How does hair grow?
There are three distinct phases of hair growth: anagen (growing phase), catagen (resting phase), and telogen (shedding phase). At a given time approximately 85-90% of the scalp hairs are in the anagen phase while 10-15% are within the telogen phase. It is normal to shed anywhere from 50-100 hair per day.
What is telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium occurs when there is a shift in the normal physiologic state of the body causing more hairs to shift into the telogen (shedding) phase. There are numerous triggers for the condition. Often times the shedding does not begin until 3 months from the initial insult. Below is a list of some of the common causes for telogen effluvium.
- Delivery of baby
- Severe infection or chronic illness
- Major surgery
- Severe, prolonged psychological stress
- Thyroid or other hormone abnormalities
- Diet and weight loss
- Anemia or Vitamin D deficiency
How is telogen effluvium diagnosed?
The diagnosis is often made clinically given a history of diffuse hair shedding affecting the entire scalp and the presence of one of the above causes. However, a cause may not always be identified, necessitating additional studies as bloodwork and a scalp biopsy if the condition is chronic.
How is telogen effluvium treated?
In a majority of cases the condition resolves within 6 months from its onset assuming that the initial trigger has been treated or resolved. In a small portion of patients the condition may become chronic. In these cases the inciting trigger is unknown or the patient has a chronic severe illness causing telogen effluvium. For patients who have chronic telogen effluvium, minoxidil may be recommended by your physician to stimulate hair-regrowth.