Major Causes and What you Can Do About it
“Help! I’ve recently noticed a drastic increase in my hair shedding!”
Not a day goes by as a dermatologist that we don’t hear this very specific, and potentially distressing, complaint. Often, patients complain of more hairs filling their brush, more in the shower drain, and a diffuse thinning throughout their scalp. The vast majority of the time, these symptoms are consistent with a medical condition known as telogen effluvium (TE).
What is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is a condition in which the hair follicles, which normally undergo random shedding, sync their growth cycles, resulting in many follicles shedding their hairs at the same time. In this state, the hairs may fall out from their roots in large numbers.
If there is some shock to the system, as many as 70% of the anagen (growing) hairs can be precipitated into telogen (resting) hairs which are then dislodged from the scalp resulting in 'hair shedding.'
Typical triggers include:
Acute or chronic illness
Weight loss, unusual diet, or nutritional deficiency (iron deficiency)
Endocrine conditions (thyroid)
Hormone changes, including starting or stopping the birth control pill
These triggers can “shock” the hair growth cycle, resulting in a typically predictable order of hair loss followed by regrowth. Classically, the hair shedding begins around three months after the inciting event, followed by three months of excess shedding, and then a three-month recovery period.
How Do We Treat Hair Loss from Telegen Effluvium?
The good news is that most cases of telogen effluvium resolve on their own with time and removal of the inciting event. There are, however, strategies to speed the hair regrowth.
Rogaine 5% foam - (Minoxidil is generic) Topical solution or foam that is applied daily to the scalp. This is an FDA-approved product for male and female pattern hair loss but may help treat a variety of causes of hair shedding. Women should keep the product away from their face to avoid potentially growing facial hair. Rogaine should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Viviscal Pro - 100% Drug-free oral hair growth supplement sold at our office
Toppik Hair Fibers - These are fibers applied to the scalp to give the appearance of hair. These fibers are easy to spray on and INSTANTLY camouflage areas of hair loss. They will not run or wash off with sweat or light rain. Sold at our office.
Stress reduction - Measures such as exercise, meditation, yoga, therapy, relaxation, self-care.
Remember, in most cases, this shedding will resolve on its own, but it may be helpful to treat with some or all of the above recommendations. Most important is to recognize this type of hair loss and correct any underlying stress-related triggers.