Understanding Telogen Effluvium: Causes, Symptoms, Management, and Outlook

Table of Contents

What is Telogen Effluvium?

Excessive hair shedding is a typical characteristic of telogen effluvium, which occurs when a significant number of hair follicles simultaneously transition into the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. This disruption leads to increased hair shedding and a noticeable thinning of the hair.

What's the Difference between Acute Telogen Effluvium and Chronic Telogen Effluvium?

Acute telogen effluvium refers to a temporary form of hair shedding that occurs as a response to a sudden trigger, such as physical or emotional stress, illness, surgery, or medication. On the other hand, chronic telogen effluvium refers to a long-term or recurrent condition in which hair shedding persists for an extended period, typically longer than six months.

Who Does Telogen Effluvium Affect?

Telogen effluvium is a condition that can impact individuals of all ages and both sexes. It is more commonly observed in women, especially after childbirth, but it can also occur in men and children. Certain factors, such as hormonal changes, underlying medical conditions, and stress, can increase the risk of developing telogen effluvium.

How Common is Telogen Effluvium?

Telogen effluvium is a relatively common condition. It is estimated that around 30% to 50% of people may experience telogen effluvium at some point in their lives. It can occur as an isolated episode or become a recurrent issue for some individuals.

How Does Telogen Effluvium Affect My Body?

Telogen effluvium affects the hair growth cycle, leading to excessive shedding of hair. It does not cause permanent hair loss but rather disrupts the normal balance between hair growth and hair shedding. As a result, affected individuals may notice a significant increase in hair shedding and a reduction in hair volume.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the Symptoms of Telogen Effluvium?

The primary symptom of telogen effluvium is increased hair shedding. This shedding is often more noticeable while washing or brushing the hair. Individuals may observe clumps of hair in the shower drain or on their hairbrush. The hair thinning is typically diffuse, meaning it occurs evenly across the scalp rather than in specific areas.

What Triggers Telogen Effluvium?

Telogen effluvium can be triggered by various factors, including physical or emotional stress, illness or surgery, significant weight loss, hormonal changes (such as postpartum hormonal fluctuations), certain medications, nutritional deficiencies, and chronic conditions such as thyroid disorders.

Is Telogen Effluvium Contagious?

No, telogen effluvium is not contagious. It is a non-communicable condition that results from internal factors within the body rather than external contagion.

How is Telogen Effluvium Diagnosed?

Diagnosing telogen effluvium typically involves a comprehensive medical history review and a physical examination by a healthcare professional. They may ask about recent medical events, lifestyle changes, and medication usage and perform a thorough examination of the scalp and hair. In some cases, additional tests or blood work may be done to rule out other underlying causes of hair loss.

Management and Treatment

How is Telogen Effluvium Treated?

In most cases, telogen effluvium does not require specific treatment as it often resolves on its own once the underlying trigger is addressed or the body recovers. However, if the hair shedding persists or causes significant distress, certain management strategies may be employed.

What Medications/Treatments Are Used to Treat Telogen Effluvium?

There are no specific medications or treatments approved specifically for telogen effluvium. However, some healthcare professionals may recommend topical minoxidil, which is an over-the-counter medication commonly used for androgenic alopecia (pattern hair loss), to help promote hair regrowth and reduce shedding. Additionally, addressing any underlying medical conditions, maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress, and adopting good hair care practices can support the recovery of hair growth.

How Long Does Telogen Effluvium Last?

The duration of telogen effluvium varies among individuals. In most cases, the condition lasts for about six months, after which hair growth resumes and shedding subsides. However, for some individuals, telogen effluvium can persist or recur, leading to longer periods of hair shedding.

Will My Hair Grow Back After Telogen Effluvium?

Yes, hair typically grows back after telogen effluvium. Once the underlying trigger or condition is resolved, the hair follicles re-enter the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, and normal hair growth resumes. However, it may take several months for the hair to fully regrow and for the individual to notice a significant improvement in hair volume.


How Can I Reduce My Risk of Developing Telogen Effluvium?

While telogen effluvium may not always be preventable, adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing stress levels can help reduce the risk. Some strategies to consider include maintaining a balanced diet, managing stress through relaxation techniques or therapy, avoiding excessive hair manipulation or styling, and addressing underlying medical conditions promptly.


What Can I Expect if I Have Telogen Effluvium?

Most individuals with telogen effluvium can expect their hair to gradually return to its normal growth pattern and thickness. Hair shedding typically subsides, and the scalp regains its fullness as the hair follicles recover. However, the timeframe for complete recovery can vary, and it is important to be patient as hair regrowth can take several months

Q & A

What's the Difference Between Telogen Effluvium and Androgenic Alopecia?

Telogen effluvium and androgenic alopecia (also known as pattern hair loss) are two different conditions with distinct causes and characteristics. Telogen effluvium is a temporary hair-shedding condition that occurs due to external triggers or internal changes in the body, such as stress or hormonal fluctuations. On the other hand, androgenic alopecia is a hereditary condition characterized by progressive hair thinning, typically starting at the temples or crown of the head, and is not associated with excessive shedding.

