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  5. How To Stop Hair From Shedding Due To Telogen Effluvium?

Have you been noticing excessive hair fall after a stressful or traumatic phase you went through recently? You could be having telogen effluvium. No, it is not as scary as it sounds! However, we do understand that hair loss, especially after a shock, can take a toll on your mental health and add up to more stress.

This is why we are here for your rescue. Hair loss from telogen effluvium is absolutely reversible. We will tell you how. Keep reading.

What Is Telogen Effluvium?

Telogen effluvium [1] is a hair loss condition that is often a result of a stress or trauma. Hair may fall out in large clumps, but it can grow back after a certain period. It is normal to lose 50-100 strands in a day. But anything above this is considered abnormal. Telogen effluvium, unlike alopecia, is a reversible hair loss condition.

Let us understand the three phases of the hair cycle first. [2]

1. Anagen Or Growth Phase

This is the phase where hair grows out from the roots and lasts upto 3-7 years.

2. Catagen Or Transitional Phase

The hair is in slow growth phase and the follicle shrinks. This is usually only for 2-4 months.

3. Telogen Or Resting Phase

The old hair falls out and gives way for new hair to emerge from the roots.

Generally, at any given time, 5-10% of hair is in the telogen or resting phase. But in telogen effluvium, 30% of hair moves into the telogen phase and refuses to shift to the other two phases.

There are two types of telogen effluvium:

1. Chronic Telogen Effluvium

In chronic telogen effluvium, a person may experience hair shedding that lasts upto 6 months or more. Telogen effluvium is more common in women.

2. Acute Telogen Effluvium

Acute telogen effluvium is a hair loss condition that can remain for less than 6 months.

How To Identify Telogen Effluvium?

The most obvious symptom of telogen effluvium [3] is an increased hair fall. You may notice large amounts of hair falling out while brushing or washing. The top of the scalp is the most affected area.

A physical examination of the scalp and a medical history can help diagnose telogen effluvium. There will be visible patches of thinning hair if the hair fall started a few months ago.

The gentle hair pull test gives at least two hair strands with each pull. A wash test can be performed to count the number of strands lost during a wash. A blood test can determine if the hair loss is due to iron deficiency [4] or thyroid.

Consult your doctor to diagnose telogen effluvium.

Telogen Effluvium Causes

A variety of factors can trigger a disturbance in the normal hair cycle.

  • Stress, shock or trauma - A prolonged relationship stress, death of a family or any other traumatic event in life can trigger hair follicles to remain in the resting phase or telogen phase.

  • Pregnancy and childbirth - During pregnancy, you pop a lot of vitamin supplements and your hair is in a growth phase. Due to hormonal changes after childbirth, hair enters the telogen phase. This kind of hair loss is called postpartum telogen effluvium.

  • Menopause - Menopause [5] is another triggering factor because of the hormonal changes during this period.

  • Poor diet - If you are deprived of vitamins (A, B, D, K and E), minerals (zinc, iron) and protein [6], your hair may enter the telogen phase. Imbalanced diet can also lead to telogen effluvium.

  • Certain drugs - The ingredients in some medications or drugs can hamper the hair cycle and push the hair follicles into the telogen phase.

  • Surgery - Surgery means some amount of mental stress, poor diet and medications. All these directly contribute to telogen effluvium.

  • Underlying medical conditions - Autoimmune disorders [7], where the body attacks its own hair follicles, conditions that affect the thyroid gland and alopecia areata may be causing telogen effluvium. Autoimmune disorder itself can’t be cured or reversed, but can be managed.

Telogen Effluvium Treatment

Once the triggers of telogen effluvium are rectified, hair can grow back with the following solutions:

1. Correcting Nutritional Deficiencies Through Diet

Increase your intake of protein, vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron. Foods that are enriched with nutrients for hair include eggs, dairy, omega-3 fatty acids [8], nuts, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, berries and so on.

2. Opt For Gentle Hair Care

Switch to gentle hair care that suits your hair. Say no to toxic ingredients like sulfates [9], parabens, alcohols, fragrances, dyes, etc. in shampoos and conditioners. Keep heat styling like straightening, blow drying and curling for special occasions. Visit salons less frequently for your dyeing, perming or bleaching sessions.

3. OTC Medication

OTC (over the counter) products can be used for hair regrowth. Minoxidil (5% strength ) [10] can be applied on the scalp during the night. It functions by prolonging the anagen or growth phase of hair.

4. Hormone Replacement Therapy

Menopause decreases the level of female hormones in the body. Hormone replacement therapy [11] aims to replace them. Talk to your doctor before you think of hormone replacement therapy as it can leave side effects like breast swelling, bloating, nausea, headaches and mood swings.

5. Management Of Stress

Turn to healthy ways to manage stress. Yoga asanas, pranayama or breathing exercises and meditation are all safest bets.

Telogen Effluvium Diet

Nutrient

Foods

Vitamin A

Carrots, spinach, milk, eggs, yogurt, cod liver oil, red pepper, broccoli, peas, apricot, pumpkin.

Vitamin E

Nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, vegetable oil, wheat germ, spinach, kale, and almonds.

Vitamin B7

Almonds, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, peanuts, walnuts, milk, salmon, cereals, avocados, raspberries.

Vitamin C

Citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, spinach, cabbage, brussels sprouts, guava, parsley.

Vitamin D

Mushrooms, grains, fortified juices, fish, low-fat fortified milk.

Protein

Eggs, meat, fish, tofu, yogurt, cottage cheese, legumes, nuts, whole grains.

Iron

Meat, spinach, oyster, chicken, green leafy vegetables, fish and legumes.

Zinc

Nuts, pumpkin seeds, beef, eggs, dairy, meat, shellfish, legumes, potatoes, green beans, dark chocolate and whole grains.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Telogen Effluvium?

Telogen effluvium is a self correcting condition, meaning it can resolve itself in 3-6 months. If triggers like stress, diet or hormonal imbalances are normalized, telogen effluvium can be cured. After a period of six months, the hair enters the anogen or growth phase. You can grow hair and expect a full recovery in about 6-12 months.

Telogen Effluvium Vs Male Pattern Baldness

Telogen effluvium is different from androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness [12]. In male pattern baldness, one experiences extreme hair loss that is generally irreversible. In telogen effluvium, about 30% of hair only goes to the telogen or resting phase, which is temporary. It resolves on its own in the span of six months.

Can You Go Bald From Telogen Effluvium?

One does not go completely bald in telogen effluvium. There are only thinning patches in one or more spots on the scalp. Only 30% of hair enters the telogen or resting phase, causing hair fall. The other 70% is still in the growth phase and transitional phase.

Wrapping Up

Telogen effluvium is the second biggest cause of hair loss in people, according to dermatologists. There is no medical treatment as such since it is a temporary hair loss condition. Lifestyle changes and dietary changes can stop the unusual shedding of hair. However, do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis.

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