Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium

What is telogen effluvium?

Telogen effluvium is a common cause of temporary hair loss. This excessive shedding of resting (i.e. telogen) hairs usually occurs after some shock to the body. The resting hairs are club shaped at the root. People of all age groups and both sexes can be affected, but longstanding telogen effluvium tends to present in healthy women 30–60 years of age.

What is the cause of telogen effluvium?

In the scalp of a normal healthy person, about 85% of the hair follicles are in the anagen phase – This is the actively growing hair. About 15% are resting hairs. The hair is usually in the growth phase for about 4 years, and then spends 4 months in the resting phase. A new anagen hair forms under the resting telogen hair and then pushes it out. Because of this cycle, it is normal to lose up 100-200 strands of hair per day.

If there is an illness or shock to your system, up to 70% of the hairs can be pushed into the telogen phase. Common triggers include:

  • Sudden illness with high fever
  • Childbirth
  • Surgery
  • Weight loss of extreme dieting
  • Emotional stress
  • Medications
  • Endocrine disorders

How does telogen effluvium present?

Initially, the resting scalp hairs are firmly attached to the scalp. Then as the new hairs form, they push up through the scalp. This results in increased hair loss about 3 months after the triggering event. Up to 50 % of the scalp hair can be affected.  In telogen effluvium, the hair loss is not patchy. Instead it presents as diffuse thinning of hair all over the scalp. After several months, hair loss lessens, and the hair begins to thicken back. Recovery may be incomplete in some cases.

In some people, the hair shedding may last for many months- even years. In these cases of chronic telogen effluvium, it seems that the hair cycle has been reset with a much shorter growth phase. While telogen effluvium does not cause complete baldness, it can unmask other forms of hair loss, like male or female pattern hair loss.


Is there treatment for telogen effluvium?

This condition usually resolves on its own over many months. Things you can do at home include:

  • Gentle hair grooming practices- avoiding over-combing or tight hairstyles.
  • Eat a nutritious balanced diet, with fruit, vegetables and protein.
  • Treat any underlying hormonal problem or scalp disorder.
  • Schedule a consultation with a dermatologist for further treatment.


If you have hair loss, contact the Hair and Scalp Center at Eternal Dermatology now! Our board-certified dermatologist and hair loss expert can help you.


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