Telogen effluvium is a particular form of female hair loss that is quite common in different women. Compared to more chronic conditions like androgenetic alopecia, telogen effluvium is part of natural cycles of hair loss and regrowth. Women tend to experience three stages of hair growth: an anagen phase, typically lasting 2 to 6 years for longer hair growth, which affects 90 to 95% of hair. In this context, hairs will naturally grow, and can only be removed through breakages and cutting.
A shorter catagen phase also exists, but is mostly inconsequential compared to telogen phases. In this phase, hair growth will stop after a certain amount of time and hairs will fall out. About 5 to 10% of hair follicles fall out as part of this cycle, which typically amounts to about 120 hairs or so being naturally shed from the head on a daily basis. These hairs tend to grow back quickly within two to three months, and represent a naturally occurring part of the human hair growing cycle.
By contrast, telogen effluvium is a condition where an abnormal amount of hairs come out as part of the telogen cycle, with the rate of hair loss rising to between 100 to 400 hairs per day. Persistent telogen effluvium conditions will result in some thinning and patches. Causes for this condition include extreme amounts of mental or physical stress, as well as unusual liquid protein diets, deficiencies in iron, PCOS, anorexia, and side effects from anticoagulants and anticonvulsants.
In most cases the affected areas of the scalp will quickly recover, and a normal cycle of hair growth and loss will be restored. However, in some cases telogen effluvium can be related to a predisposed condition for androgenetic alopecia. Persistent and recurring telogen effluvium conditions can result in permanent hair loss, and can be treated in a range of different ways.
As with any form of female hair loss, treatment options can include intralace systems for hair replacement, as well as wigs, hair extensions and pieces that cover up any affected areas. Non surgical options include Minodixil, Rogaine and Finasteride treatments to slow the rate of hair loss and improve the health of the scalp. By comparison, surgical options include follicular unit extraction and transplantation.
In this context, follicular units are extracted from healthy areas of hair and transplanted into affected areas where hair has been lost. The new hair should grow naturally and within the right angle of the existing hair around the affected area. An out patient procedure that requires minimal anaesthetic, FUE is recommended for any minor hair loss that might result from telogen effluvium.
However, in most cases telogen effluvium is a naturally occurring condition, and will dissipate if related to particular periods of stress or hormonal changes as the result of pregnancy. For most women it is an irritating but normal part of hair growth and hair loss, and any more radical surgical or non surgical options should never be considered without proper medical consultation. Taking this approach is particularly important if pregnant, as hair loss treatment drugs with under-masculinising components can damage fetal development.
Serena has a keen interest in all aspects of healthcare. She is a freelance copywriter currently writing on behalf of Crown Clinic, leading London & Manchester based hair restoration specialists.