school/work/etc.).
The exact mechanism isn’t well understood but in general it’s thought that some precipitating event increases the number of hair follicles in the telogen phase of the hair cycle— causing excess shedding and telogen effluvium hair loss.
Typically, the hair cycle has three phases: the anagen (growth) phase, the catagen (transitional) phase, and the telogen (resting or shedding) phase. Some health experts believe that the telogen phase is when our hair rests and then sheds hair. But other experts have separated rest and shedding cycles into telogen and exogen.
While it’s believed that you won’t lose all your hair with this health condition, your luscious locks will become noticeably thinned out. Furthermore, telogen effluvium happens more often in women due to a disturbance in the hair cycle from a stressful event, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. Thinning hair isn’t fun for anyone, but the good news is that telogen effluvium hair loss is typically temporary.
If you’re experiencing TE, you might be wondering:
- Is medicine necessary?
- What caused it?
- Is there a telogen effluvium treatment?
- What does telogen effluvium regrowth look like?
So let’s get into it!
What are the symptoms of telogen effluvium?
When a person has this condition, their hair follicles stay intact and can begin to produce hair again once healing occurs, resulting in regrowth. Furthermore, TE is non-scarring hair loss from one’s head. Non-scarring means the hair follicles aren’t damaged, which is why hair regrowth can occur.
This particular type of hair loss usually happens after someone undergoes stress caused by extreme metabolic changes, hormonal imbalances, or emotional stress. Usually, TE hair thinning starts three months after a triggering event and can last for roughly six months.
But for some, the hair loss can continue for longer (even up to a year). TE doesn’t cause bald patches on the scalp (unlike female or male pattern baldness). But it does result in overall thinning, and symptoms of TE include:
- Noticeable hair loss
- Healthy looking scalp
- Overall hair thinning (not just one place)
- Temporary hair thinning and loss
- Shedded hair has a white bulb and a lack of shine
- Lusterless, dry hair that’s easy to pluck
- Sparse-looking hair
- Color changes
But what does telogen effluvium regrowth look like?
As your hair regrows after experiencing TE and you begin to heal, you can expect two major things to happen. First, the hair shedding will lessen. Secondly, you’ll see more strands of hair on your scalp. So here are more details about what to expect when your hair begins regrowing:
- Less hair will shed: When your hair reaches the normal shed amount, about 50-100 hairs a day, your hair is regrowing.
- More strands begin appearing: Whether you call them baby hairs or flyaways, the new strands will be in their beginning stages of regrowth (so they’ll be short).
Even if your hair isn’t growing back as quickly as you want, take comfort knowing that it’s on the right track and recouping needs to start somewhere! Also, talk with your doc about telogen effluvium treatment to see if there’s anything you can do to support your scalp’s health further.
What are the causes of telogen effluvium hair loss?
Stress is a significant cause of TE, but it’s just one of the many factors that can lead to telogen effluvium hair loss. This kind of hair thinning and loss is linked to trauma, certain medications, or significant weight reduction.
Furthermore, in a piece published on WebMD, Dr. Robert Haber, MD, dermatologist and transplant surgeon, explains that TE is the rapid and temporary loss of hair caused by a stressful event. For instance, childbirth, emotional duress, surgery, substantial weight loss, illness, and new prescriptions.
According to a study published in Cureus in 2020, multiple factors can trigger TE, such as:
- Certain medications: While prescriptions have great value in helping people combat health problems, they can cause undesirable side effects like hair loss. TE is one of the most typical types of hair loss caused by some medications. Drugs that can lead to TE include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Poor diet: Nutrient deficiencies caused by crash dieting or chronic starvation can cause TA. Some key nutrients for hair growth include biotin, fatty acids, protein, iron, and vitamin D. If you’ve been identified as having poor nutrition, focusing on creating a well-balanced and nutritious meal plan can be all-around helpful!
- Autoimmune conditions: Some medical experts believe autoimmune disorders (like systemic lupus erythematosus and Hashimoto thyroiditis) can lead to TE.
- Pregnancy & giving birth: Pregnancy and giving birth are incredibly demanding, both physically and emotionally, because they alter a woman’s hormones, emotions, and physical wellbeing. Therefore, telogen effluvium hair loss can occur due to the sudden hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and after birth.
However, most women experience complete regrowth and may not even need to seek telogen effluvium treatment. But ideally, if a woman is experiencing hair loss, it’s best to consult a trusted healthcare provider for nutritional, hormonal, and emotional support.
- Physical stress: Many significant physical events can cause TE. These stressors include chronic illness, high fever, surgical trauma, and a hemorrhage. Thankfully, hair loss is typically rectified once a person recovers from their illness or recovers from the physical trauma.
- Emotional stress: Emotional duress can impact your body, leading to TE hair thinning. While stress-induced hair loss is usually temporary, taking steps to manage tension is worthwhile, such as going to therapy. Believe it or not, our hair is sensitive to stress.
Other causes of TE include menopause and metal toxicity.
Telogen effluvium treatment:
Telogen effluvium treatment depends on what triggered the hair loss in the first place. You’ll want to get tested to learn what led to the development of telogen effluvium. Whether it’s stress, pregnancy, childbirth, trauma, fever, or nutritional deficiency (or something else), that’s causing your hair to become thin, pinpointing the underlying cause will lead the way and provide a clear understanding for your doctor on how to best revive your scalp.
Once the TE trigger has been identified through testing and the correct treatment is provided, your hair should return to normal with time. A blood test can help identify underlying health concerns affecting your hair’s growth, so speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
Here are a few TE treatments available:
- Minoxidil: An over-the-counter hair-growth solution, Minoxidil can help treat hair loss. However, this treatment must be used consistently, and following the instructions is essential for optimal results.
- Improve your diet: Has your diet changed lately? Maybe you’re working long hours and not eating regular meals (and feeling overwhelmed). Maybe you’re eating out more, and the foods aren’t as nourishing as you’d normally have at home. Or maybe you’ve been crash dieting (which is never ideal, so please seek support). Whatever the reason, speak to a dietician, nutritionist, or doctor to create a meal plan with supplements to bolster your scalp and overall health.
- Treat your scalp: When you treat scalp problems like dandruff, you can remove any physical barriers blocking hair growth. Scalp issues can cause itching, inflammation, and irritation; therefore, getting scalp treatment can improve your hair’s wellness.
- Take supplements: Vitamin deficiencies are best resolved under the care of a dietician and doctor. With that said, the following vitamins can help boost the vitality of your scalp and tresses: vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin E. However, some of these nutrients can cause hair loss when taken in excess, so do your research and get professional advice.
How can Ravkoo MD be helpful for people suffering from thinning-hair issues?
Are you experiencing hair thinning, or do you think you might have telogen effluvium? If so, we get that it’s an incredibly sensitive issue. Experiencing hair loss can impact your life in big ways (both emotionally and physically). That’s precisely why our team at Ravkoo Health created the app that brings you at-home doctor consultations.
When you download the Ravkoo Health App, you gain access to Ravkoo MD. With Ravkoo MD, you’re able to use your phone to book and confer with a physician. Our licensed, vetted healthcare professionals are here to discuss health conditions with you. If you’re prescribed medication, you can order it online through Ravkoo RX.
To sum up:
If you’re experiencing telogen effluvium, take some time to remember that you’re likely under some significant emotional or physical stress—so be gentle with yourself. The first thing to do is take note of any impactful event(s) that have occurred in your life. And seek medical attention immediately.