Can Telogen Effluvium be Permanent?

No, telogen effluvium is typically a temporary condition, and the hair loss it causes is reversible. Once the underlying trigger or condition is resolved, the hair follicles regain their normal functioning, and hair growth resumes.

Can Telogen Effluvium Cause Baldness?

Telogen effluvium is generally not associated with permanent baldness. Telogen effluvium results in temporary hair shedding without causing permanent harm to the hair follicles. With proper management and addressing the underlying cause, the hair typically regrows.

Can Telogen Effluvium Recur?

Yes, telogen effluvium can recur in some individuals. It is possible to experience episodes of hair shedding followed by periods of normal hair growth. Recurrence may happen if the underlying triggers persist or if new triggers or stressors are introduced.

Is Telogen Effluvium More Common in Women or Men?

Telogen effluvium can occur in both women and men. However, it is more commonly reported in women, possibly due to hormonal fluctuations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause. Men can also experience telogen effluvium, often related to factors such as stress, illness, or medication use.

Can Emotional Stress Cause Telogen Effluvium?

Yes, emotional stress is one of the common triggers for telogen effluvium. Excessive shedding of hair can occur when significant emotional stressors, such as a traumatic event, emotional upheaval, or prolonged periods of stress, disrupt the hair growth cycle.

Can Medications Cause Telogen Effluvium?

Yes, certain medications can trigger telogen effluvium as a side effect. Medications such as beta-blockers, anticoagulants, retinoids, and some antidepressants have been associated with hair shedding. However, not everyone who takes these medications will experience telogen effluvium, and the condition is often temporary.

Can Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Telogen Effluvium?

Yes, nutritional deficiencies, particularly deficiencies in iron, zinc, biotin, and other essential vitamins and minerals, can contribute to telogen effluvium. Maintaining a balanced diet that provides sufficient nutrients is crucial for promoting healthy hair growth and reducing the likelihood of developing telogen effluvium.

Can Telogen Effluvium Be Prevented During Pregnancy?

While telogen effluvium triggered by pregnancy is often considered a normal physiological response, certain measures can help minimize excessive hair shedding. Maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress, and following proper hair care practices during pregnancy can support overall hair health and minimize the impact of telogen effluvium.

Is Telogen Effluvium Linked to Underlying Health Conditions?

Telogen effluvium can be associated with various underlying health conditions, such as thyroid disorders, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, and chronic illnesses. It is important to identify and address these underlying conditions to effectively manage telogen effluvium and promote hair regrowth.

Is Telogen Effluvium a Sign of Hair Thinning?

Telogen effluvium can cause noticeable hair shedding and thinning, but it is not the same as chronic hair thinning conditions like androgenic alopecia. Telogen effluvium is characterized by temporary hair shedding from all over the scalp, while hair thinning conditions typically involve progressive, long-term thinning in specific patterns.

Can Telogen Effluvium Cause Scalp Itching or Irritation?

Telogen effluvium itself does not typically cause scalp itching or irritation. However, if the underlying trigger of telogen effluvium, such as a scalp infection or dermatitis, is associated with itching or irritation, it is possible to experience these symptoms alongside hair shedding.

Can Telogen Effluvium Impact Eyebrow and Eyelash Hair?

Yes, telogen effluvium can affect eyebrow and eyelash hair as well. Similar to scalp hair, the hair follicles in the eyebrows and eyelashes can enter the telogen phase due to triggers or underlying factors, leading to shedding and temporary thinning in these areas.

Can Telogen Effluvium Cause Hair Breakage?

Telogen effluvium is primarily characterized by excessive hair shedding rather than hair breakage. However, if the hair is weakened or damaged due to certain practices or conditions, it may be more prone to breakage during the shedding phase of telogen effluvium.

Can Telogen Effluvium Cause Patchy Hair Loss?

Patchy hair loss is not typically associated with telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium generally results in diffuse hair shedding throughout the scalp rather than localized bald patches. If patchy hair loss occurs, other conditions like alopecia areata should be considered.

Can Telogen Effluvium Be Triggered by Hairstyling Practices?

Excessive or harsh hairstyling practices, such as tight ponytails, braids, weaves, or using hot styling tools, can potentially contribute to hair breakage or traction alopecia. However, these practices are unlikely to directly trigger telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is usually caused by internal factors or systemic disruptions.

Can Telogen Effluvium Result from Weight Loss or Dietary Changes?

Significant weight loss, particularly when accompanied by inadequate nutrition or extreme dietary changes, can potentially trigger telogen effluvium. Extreme calorie restriction or inadequate nutrient intake can disturb the normal hair growth cycle, resulting in excessive hair shedding.


In summary, telogen effluvium is a condition characterized by temporary hair shedding, which can be caused by factors such as stress, hormonal changes, medications, and underlying medical conditions. It is crucial for individuals experiencing excessive hair shedding and temporary hair thinning to have an understanding of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and available treatment options. Seeking medical advice and guidance from healthcare professionals is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of telogen effluvium. With proper care, support, and patience, individuals can navigate through this temporary phase and restore their hair to its normal growth cycle and appearance.


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