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Female Hair Loss: What is Telogen Effluvium?

POSTED: 07 April 2012

There are many reasons why women experience female hair loss, but one of the most common causes is telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss, often triggered when the body’s physical or hormonal systems come under a high degree of stress. It can also be due to a reaction to certain types of medication. 

More common in women, telogen effluvium can very quickly worsen in some cases, before improving over the following six months. However, in some rare cases, the condition can become chronic – this is when someone experiences periods of shedding for over six months. 


What is telogen effluvium? 


As you may know, hair grows in a cycle. It has three phases: the anagen (growth) phase, the catagen phase and the telogen (resting) phase. At any one time, around 15% of a person’s hair will be in the resting phase.  

However, with telogen effluvium, the anagen phase slows, so there are fewer hairs moving into the next two stages. As a result, around 30% of the follicles shift into the telogen phase, which results in noticeable hair loss about three months later, when those hairs are shed. 

The hair loss tends to present as a general thinning out across the scalp. Many people become aware of the hair loss when they notice more hair than normal is shedding when they wash or brush it. 


What causes telogen effluvium? 


There are a number of factors that may contribute to telogen effluvium. Prolonged periods of stress can be behind hair loss, which will start to shed roughly three months after the stressor. Poor diet and sudden weight loss can also be contributing factors, as can the hormonal fluctuations attributed to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. 


How can telogen effluvium be treated? 


In order to treat telogen effluvium, the cause must first be identified – there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment for this condition. For example, if malnutrition is a driving factor, the nutritional deficiencies can be addressed to aid hair growth, whereas women who are going through menopause may consider looking into hormone treatments. Your GP or a trichologist will be able to help you identify the reason for your hair loss. 


Will my hair grow back? 


Once the cause of the hair loss has been addressed, many people find that their hair will grow back within around 3 to 6 months, although this can vary. If you find that you are still struggling with hair loss after addressing other lifestyle factors, there are a number of surgical and non-surgical treatments that can help you. 

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