It can be frightening to notice a thinning ponytail, a receding hairline, or excessive hair shedding in the shower. As a woman experiencing these signs of hair loss (generally referred to as Alopecia) you may feel isolated in your struggle, but you’re certainly not alone. About 40% of all hair loss sufferers are women, and by the age of 50, roughly half of all women will experience some degree of hair loss.
Although there are many things that can cause or affect hair loss: such as stress, weather changes, or medications; according to the American Hair Loss Association, hair loss of any kind is almost always a result of another health condition. In this article, I’d like to shed some light on a specific condition called Telogen Effluvium (TE) which is hair loss around the hairline, temples, and behind the ears, and often a result of a medical event or condition that many women may face within their lifetime.
Before we dive in, let’s familiarize ourselves with normal hair growth phases. A hair growth cycle consists of 3 phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
Anagen – During this phase, the hair grows actively, sometimes lasting for years.
Catagen – During this phase the hair stops growing and separates from its follicle, this process lasts around 10 days.
Telogen – During this phase, the hair follicle rests for two or three months before the hair actually falls out.
The next anagen phase begins when a new hair grows within the same follicle.
Hair loss, or alopecia, is a disruption in the body’s cycle of hair production. If this cycle is disrupted, hair may begin to fall out more quickly than it is able to regenerate, this may lead to symptoms such as overall thinning, a receding hairline, or hair falling out in patches.
Your scalp has around 100,000 hairs that cycle through periods of growing, resting, falling out, and regenerating at any given time, and most people experience losing 50 to 100 strands of hair per day as part of this natural cycle. In the case of Telogen effluvium, a hair loss condition which occurs when a large number of follicles on the scalp enter the resting phase, but the next growth phase does not begin. This causes hair to fall out all over the scalp without new hair growth, and sufferers may lose between 300 to 500 hairs per day, the hair may appear thin, especially at the crown and temples.
Telogen effluvium often begins 6 weeks – 3 months after experiencing a stressful event or developing some form of medical condition. For most women, recovery from this hair loss is possible if the stressful event can be avoided or the condition can be resolved. Conditions that can result in hair loss can vary greatly from person to person, as stress is a subjective experience, however, there are some common causes that you can be aware of and possibly avoid in order to preserve your hair density.
What can trigger Telogen effluvium?
- Rapid weight loss and/or dieting
- Iron, Vitamin D or Vitamin B12 deficiencies
- Hormonal changes
- Pregnancy, Childbirth & Menopause
- Oral contraceptives
- Acne medications such as isotretinoin
- Thyroid issues
How can you Avoid Telogen effluvium?
- Eat a Balanced Diet
- Take Supplements
- Get lots of sleep
- Be Active to De-Stress
- Don’t tie your hair in tight ponytails
- Make lifestyle/ Dietary Changes Slowly
Obviously there are certain stressful life events that simply cannot be avoided, health issues happen, surgery may be needed, medication may be necessary. As long as the trigger can be resolved, there is still room for recovery. There have been many cases where spontaneous hair regrowth happens after a round of medication, causing TE, has been completed.
Telogen effluvium usually lasts around 6 months, if hair loss continues past this time frame then you may be considered to have Chronic Telogen Effluvium (CTE). The cause of this type of hair loss is still unclear to doctors, as it may last for years in some people with seemingly no real underlying cause. If hair doesn’t regrow on its own, your medical professional may be able to offer medication that can help.
If you think that you may be suffering from Chronic Telogen Effluvium or other types of severe hair loss, please see this article on hair regrowth success stories with Minoxidil.
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