Understanding Telogen Effluvium: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Manish Choudhary
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
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telogen effluvium

Losing hair is a typical worry impacting individuals of various ages and backgrounds.

Many people may experience Telogen Effluvium (TE), which is a prevalent issue that causes hair loss. 

It is like a “club hair” situation where your hair falls out more than usual. 

This usually happens when something surprising or stressful happens to your body.

Gaining insight into Telogen Effluvium is crucial as it is a common occurrence.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the complexities of this condition, shedding light on its symptoms, causes, and treatment methods. 

We will also look at its diagnosis and management options available.

What is Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium is a temporary hair loss when many hair follicles shift from the growing (Anagen) phase to the resting (Telogen) phase.

Hair usually goes through three different phases: 

  • Anagen Phase: It is the growth phase, where your hair grows actively
  • Catagen Phase: A transitional phase when hair growth slows down
  • Telogen Phase: A resting phase where your hair is just resting and not actively growing

Normally, about 85-90% of our hair is in the Anagen phase, responsible for growth, while the remaining 10-15% is in the Telogen phase, where the hair is at rest.

In Telogen Effluvium, roughly 30% of hair follicles enter the Telogen phase, which is essentially a resting period when hair strands are naturally shed from the scalp to pave the way for new hair growth. 

This shift can lead to increased hair shedding, resulting in noticeable thinning or even bald patches in severe cases. 

While TE might be distressing, the good news is that it is often reversible once the underlying cause is addressed.

Telogen Effluvium symptoms

The most noticeable symptom of Telogen Effluvium is increased hair shedding. 

Individuals may find more hair on their pillows, shower drains, and hairbrushes. 

Unlike other types of hair loss, TE does not result in visible bald patches; instead, hair appears thinner due to the overall reduction in hair density. 

Some of the telltale signs include:

  • Increased hair shedding: A noticeable increase in the amount of hair lost during daily activities like showering, combing, or even gently tugging
  • Thinning: The overall density of hair appears reduced, making the scalp more visible
  • Widening part: A broader parting line than usual due to reduced hair volume
  • Receding hairline: In some cases, Telogen Effluvium can cause temporary receding of the hairline

Acute vs Chronic TE shedding

AspectAcute sheddingChronic shedding
DurationShort-term, often triggered by specific events or factorsProlonged, persistent shedding over an extended period
Scalp conditionShedding can be triggered by sudden stressorsUsually indicative of underlying health imbalances or ongoing issues
Hair regrowthHair regrowth is common after the resolving the cause of hair lossHair regrowth might be slower or less prominent due to underlying issues

Telogen Effluvium causes

Stress ReductionSource: People_Images_from_Getty_Images
Stress

Telogen Effluvium can be triggered by various factors that disrupt the natural hair growth cycle. 

Some common causes include:

  • Physical or emotional stress: Major life events such as surgery, illness, or emotional stress can shock the body and disrupt the hair growth cycle
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, particularly iron, and protein, can impact hair health and lead to TE
  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormones due to childbirth, pregnancy, or thyroid disorders can contribute to TE
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as those used in Chemotherapy or blood pressure management, can lead to TE as a side effect
  • Rapid weight loss: Drastic weight loss, crash diets, or eating disorders can cause disruptions in the hair growth cycle
  • Chronic Illness: Long-term illnesses like Diabetes or Lupus can trigger TE as the body redirects resources away from hair growth

Diagnostic approach for Telogen Effluvium

The diagnostic approach for Telogen Effluvium involves a comprehensive assessment which includes:

Clinical history

The doctor might want to gather detailed information about the patient’s medical history, recent life events, medications, surgeries, and changes in hair care routines.

Physical examination

Examination of the scalp and hair is done to assess the extent of hair thinning, texture changes, and any signs of inflammation or scalp disorders.

Pull test

A pull test performed by gently tugging on a cluster of hairs helps to determine the proportion of hairs in the Telogen phase, which is elevated in Telogen Effluvium.

Laboratory tests

Blood testSource: Pixel_away_from_Getty_Images
Blood test

These tests include:

  • Blood tests: Blood tests are conducted to check for factors like thyroid function, iron levels, hormonal imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies (e.g., vitamin D, ferritin, and zinc)
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): It is done to assess for Anemia and other potential underlying medical conditions
  • Hormone levels: Hormone levels such as Thyroid hormones, Cortisol, and sex hormones are evaluated to know if the shedding is hormone-induced
  • Ferritin levels: Low Ferritin can indicate iron deficiency, contributing to hair shedding
  • Scalp biopsy: In some cases, a small sample of scalp tissue might be taken for analysis to rule out other hair loss conditions and to examine the hair follicles’ status

Trichoscopy

This non-invasive technique involves using a special microscope to examine the hair and scalp, helping to identify signs of hair loss patterns and conditions.

Consultation with specialists

If needed, your healthcare provider may recommend seeing specialists like dermatologists, endocrinologists, or nutritionists to address any underlying medical issues that could be causing your hair shedding.

Conditions mistaken for Telogen Effluvium

Here are a few other types of hair loss that might look similar:

  • Female Pattern Hair Loss: This involves a wider part in your hair and thinner hair at the front and top of your scalp
  • Male Pattern Hair Loss: Sometimes, Telogen Effluvium can resemble this, especially if you see hair receding at the temples
  • Diffuse Alopecia Areata: This type of hair loss might have immune-related issues, like vitiligo. Doctors can do a scalp biopsy to check for specific signs
  • Anagen Effluvium: This is more severe than Telogen Effluvium and often linked to things like Chemotherapy
  • Hair Shaft problems: Some people have issues with their hair itself, like loose anagen hair syndrome
  • Congenital Atrichia: This is a rare condition where a person is born without hair
  • Congenital Hypotrichosis: Here, a person is born with very thin or sparse hair

Consulting with a doctor is crucial to identify the root cause of hair loss, as there are numerous conditions that could be responsible for it.

