Causes Of Telogen Effluvium

Some hair loss conditions are usually termed as “effluvium” which refers to “outflow.” At any given point of time, not all hair follicles on the scalp grow hair. They undergo different phases of growth and rest, known as anagen and telogen, respectively. While 80–90% of the hair follicles on a healthy scalp are in the anagen phase, about 10–20% of the follicles are in the telogen phase, where they do not grow any hair fibre.

Telogen effluvium (TE) is the condition when the number of hair follicles producing and growing the hair reduce significantly. This leads to an increase in the number of follicles in the telogen phase, resulting in diffuse thinning or shedding of hair. The most affected part is usually the upper scalp. According to dermatologists, TE is the second most common form of hair loss observed. Below are the reasons why we see TE in people commonly.

Telogen Effluvium: Causes

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1. Environmental Shock

Environmental Shock

Environmental shock refers to a

sudden change in the body’s environment due to internal or external factors, which shocks the follicles such that they go into a dormant stage. Persistent shock leads to consistent loss of hair.

One classic example of the internal factor is postpartum hair loss, called alopecia. It results due to a sudden decline in the level of hormones after childbirth. There may be a significant loss of hair, which regrow within a quick span of around 6 months.

A physical trauma like a car crash or an exposure to heavy metals are the examples of an external factor. The hair fall, in this case, is also temporary and one regains the hair within few months.

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2. Drug Interactions

Drug Interactions

Certain drugs like antidepressants, antihypertensives, and oral contraceptives can cause temporary TE. In case you are experiencing a hair loss after taking the new medication, speak to your doctor about changing the drug. Often, a change in drug resolves the issue.

A surgery can also

have a similar effect due to the shock the body undergoes, after being subjected to a high dosage of pain killers and antibiotics.

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3. Stress


Dermatologists have found stress to be one of the leading causes of TE. Chronic stress tends to change the biochemistry of the hair follicle in animal models, making the follicles go into the telogen phase. Persistent amounts of stress lead to continuous loss of hair, which take a longer time to regrow.

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4. Dietary Deficiencies

Dietary Deficiencies

A diet deficit in minerals, vitamins, and essential amino acids is another reason for TE. While the meat-eaters are not prone to this condition in most of the cases, vegans and vegetarians are at a greater risk of missing out on a range of amino acids and other essential nutrients.

A deficiency of iron, zinc, vitamin B-12, vitamin-6, and amino acid

lysine specifically leads to TE. Women, particularly, are subjected to iron loss periodically due to menstruation; becoming more susceptible to TE. A crash diet is also one of the reasons which cannot be ignored.

Supplements come as a saviour, however, a higher dosage of iron could be dangerous. Research also shows that an overdose of vitamin-A could be yet another reason for TE. Taking these supplements after consulting with your doctor is suggested.

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5. Underlying Health Conditions

Underlying Health Conditions

Hair follicles are sensitive to thyroid hormones. A disorder of the thyroid gland causes TE in one-third of the affected individuals. Allergic dermatitis which could be induced due to the application of dye is another potent reason.

A TE could also indicate an underlying health condition such as androgenic alopecia, which is the patterned baldness in both men and women. An autoimmune condition called alopecia areata which results in total hair loss is another cause.

Most of the cases of TE are reversible. The only difference

is the time at which the hair regrows. It might range from a few months to years. Identifying the underlying causes mentioned above is the first step to treatment.