Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is an alteration of the normal hair cycle and is visible as thinning hair or excessive hair shedding. It was first discovered in 1961 by Dr. Albert M. Kligman.

This is one of the two hair loss conditions, along with alopecia areata, known as stress-induced alopecia. The name itself "effluvium" means the same as an outflow or leakage.

Dermatologists say this is the second most common way to lose hair. The first one is androgenetic alopecia. But, what are the causes of this type of hair loss?

Hair Growth CycleHair Growth Cycle

Causes of Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is more often seen in women than men but affects them as well. It appears as thinning hair on the head's crown, or on top of the scalp.

One main cause of telogen effluvium is stress, as stated in This is just one cause only, because there are many more. Here is the list:

            ·    anemia

            ·    being in contact with toxic metals

            ·    certain medications shown below

            ·    death of a loved one  

            ·    emotional trauma or shock

            ·    extreme crash diet or rapid weight loss

            ·    high fever

            ·    thyroid problems

            ·    infection

            ·    jetlag, or extreme tiredness due to a long flight across time zones

            ·    major physical event

            ·    overexposure to the sun

            ·    over treating your hair with chemicals or dyes

            ·    pregnancy and childbirth

            ·    serious accident

            ·    some illnesses

            ·    stress

            ·    stop using the contraception pill  

            ·    surgery

            ·    using styles that cause a lot of tension to your hair

As you can see, the condition is triggered by any event that can shocks the system in a physical or emotional way. What's the duration?

Telogen Effluvium Duration

The duration of the telogen effluvium depends upon the four stages of hair growth. The scalp hair growth has four phases, anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen.

The first one is the growing phase called anagen, in which the hair follicles are active with hair growth. During that phase the hair grows at the pace of six inches per year, and the duration last from two to seven years.

The second is the catagen phase, or transition phase, in which a kind of mysterious signal is sent to the scalp, causing the stage of hair growth to come to an end. It can last from 10 days to four weeks.

The third one is the telogen phase, in which the 10 to 15 percent of the old hair rests. That phase last about three months. While that happens, the new hair is starting to grow.

The last but not least is the exogen phase. It's like an exodus, but of hair instead of people, since this one goes into detachment mode, and usually lasts from two to four months. The duration of this phase doesn't take that long, but it does occur in rare cases.

Among the causes, as I said earlier are the medications. Which ones trigger the disorder?

Telogen Effluvium and Medications

Some medications interfere with the natural cycles of scalp hair growth. When they cause us to lose hair, it is known as either telogen effluvium or anagen effluvium. Of the two, the most common is the telogen effluvium, which appears almost always two to four months after taking the medication.

When that happens, the hair follicles go to a resting stage and fall out prematurely. We usually lose between 100 to 150 hairs daily. With telogen effluvium we lose between 30 to 70 percent more than normal.

The anagen effluvium prevents a correct stem cells division. These are the ones to produce new hair. That may take between a few days to weeks, from the time we started taking the medication.

This type of hair loss is almost always seen in people who are taking chemotherapy drugs to counteract cancer. It is usually serious and causes not only to fall most of the hair, but also the eyebrows, eyelashes, and other hairs of our body.

Have you seen those ads on TV for certain drugs? First, they explain the advantages of the medication. Then at the end of the ad, they say all the side effects as fast as possible.

The more we take the drug, the more hair will be lost. Therefore, we will see medications for different conditions, in which hair loss is among their side effects. Here is a list of some of them, which will alter any of the hair cycles, the anagen effluvium or telogen effluvium:

            ·    Acne medications that contain vitamin A or retinoids

            ·    Anabolic steroids for building muscles

            ·    Antibiotics

            ·    Anticoagulants or blood thinners

            ·    Antidepressants and mood stabilizers

            ·    Antifungal drugs

            ·    Beta blockers

            ·    Birth control pills

            ·    Chemotherapy drugs

            ·    Cholesterol lowering medications

            ·    Epilepsy drugs or anticonvulsants

            ·    Gout medications

            ·    High blood pressure or anti-hypertensive drugs

            ·    Hormone replacement therapy

            ·    Immunosuppressant drugs

            ·    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

            ·    Parkinson's disease drugs

            ·    Testosterone replacement therapy

            ·    Thyroid medications

            ·    Large doses of Vitamin A

            ·    Weight loss drugs   

You can see that there's a good amount of medication that causes hair loss, as it activates the telogen effluvium prematurely. By no means is this a complete list. I'll have to keep updating it. So you better watch out for those medications!

Until now we have covered only the condition known as telogen effluvium. Did you know there's a chronic version? What are the causes and symptoms? If you want to know more about the causes, symptoms, and the treatment of this the chronic telogen effluvium, you can click here.

Telogen Effluvium Treatment

Telogen effluvium is a disorder that corrects itself. The hair cycle should normalize, and the hair usually grows back when the cause of stress is treated.

There is no proven effective treatment for the condition. In spite of that, there are palliative remedies. That means that you can treat the causes.

For example, if your doctor finds that you are missing some vitamins and minerals, you should balance your diet to meet those needs.

So, I'll list a number of things you can do right away:

            ·    Avoid styles that cause a lot of tension to the hair

            ·    Brush or comb your hair gently

            ·    Consume more protein, as in red meat, poultry, oysters, or turkey

            ·    Don't over-treat hair with chemicals and dyes

            ·    Eat also spinach, cashews, beans, lentils, and tofu to increase iron

            ·    Hear relaxing music to de-stress the soul. Relax amigo!

            ·    If hair loss begins after a new medication, ask your doctor

            ·    Keep a limited exposure to the sun

            ·    Let hair dry naturally. No towel

            ·    Those with menopause could use hormone-replacement therapy. Since there are risks involved, consult your doctor before taking them

            ·    Use a hair growth stimulator like minoxidil, or better yet, a natural growth stimulator, to avoid side effects  

If you have chronic telogen effluvium, remember the symptoms take much longer to disappear than with the common disorder. How to cope with the condition?

Coping with Telogen Effluvium

I can't stress enough the big difference between normal telogen effluvium and the chronic version. Why is it so important?

Because, with telogen effluvium your hair could go into the resting stage from two to eight years, and at the same time as your hair enters that resting phase, other follicles are beginning to produce new hair.

But, with chronic or acute telogen effluvium, there's a whole different story. If a shock or trauma occur to the system, in just two months, you can shed even up to 70 percent of your current hair. A great exodus indeed! One that might as well last for decades.

So in the best case scenario, is better to avoid any of the pitfalls that can lead to the chronic condition. Sure, it is very easy to say, but not to do. Prevention is the key here.

Yes, accidents could happen, but if you are an easy going person, don't get into unnecessary problems, and get well along other people around you, the probabilities of not getting into the chronic or acute version of the telogen effluvium are far better than taking all the measures we have discussed earlier.