Causes of Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss and Treatments

Telogen effluvium is a noticeable hair loss mainly associated with episodes of stress and traumatic events. It isn't the same as alopecia areata and tends to affect more women than men.
Causes of Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss and Treatments

Last update: 21 September, 2021

Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss that happens after severe stress or traumatic events. It can affect anyone, male or female, regardless of age. However, it occurs more frequently in young women.

In order to be able to treat it properly, try to determine the factors that influence its appearance. What are the possible causes and therapeutic options available? Here are the details.

Causes of telogen effluvium

This condition is a type of alopecia that occurs when the root of the follicle has specific damage that hinders its development and growth cycle. Hair loss is usually temporary and thus, you shouldn’t mistake it for alopecia areata.

In general, it’s normal to lose up to 100 hairs per day. However, it’s possible to lose up to 300 hairs instead of 100 when this condition occurs, as detailed in a document in Harvard Health Publishing. There are several possible triggers. Among them:

  • Stress or traumatic events: Episodes of stress alter the growth of the hair follicle and thus, there’s a decrease in hair density. Two to three months can go by before hair loss manifests from the moment the hair follicle becomes damaged. A large number of follicles may deteriorate during this elapsed time.
  • Fever or infectious diseases.
  • Malnutrition, either due to health problems or insufficient consumption of certain foods. A person goes back to their normal state once they overcome malnutrition.
  • Post-surgical.
  • Postpartum telogen effluvium is one of the most common causes in women. Together with the beginning of motherhood, they cause emotional exhaustion and consequent stress. The duration of the condition depends on the cause and how quickly a woman begins to treat it.
  • Severe thinning.
A bald patch.
Episodes of severe stress and nutritional deficiencies are the main triggers of telogen effluvium.

Check out these 10 Reasons that Might Explain Your Hair Loss

Diagnosis

Doctors make the diagnosis after a physical examination and questioning by a physician or dermatologist during a consultation. They may suggest a “pull test” to check for hair loss. It consists of gently pulling the hair to verify its quality.

Furthermore, the professional will also need a blood test to rule out other possible associated causes. However, the definitive diagnosis can be made through digital trichoscopy, as detailed in an article published in the International Journal of Trichology.

The importance of recognizing the condition

This is a reversible and limited disorder. Consultation with a specialist is the best step to take when it comes to stopping its evolution.

First of all, a person must obtain a diagnosis and establish the cause. Then, a physician should be able to guide the patient by suggesting the best treatment. Keep in mind that you must begin treatment of the hair follicle to reactivate its growth and stop its loss as soon as possible at the first signs of telogen effluvium.

As soon as you start it, the growth phase will manifest with fine, short hair which, with the passage of time, will thicken until it returns to its usual length and thickness. In general, this process is slow and can take up to 12 months.

What are the treatment options for telogen effluvium?

As mentioned above, the treatment for telogen effluvium depends largely on its trigger. In general, you must have the professional’s opinion to choose one option over another. In addition, it’s paramount to treat its underlying cause.

Frequent rinsing

Professionals also recommend rinsing the hair often – a minimum of 3 times a week – to remove all the old hair that’ll eventually fall out. This measure will reduce the shedding phase and accelerate the arrival of the growth phase.

Diet and supplementation

According to a review of studies published in Dermatologic Therapy, vitamins aren’t the only deficiency that can lead to telogen effluvium. A possible caloric deficiency or a deficit of other essential nutrients such as fatty acids, minerals, and proteins also plays a role.

Therefore, you must adjust the diet and, if necessary, resort to supplementation. The physician can guide you towards adequate nutrition, depending on the case.

A doctor writing a prescription.
The deficiency of some essential nutrients also leads to excessive hair loss. Thus, you must adjust the diet and resort to supplementation if you have to.

Minoxidil

The use of lotions such as minoxidil, which act directly on the hair follicle, helps stimulate hair growth. There’s no evidence of the efficacy of this product against problems such as telogen effluvium; however, it’s well-tolerated and has remarkable benefits against hair disorders.

Melatonin

Oral melatonin is useful. In fact, it’s effective in regulating the sleep cycle, acts as an antioxidant, and regulates the hair cycle by acting on hair growth in low doses.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Recent studies such as one published in the International Journal of Trichology show the benefits of an innovative treatment for hair loss disorders: platelet-rich plasma (PRP). There’s little evidence to corroborate its efficacy on telogen effluvium, although the findings are promising.

The treatment, reserved for cases in which other therapeutic options don’t work, consists of extracting the patient’s blood. The sample is then processed in a centrifuge to separate the platelet fraction from the natural growth factors.

Subsequently, specialists apply it to the scalp by means of microinjections to stimulate capillary growth. The procedure takes only 45 minutes and isn’t invasive.

Telogen effluvium: what should be clear?

Generally speaking, we all lose hair every day (about 100 hairs). However, hair loss can be abnormal in the event of trauma, stress episodes, or nutritional deficiencies. It’s important to determine whether it’s telogen effluvium in order to proceed with appropriate treatment.

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