Telogen Effluvium : Acute Hair Loss

Telogen effluvium is a situation that occurs when there is a reduction in the density of those hairs that are growing. In simple terms, it is hair loss occurring from stress, hormonal changes, or any critical life event. It is pretty normal as everyone suffers from some stress these days and is temporary which means, the lost hairs are reversible. Sometimes, you may not need any treatment to gain those hair, you gain that automatically. As per dermatologists, telogen effluvium is the second most common type of hair loss among men and women.



The Cycle of Hair Growth

Normally, the hair on the human scalp grows by .3 to .4 mm/day. There are three stages of hair growth and shedding, hence, at any point in time, any hair will be at one of these stages: anagen, catagen, and telogen.

1. Anagen

Anagen is the growing, active, and longest phase of hair that remains for 2-5 years, though for some people this period may extend to 7 years whereas it’s just 30-45 days eyebrows, eyelashes,
legs, and arms. In this phase, the cells in the root hair divide quickly, and hence, new hairs are formed and push those hairs that are no longer in the anagen phase.

Hair grows at a speed of around 1 cm per four weeks. Around 85% of all the hair is in anagen at any time out of which only 20-30% of hair goes to the catagen phase, the rest gets shredded. The hair follicles get weak and fall 2-3 months after an incident, say loved one’s death, disease, surgery, crash dieting, etc.

2. Catagen

Catagen is the transitional phase that covers around 3-5% of all hair at any time. Here, hair prevents to grow and the outer root sheath starts shrinking. This process begins after the anagen ends
and lasts for 2-3 weeks.

3. Telogen

Telogen is the resting phase that lasts for 3 months. During this period, the hair stays attached to the hair follicle but does not grow. Around 10-15% of all the hair on the scalp is in this phase
at any time. It’s the phase reversal process, i.e., after this phase, the hair follicles reenter the anagen, and new hairs are formed.

Now if telogen effluvium happens to occur during this phase, it may result in hair shedding. During this phase only, new hairs start to form. Normally, 50-100 telogen hairs are shed every day. If your hair falls more than that, it may result in hair thinning and baldness.

What are the reasons for telogen effluvium?

There are a lot of factors that trigger telogen effluvium, such as:

1. Mental or physical trauma

Any kind of trauma like meeting an accident, any blood loss, going under surgery, losing any loved one, etc. puts the hair follicles into a resting state. Hence, this stops hair growth.
Although it is just a temporary phase and your hair gets back to normal after 6-12 months.

2. Hormonal changes

Any change in the hormone level impacts various things and telogen effluvium is one of those. It affects the hair follicles the same way any trauma does. It prolongs the resting state of hair

3. Medication and Diet

A prolonged and heavy medication also affects telogen effluvium. Blood thinners, heart medications, anti-depressants, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments are some of the medications that
lead to hair loss. It is also believed that some nutrient deficiencies like iron, zinc, vitamin B-12, etc. may also result in hair loss.

Treatment of Telogen Effluvium

1. Topical treatments and medications

There are numerous topical products available in the market for treating hair loss including creams and oils, major ones are mentioned below-

a. Topical Minoxidil

Also known as Rogaine, it is an over-the-counter medication, available in the form of foam, cream, and spray, and to be applied only on the scalp, eyebrows, and beard. It is to be applied
twice a day and may take months to see the effects.

b. Topical Corticosteroids

There are topical OTC and corticosteroids that are generally used to treat alopecia areata, a disorder resulting in patchy hair loss.

c. Finasteride

This medicine by Propecia, Proscar is used to treat male pattern baldness. It is to be used alone or with some other medication only on the prescription of your doctor.

2. PRP Therapy

Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy is a treatment in which a person’s blood is drawn out, processed, and then inserted into the scalp. Though it’s not a sure shot solution for hair loss, many think
that it activates natural hair growth by enhancing the blood flow to the hair follicles.

3. Peptides

Peptides play a vital role in hair growth. These are present in every tissue and cell of the human body and one needs to maintain some level of peptides for healthy hair. There are various
types of Peptides, like copper, thymic, biomimetic, etc. essential for hair growth. They improve microcirculation, boost collagen, and repair skin.

4. Supplements

Vitamins and minerals are necessary for overall good health. Iron, vitamin C, zinc, and biotin are quite prominent for good hair growth and hence, treat telogen effluvium very well. It’s not
practically possible to intake food that provides the required amount of nutrients; supplements do the needful in this case.

5. Microneedling therapy

Microneedling is a process that uses a skin roller containing small needles. It is rolled on the scalp that creates wounds. It helps in stimulating collagen production, is thought to improve the
health of hair follicles, thereby promoting hair growth.

Do’s and Don’ts

A. Do’s

1. Consume food items rich in Zinc, Iron, Vitamin B, C, D, and E as these are good for healthy skin and hair. If you can’t take these nutrients, take supplements after consulting a doctor.

2. Staying hydrated is the key to glowing skin and healthy hair. A minimum of 8 glasses of water per day are required for an overall healthy body.

3. Keep stress at bay. Higher stress level leads to more hair loss. You can do exercises, pursue some hobby, or meditate to stay away from stress.

4. Be gentle with your hair while combing. Women shall avoid tight hairstyles because this loosens the bond between hair and scalp.

5. Use natural and mild shampoo for your hair wash and a soft brush with natural fibres to comb your hair. Gentle brushing in one direction helps smoothen and condition your hair.

6. Massage the scalp. It stimulates the hair follicles and hence, strengthens the hair. Use a cotton towel and pat dry your hair. It would prevent excess hair fall.

7. Visit the dermatologist and check out the reason for your hair fall. If you have dandruff, check its type. It could be some scalp disease like scalp psoriasis or seborrhoeic dermatitis.

B. Don’ts

1. Don’t smoke. Smoking not only affects your lungs but overall health, including hair.

2. Don’t use steamy hot water for your hair wash as it dehydrates the hair strands.

3. Don’t make tight ponytails as it may lead to traction alopecia. It is a condition where hair follicles get weakened and that makes the hair growth next to impossible.

4. Don’t use hair styling tools and products that hold your hair all day long. Such products generally contain alcohol that dries the hair and hence, makes the hair weak.

5. Don’t miss hair care. Keep your hair stay away from heat, bleach, and chemical treatment and use a wide-tooth comb.

6. Don’t expose your hair to the sun as UV rays weaken the hair follicles and make the hair brittle, thereby damaging the same to a great extent.

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