Telogen Effluvium treatment

When considering treatment options for Telogen Effluvium, there are several paths to explore: 

Topical treatments

Topical treatments, like Minoxidil and Finasteride, have been studied to promote hair growth.

They work by prolonging the growth phase of the hair follicles.

Both these medications are FDA-approved to treat Male Pattern Baldness.

However, doctors often prescribe it off-label in treating other forms of hair loss as well.

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Topical Corticosteroids

Topical Corticosteroids, a type of medication, can be used by dermatologists to treat Telogen Effluvium. 

If applying these medications reduces hair pain (Trichodynia), it suggests the treatment might be working.

Systemic Corticosteroids

Systemic Corticosteroids, another kind of medication, might be prescribed for chronic Telogen Effluvium cases lasting over six months.

However, this is typically done when an underlying systemic disorder like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is causing the Telogen Effluvium.

CNPDA

A novel approach named CNPDA treatment combines certain ingredients to enhance hair thickness. 

These include Caffeine, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Dimethicone, and Acrylate Polymer.

Studies suggest it can increase individual hair fiber diameter, giving the appearance of thicker, healthier hair.

Management for Telogen Effluvium

Addressing Telogen Effluvium requires identifying and managing the underlying cause. Here are strategies to consider:

Stress management

Stress reductionSource: A's_Images
Practicing yoga

Practicing meditation, yoga, or seeking counseling can help reduce stress-related shedding.

These practices help in achieving hormonal balance, which plays a major role in maintaining the hair growth cycle.

The researchers found that stress has long been implicated as one of the causal factors involved in hair loss. 

Balanced nutrition

Your hair’s health is closely linked to what you put into your body. 

Just as your skin and organs require nutrients to function optimally, your hair also thrives when provided with the right building blocks.

Ensure a well-rounded diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals for hair health.

A diet for hormonal balance should include nutrient-rich foods like lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. 

Incorporate foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc, and antioxidants.

Fact:
Promote hair health by incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your diet:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), flaxseeds, and walnuts
  • Vitamin D: Boosted by sun exposure, fortified dairy products, and fatty fish (salmon, sardines)
  • B Vitamins: Include whole grains, eggs, and leafy greens for Biotin (B7) and B5.
  • Zinc: Obtain it from nuts, seeds, whole grains, and lean meats
  • Antioxidants: Berries, colorful vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes), and green tea

Stay hydrated and limit processed foods and sugary items, as they can disrupt hormonal equilibrium.

Environmental Factors

Telogen Effluvium can also be influenced by environmental factors.

Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, particularly in sun-drenched regions, has been associated with the occurrence of Telogen Effluvium.

Therefore, protecting your hair and scalp from excessive sunlight through the use of hats, scarves, or sunblock can play a crucial role in managing and preventing Telogen Effluvium.

Supplements

Supplements can be considered to support hair growth in Telogen Effluvium, but consulting a healthcare provider is essential. 

Examples include biotin, which aids in hair strength, and iron, crucial for addressing underlying anemia-related causes.

Scalp Health

Nurturing both your scalp health and hair’s vitality is paramount. 

Prioritize a clean, nourished scalp to foster ideal conditions for hair growth. 

Embrace a gentle hair care regimen, sidestepping harsh styling and chemical treatments, to safeguard and enhance your hair’s natural beauty.

Educating patients

Educating patients about the disease’s connection to triggers is vital. 

Understanding hair loss timing and triggers can reduce frustration. 

Hair loss impact varies; addressing psychological concerns is crucial.

Warning:
Do not stop taking your prescribed medication before completing the entire course. Doing so prematurely could potentially result in hair loss, and in severe cases, it might even lead to complete baldness. Make sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and complete your treatment to safeguard your hair health.

Conclusion

Telogen Effluvium emerges as a prevalent issue in the realm of hair loss concerns that affect individuals across various ages and backgrounds. 

Stress, illness, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, certain medications, sudden weight loss, or chronic diseases often trigger the condition.

Differentiating it from other types of hair loss is crucial for effective treatment. 

Management involves stress reduction, balanced nutrition, hormonal balance, environmental factors consideration, gentle hair care, and various treatments such as topical applications and medications.

By addressing underlying causes and adopting hair-friendly practices, you can navigate through this shedding phase with confidence. 

Remember, seeking professional guidance is paramount for accurate diagnosis and tailored management strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Telogen Effluvium last?

Telogen Effluvium is a temporary condition where hair shedding increases. It typically lasts for about 6 months. However, there’s no need for concern, as your hair tends to return to its normal growth pattern once the underlying problem improves.

What is the fastest way to cure Telogen Effluvium?

While Telogen Effluvium doesn’t have an instant cure, a multifaceted approach can aid recovery. Prioritize stress management, maintain a balanced diet, and practice proper hair care. Treating underlying health issues can expedite healing. Minoxidil and Finasteride may be considered under medical supervision.

How do I know if my hair loss is Telogen Effluvium?

If you notice more hair falling out than usual, but your scalp isn’t showing bald spots, it might be Telogen Effluvium. Also, if your hair is thinning all over rather than in one area, that’s a sign. A doctor can help confirm if it’s Telogen Effluvium or another hair loss condition.

What triggers Telogen Effluvium?

Many things can trigger Telogen Effluvium, like major stress, illness, surgery, or changes in hormones. Nutritional deficiencies, certain medications, and even harsh hair treatments can also cause it. Identifying and addressing these triggers is important for managing the condition.

Citations:
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