Physical or psychological stress can cause hair to enter a state known as telogen effluvium.
This condition occurs when the normal cycle of growth is disrupted and the scalp follicles enter into a resting stage. Patients who have telogen effluvium may lose an average of 300 hairs a day instead of 100.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is a hair loss condition that can result from an emotional trauma such as personal loss, physiological distress, sudden or extreme weight loss, surgery, metabolic instabilities.
Hair typically grows back once the condition that prompted telogen effluvium corrects itself. The disproportionate shedding of hair leads to a decrease in the total number of hairs.
The condition can be acute or chronic. If hair loss lasts more than six months, telogen effluvium can be diagnosed as chronic. Women mostly experience chronic telogen effluvium hair loss, occurring only in the scalp hair. Teleogen effluvium may also affect newborns and babies.
Symptoms of Telogen Effluvium
If you are experiencing telogen effluvium, you will notice more hair than usual is left on your pillowcase, on the shower or bathroom floor or in your hairbrush.
You scalp hair may feel or look less dense than usual. Often, the hair loss is subtle and goes unnoticed.
Causes of Telogen Effluvium
- Crash diets
- High fever
- Eating disorders
- Iron deficiency
- Severe chronic illness
- Extreme infection
- Psychological stress
Diagnosing Telogen Effluvium
Most cases of telogen effluvium can be diagnosed based on medical history and examination of the scalp and hair. If the hair loss has been occurring for several months, hair transplant doctors will be able to notice visible thinning patches.
On the other hand, often the hair loss is not severe enough for a doctor to take notice.
In order to detect if you have telogen effluvium or not; your doctor may ask you to gather all hairs that fall out of your head over a 24-hour period and count them to see if the hair loss is progressive. Losing fewer than 100 hairs in a day is considered normal.
To ensure accuracy of diagnosis, a biopsy of the scalp can be conducted. During the biopsy procedure of telogen effluvium condition, a small piece of the scalp encompassing several hair follicles is removed and examined under a microscope.
The doctor may also run some blood tests to check for conditions such as thyroid abnormalities that contribute to hair loss.
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