What is it?
In a normal healthy person’s scalp about 85% of the hairs are actively growing (anagen hairs) and 15% are resting hairs (telogen hairs). Telogen effluvium is a temporary disorder where the resting hair follicles shed typically after some kind of shock to the system such as illness, surgical operation, accident, childbirth, weight loss or unusual diet, new medications, hormone changes, traveling or changing your environment, or stressful life events. This typically occurs 3-4 months after the shock to the system.
What are the Symptoms?
Increase hair shedding
o excessive hair in your brush,
o falling out on clothing/pillows,
o clogged shower drains
o thinning of a ponytail.
Average normal hair loss per day is 100 hairs, more than this can indicate telogen effluvium.
Typically people do NOT go bald from this condition
Do I need to do any tests as part of the diagnosis?
In most cases the answer is NO as this tends to be a clinical diagnosis
Occasionally your doctor will order blood tests to determine if you have any easily correctable causes of hair shedding.
It is rare to have to do a scalp biopsy for diagnosing this condition
Sometimes your doctor may do a hair pull test to determine how active the condition is.
What are the treatment options available?
This condition is self correcting over time as the shock to the system resolves. Thus no treatment is typically needed except reassurance that things will take time to recover. Scalp hair only grows 1cm/ month so it will take months before your hair resolves completely.
During this time, you should avoid over vigorous combing, brushing and scalp treatments. Ensure a nutritious diet with plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables.
If the issue remains chronic – continues to occur over several months, the following are additional options available for telogen effluvium.
1. Minoxidil 5% foam (Rogaine)
• This is the first approved treatment for promoting hair growth. Although the effect is not very strong, if applied properly, the effect can be beneficial. Many studies have shown that it produces a substantial increase in partially thicker and longer hairs and if your scalp is noticeable this should help minimize this. It does not completely reverse the thinning process however, and must be applied at least once a day for one year before judging if it is working or not.
2. Vitamins/supplements (Viviscal)
• Daily dietary supplement containing marine proteins and polysaccharides, and vitamins like biotin and minerals essential for hair growth taken daily for 8-12 months. 75.3% of patients observed a significant decrease in hair loss and 14.6% of patients showed partial regrowth.
3. Hairpieces and Camouflage techniques
• Wigs, toupees, hair extensions, camouflage products like sprays and hair fibers, tattooing techniques/microblading
• There is a large variety of products available and they are safe and do not harm the hair or accelerate the thinning process in any way.
4. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy
• A newer treatment that is still in the experimental stages where your own blood is removed, spun down in a centrifuge and the platelet rich blood is extracted that contains many growth factors is injected into your scalp over several treatments (minimum of 3) over several months. This is not covered and thus out of pocket expenses will occur.