What Is Telogen Effluvium?

 

Is it me, or has life been getting more hectic as the years go by? Life and personal stresses stacking up on each other to a point where it can feel like a little too much. Collecting and dealing with all kinds of stress can have a significant toll on your body - including your hair. Telogen effluvium is one such condition that has been shown to occur when the body experiences something that’s so overwhelming, functions in the body change and potentially cause harm - like hair loss.  

 

What Is Telogen Effluvium? 

 

Although the evidence isn't quite clear yet, there are some leading ideas on what is going on. Experiencing stress causes your body to release chemicals to combat whatever may be happening to the body. The amount that is released is related to how severe the stress is. If the stress is extreme, it may cause a chemical imbalance to occur in the body which can effect the telogen phase of hair growth. The telogen phase, also known as the resting phase, accounts 6-10% of your hair at any given moment.  

 

There are 5 types of telogen effluvium: immediate anagen release, delayed anagen release, immediate telogen release, delayed telogen release and short anagen phase.  

 

Immediate Anagen Release 

A common type of telogen effluvium, this occurs when there is so much stress that the body undergoes a fever. This fever causes your hair follicles to initiate apoptosis, or forceful destruction, which kills off your hair follicles causing hair loss. 

 

Delayed Anagen Release 

After child birth, a high level of estrogen extends the anagen phase during pregnancy. During delivery, the sudden hormonal changes cause the anagen hair to transition into the resting phase later than usual. A few months after delivery, you may experience an increase in shedding. 

 

Immediate Telogen Release 

Hair that is currently resting in the exogen phase is prematurely released, potentially due to stress, and begins the anagen phase early. This ends the telogen phase immediately which results in hair shedding.  

 

Delayed Telogen Release 

This occurs when stress potentially prolongs your hair follicles in the telogen phase when it should begin to shed starting the anagen phase. This form of telogen effluvium is more expected, and isn't as severe as the others on this list. It usually occurs to the body responding to daylight - especially during seasonal transitions. 

 

Short Anagen Phase 

Although not completely explained, the anagen phase is shortened due to an unknown reason. Can come about from different sources for different reasons. Research into this phenomena is sparse, but it has been observed to occur from specific diseases.  

 

 

What Can Cause Telogen Effluvium  

 

Life Stresses 

Complications in our own lives can potentially lead to telogen effluvium, depending on the severity of such stress and how your body reacts to it. It may seem like the world is getting more complicated and stressful. If possible, we recommend practicing mindful activities, like yoga or taking walks to ease what's both in and on your mind.  

 

Pregnancy  

The physical toll your body endures during child birth can potentially lead to telogen effluvium. The extreme fluctuations of stress and hormones experienced alter the phases that go into hair growth and cause shedding to occur prematurely. Hair usually returns back to normal growth patterns shortly after experiencing such stress.  

 

Surgery  

Post-surgery telogen effluvium is rather common. It interferes with your body's hair growth phases, much like in pregnancy. However, pregnancy is a natural process that the body undergoes - surgery isn't. To the body, surgery is seen as an "invasive" action, so your immune system tries it's hardest to prevent damage - even if the surgeons are doing everything safely. This causes your body to undergo stress which can lead to telogen effluvium.  

 

Telogen Effluvium versus Androgenetic alopecia. 

 

When discussing different forms of alopecia, the two most common conditions are telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia. As we discussed earlier, telogen effluvium is hair loss that can be caused by a traumatic event to the body. The effects of telogen effluvium can be amplified by something like genetics, but hair loss that directly comes from genetics is known as androgenetic alopecia.   

 

Symptoms And Treatment Of Telogen Effluvium.  

 

Although there are several forms of telogen effluvium, the symptoms are all the same: hair loss to varying degrees. Some forms may last for several weeks, others can last for months.  

 

There is not treatment for telogen effluvium, as it is usually temporary and your hair will return to normal eventually. If not, then there might be some more underlying issues beyond telogen effluvium.