Tress Troubles: Telogen Effluvium
Telogen Effluvium is one of the most common forms of hair loss. This happens when there is a reduction in the number of hair follicles that grow hair. At any given point of time approximately 90 % of the hair is in the anagen phase which means that roughly 10% of the hair is in the telogen phase. Initially, telogen effluvium appears like the thinning of the hair in a particular area of the scalp. If the thinning appears in multiple places some areas will seem to be more affected than the rest of the parts.
When there is a significant increase in the hair that is in the resting phase telogen effluvium occurs. So, this essentially means that when about 30% of your hair enters the telogen phase then you are experiencing a condition of telogen effluvium.
In most cases telogen effluvium affects the top of the scalp and does not really cause the hairline to recede but does cause hair fall. Patients also frequently complain of scalp pain. This, however, is not an unalterable state and home remedies for this hair fall control are available to manage the condition.
What Causes Telogen Effluvium
Telogen Effluvium can happen because of a number of causes. This includes:
- Physical trauma
- Psychological stress
- Infection or illness
- Exposure to toxins. These are like a shock induced by the environment and can also cause the follicles to go into a resting phase
- Surgeries could also cause a shock to your system but normal hair growth resumes within a few months
- Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Strong medication
- Significant weight loss
- Change in diet or a poor diet deficient in iron, B-vitamins zinc and proteins. Crash dieting has also been known to cause Telogen Effluvium
- Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy or menopause. Hormonal changes 3-6 months after delivery can cause follicles to go into a prolonged state of rest and can also cause hair to shed. This is postpartum telogen effluvium
Since hair entering the telogen phase rests in its place for at least 2-4 months before falling out the loss of hair will also not be felt for the same period. The phase of telogen effluvium usually does not last beyond 6 months, but on rare occasions it does extend beyond this period. This can affect about 50% of your scalp hair and is essentially non-scarring. Though you might lose a great amount of hair within a short period of time, this is usually temporary, and the hair that is retired into the telogen phase is usually replaced by new hair.
If your system experiences a shock, you might lose up to 70% of your hair 2 months after the shock. You might feel the effects of a relatively empty scalp as hair grows slowly but in time the hair will regain its original density. The major hair shedding happens when you shampoo or brush your hair and even when you give it a light massage. Shedding progressively decreases over the next 6-8 months when the telogen effluvium causes no longer exist.
Who Are at Risk of Getting Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen effluvium affects both men and women from all age groups but it is largely believed to be more prevalent in women. This is particularly visible in women with thick and moderately long hair. This is for no other reason but for the fact that the shedding is more noticeable as compared to women with finer or shorter hair. The process of telogen effluvium treatment in women is still under study; ladies with normal hormonal functions have also had prolonged phases of telogen effluvium involving large-scale hair loss over years. The level of shedding is usually high during the early stages and the hair may come out in clumps. If the person experiences telogen effluvium hair loss consistently over a period of 6 months it could become a case of chronic telogen effluvium, and at the time could extend to 7 years. The best thing would be to diagnose this at the right time and get the right hair fall treatment plan that would help manage TE.
Diagnosis of Telogen Effluvium
Doctors need to distinguish normal hair loss from hair fall that is the result of a disease with some prominent telogen effluvium symptoms. It is usually separated on the basis of appearance and the frequency of hair shedding. Get a rough count of the number of strands that you lose on a daily basis; if your approximation is significantly more than 100 strands, a visit to the doctor might be necessary. Large bald patches are not an indication of telogen effluvium.
Furthermore, you could pull your hair gently to test the strength of your strands, but this might not give an accurate result if you have had a shampoo 48 hours before. They could also be examined under a microscope and at times a biopsy could be done for a confirmatory telogen effluvium diagnosis. In more ambiguous cases blood tests might also be done.
Treatment & Medication for Telogen Effluvium
Most cases of telogen effluvium do not require any treatment. Hair normally falls out if a new hair beneath it pushes it out and contributes to hair regrowth. Therefore, it becomes part of a natural process. Because the hair growth happens gradually, the density might appear thinner in the initial period, but the growth will achieve its fulness in course of time.
Hair fall treatment could involve introducing some lifestyle changes or using some OTC medicines. But first you need to find out the cause for your hair fall, is it your environment, lifestyle or hormones.
Diet: Good dietary habits are an absolute essential to stop hair fall. A well-balanced and nutritious diet could be your panacea for all hair problems. This is also your solution on how to get thick hair naturally. Include a sufficient quantity of proteins irons, zinc and vitamins in your diet. Have a lot of eggs, milk products and beans. However, some vitamins like vitamin A and E could cause hair fall, so the dosage should be taken after a consultation with the doctor.
Clean scalp: A clean scalp is an absolute essential for treating any hair issue. A dirty scalp could lead to clogged follicles which are impediments to hair growth. Exfoliating the dead skin from layers of scalp would lead to the removal of itching, inflammation and skin redness issues. This will facilitate a process of natural treatment for telogen effluvium.
OTC medicines: When it comes to OTC medicines it is extremely essential to choose a product that has 5% Minoxidil. It is applied once daily to the scalp and helps prolong the anagen phase or the growth phase of the hair follicles. This is considered the most effective telogen effluvium medication. However, there are certain important things to be taken into consideration before using Minoxidil. People might keep on losing hair, in fact more of it, when they start using minoxidil, in the initial phase at least. This is because while minoxidil increases the resting phase of your hair, leading to hair fall, it also extends the growth phase allowing new hair to take its place soon.
Ayurveda: Shiroabhyanga is a massage therapy using medicated ayurvedic oils on your scalp, neck and shoulders and could work wonders for telogen effluvium regrowth. The blood circulation improves as the oils penetrate the scalp tissues and rejuvenate them.
Shirolepa is the application of herbal paste on the scalp and helps in minimising stress problems by deep conditioning your hair. The appropriate formulation needs to be selected on the basis of your dosha levels and your skin type. This is a very effective telogen effluvium cure.
Home Remedies For Hair Fall:
- Essential oils: Massage your hair with essential oils such as tea tree oil and lavender oil by mixing it with a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil for 10 minutes in slow circular motions. This helps in improving circulation and reducing stress.
- Fenugreek mask: Soak fenugreek seeds overnight and make a fine paste out of it. Apply this from the roots along the length of your hair to the tips. Wash with a mild shampoo after an hour. Try out his remedy at least once a week.
- Curd mask: Massage curd to your scalp and keep it for about 15-20 minutes. Wash with normal water afterwards.
- Egg mask: Drop 2 tablespoons of olive oil over 2 egg whites and mix thoroughly. Apply this to your head and wash after an hour.
If stress is the reason behind the hair loss stress-relieving exercises will help in hair fall control. Yoga and meditation are possible options for relaxing and controlling stress. Hair loss resulting from telogen effluvium isn’t permanent. It will be able to resume its usual growth pattern in 6 months, however, your hair may take anywhere from 1 to 1 ½ year to regain its former appearance.
The vast majority of people have experienced significant hair regrowth after telogen effluvium. It is never too early to start addressing hair issues as the sooner you begin the better are your chances of preventing irreversible damage due to severe telogen effluvium. Visit us at Traya and speak to our medical professionals who will have a plethora of remedies to facilitate your journey towards healthy hair.
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Dr. Jaspreet Sarna, M.D
Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) with a decade-long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.