Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss brought on by traumatic events such as serious illness, injury, or surgery, stress, or physiological shock to the body. Human hair has three different stages: anagen is the growth phase, catagen is the transitional phase, and telogen is the resting phase. Telogen effluvium occurs when a large number of hair follicles enter into telogen phase abruptly and begin to fall out.
Telogen effluvium is usually temporary. However, some people develop the condition chronically, particularly if the disease or disorder that caused it is chronic. In most cases, hair grows back three to six months after the event has ended or been rendered neutral. Sometimes, however, hair loss is delayed and does not begin until months after the stressful event occurs. The average amount of hair a person with telogen effluvium experiences is 30 percent, but some people lose as much as half. Seldom does telogen effluvium cause complete hair loss.
Most people notice telogen effluvium when they begin finding hair in the drain after a shower, or extra hair stuck in their brush. Eventually, people become aware of a decrease in bulk or may notice their parts widening or skin visible through the hair. If you seek medical attention for telogen effluvium, your physician may perform a wash test. The practitioner washes your hair and counts the number of strands lost during the process. Blood tests can also determine the underlying cause of hair loss. Measuring the diameter and length of the hairs lost can help distinguish telogen effluvium from other types of hair loss.
Anyone who has experienced a shock to their system, mental or physical, can experience hair loss. Telogen effluvium tends to affect women more often than men, and specific stressors such as severe stress, poor diet, sudden weight loss, pregnancy and childbirth, and menopause can all prompt the condition. It may also be connected to certain medications, underlying health conditions, or metal toxicity. Temporary hair loss can also be a result of hormonal imbalances, thyroid disease, heart problems, and iron or protein deficiencies. Appearance is often the main concern of people with telogen effluvium, but doctors will want to determine and treat the cause.
If you have not previously dealt with hair loss and have recently experienced a stressful event in your life, there is a good chance your hair loss is due to telogen effluvium. However, ruling out underlying conditions is still advisable. Some people find their hair loss does not stop entirely, but only slows down over time. Seeing a physician to help treat any residual effects of the traumatic event can help prevent a chronic case of telogen effluvium.
It is a myth that your hair continually grows. The anagen, or growth phase of the hair follicle lasts two or more years unless something happens to interrupt it. The transition phase varies significantly, but the telogen phase can last up to two months. After the telogen phase is complete, the hair falls out, and the follicle starts growing a new hair fiber. The telogen phase is considered the resting phase, as the hair follicle prepares for the next phase of growth. Typically, 80 to 90 percent of all hair follicles are in the anagen, or growth phase, at any one time. Only about 10 to 20 percent are in the telogen phase at once. If you have telogen effluvium, a higher percentage of hair goes into the telogen phase.
Stress-induced hair loss can affect any hair on your body. Some people lose their eyebrows, hair on their face, arms, legs, torso, and pubic area. All hair on our bodies goes through the same cycle of anagen, catagen, and telogen. All hair can be affected by a stressful event.
A person who has experienced a stressful event or another precipitating factor can experience a sudden loss of hair as many as two or three months after the event. Generally, this delayed response leads to a quick recovery time, which often begins three to six months after the event. Another type of telogen effluvium occurs gradually, with more follicles entering the resting state over time, causing a slow thinning of the scalp. This type of hair loss is not as shocking, but it can last longer; a prolonged telogen phase means the third phase will progress more slowly, as well.
Genetically linked pattern baldness is called androgenic alopecia and usually occurs as a result of hormonal changes related to age. Sometimes people with hormone imbalances also experience this type of baldness at an earlier than average age. Androgenic alopecia occurs to some degree in about 50 percent of all men and 25 percent of all women, usually beginning by age 60. In men, androgenic alopecia often begins as a receding hairline. For women, androgenic alopecia may appear as an all-over thinning of the hair. Telogen effluvium is almost always an all over thinning of the hair, regardless of sex. Physicians can distinguish between the conditions by examining the characteristics of the hair that has been shed.
Most of the time, if the event that caused the hair loss is temporary, the condition will resolve itself without treatment. If an underlying condition is the cause, doctors generally seek to treat that condition. If the hair loss is problematic or of particular concern, the physician may send you to a dermatologist or someone who specializes in hair loss therapy and surgical replacement. Psychological counseling may be recommended to manage stress, and specialists such as endocrinologists may also be able to assist.
The best way to prevent telogen effluvium is to take care of your overall health. This includes making sure your diet is pacekd with nutrients, and that you are getting enough sleep and sufficient exercise. If a health condition does arise, getting it treated quickly can help avoid side effects such as telogen effluvium. Sometimes, events that cause telogen effluvium cannot be helped, such as accidents or sudden illness, but working with professionals to return to health quickly will help limit or prevent hair loss related to the event .
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