Hair loss can be stressful. But does stress lead to hair loss in the first place? Sometimes, yes. This is a condition known as telogen effluvium. Dr. Jeffrey Epstein works with patients who have all different types of hair loss, including telogen effluvium.
Stress has become a common problem in everyday life. Whether it’s due to work or personal matters, stress can have major side effects on the body and the mind. One of these side effects is hair loss.
Telogen effluvium is a hair loss condition that occurs when the body and the mind are put under severe stress. If you are suffering from telogen effluvium, you might lose handfuls of hair at a time, far more than the 100 or so hairs a person typically loses in a day.
Most often, telogen effluvium is a temporary issue that can be treated. If you are dealing with hair loss of any kind, contacting a medical specialist is an excellent idea. The treatment for telogen effluvium is different than the treatment for female baldness or other types of hair loss.
If you suddenly notice that you are shedding more hair than usual, then seeing a hair loss and hair transplant specialist will help you pinpoint the cause of the loss and determine the best course of action.
Understanding the Telogen Phase
Hair goes through three phases of growth on an ongoing basis throughout our lives. They are:
- Growth (anagen phase)
- Transitional (catagen phase)
- Resting (telogen)
The last stage is the telogen phase. Typically, about 10 percent of the hair on your head is in the telogen phase at any given time.
During this period, a strand of hair has finished growing and is usually “resting.” After about three months, you will naturally shed the hair.
You can spot a strand of hair in the telogen phase by the small bulb at the tip of it when it falls out. The bulb is a sign that the hair fell out naturally and not due to breakage.
So, What Is Telogen Effluvium?
When telogen effluvium develops on a healthy scalp where up to 90% of the hair follicles are actively growing and producing hair, the condition reverses this number. It can cause up to 90% of the hair to enter the telogen phase.
Even though it is a common and temporary hair loss problem, telogen effluvium leads to maximum shedding. You might realize that you are suffering from this condition after about 3 months.
Telogen effluvium can either last a short period or can be ongoing. People with the acute form of the condition might lose more hair for a couple of months. The chronic form of telogen effluvium can mean hair loss that persists for six months or longer.
What Triggers The Hair Loss?
Several factors can contribute to a person developing the telogen effluvium disorder. Significant stress or a sudden shock to the body are two common causes of the condition.
For example, some women develop the condition right after giving birth due to sudden changes in their hormone levels. This causes postpartum hair loss. It can continue for a few months as female pattern alopecia.
A severe injury or high fever can also lead to a person developing the condition. There are also cases when the condition develops as a side effect or reaction to a prescribed medication. Medications that can trigger telogen effluvium include beta-blockers, retinoids, and lithium. Women who stop taking hormonal contraceptives might also develop hair loss.
Many surgical procedures can also cause telogen effluvium. Similarly, accidents, overexposure to the sun, and thyroid issues can contribute to the condition.
Telogen effluvium can also be connected to a person’s diet, particularly if they are limiting their protein and iron intake. These nutrients contribute to hair growth. Regularly crash dieting or fad dieting can trigger the condition, as they restrict a certain type of food or limit a person’s nutritional intake.
Persistent stress and exposure to triggers can lead to a chronic form of telogen effluvium rather than the acute version. People with chronic telogen effluvium usually notice that the hair on their scalp is thinning but might not notice an increase in shedding.
Who Is Likely To Experience Telogen Effluvium?
The acute form of telogen effluvium can occur among men and women of all ages. However, it is usually more common among women between 30 and 60 years of age.
During the early stages of telogen effluvium, the shedding can be severe and frequent. A woman might find herself pulling out a handful of hair every time she touches her head. Fortunately, telogen effluvium does not generally lead to complete baldness.
How Can You Identify Telogen Effluviem?
Symptoms of telogen effluvium include the following:
- Sudden excessive hair shedding over a short period of time.
- Severe hair fall from washing or combing the hair.
- A short period of temporary hair loss that does not exceed a few months.
- Shedding hairs that have a glossy sheath.
- Thinning hair all over the head.
- Random changes in hair color from darker to lighter shades.
If you find yourself experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it might be time to get medical advice on the health of your hair and scalp.
Telogen Effluvium And Androgenetic Alopecia
While telogen effluvium can occur on its own, in some cases it might occur as an early sign of androgenetic alopecia, which is known as male or female pattern baldness.
When a person has female or male pattern baldness, more of the hairs on the head are in the telogen phase (final stage of hair growth.) Once the hair sheds, it takes longer for the follicle to re-enter the active phase, if it ever does.
Treating Telogen Effluvium
Figuring out the cause of telogen effluvium is key to effectively treating it. In many cases, removing the trigger, whether it is persistent stress, a poor diet, or medications, will help the condition resolve on its own.
For example, if the condition is related to low hormone levels, taking medication to raise the hormones can help. If it’s related to a low iron intake, a person can take supplements.
There are various ways to correct habits that act as catalysts to excessive hair shedding during the telogen effluvium disorder period:
- Treat your hair gently. Try not to comb it too fast or apply force while tying your hair.
- Talk to a professional trichologist about any underlying scalp disorders.
- Discuss food habits with your doctor and add more nutritious food to diets to help nourish your hair follicles.
- See if it is possible to consult a qualified therapist to discuss stress, anxiety, and the overall mental health concerns that might be currently overwhelming you.
Laser light therapy also seems to provide an improvement in the majority of patients. If the patient’s telogen effluvium is an early sign of female or male pattern baldness, hair transplant surgery can usually be their best option, however.
Make An Appointment With Dr. Epstein Today
A proper diagnosis of telogen effluvium and any other hair loss disorders can help stop the shedding quickly through timely and efficient treatment. Call the office at (305) 912-4761 in Miami today to consult with Dr. Jeffrey Epstein. He can help you uncover the cause of your hair loss and recommend the best treatment option for you.