Telogen Effluvium & Hair Loss

A common misconception about male-/female-pattern baldness is that stress increases your likelihood of future balding when in reality stress does not affect the body’s DHT levels. Although this myth of hair loss is not technically true of androgenetic alopecia, stress is the leading cause of another form of hair loss called telogen effluvium. This is a condition brought on by extreme stress, sudden change like extensive weight loss, or even childbirth.  There is no pattern or patchy loss of hair in telogen effluvium; instead, there is a general shedding or thinning of the hair, which generally occurs months after the initial shock which caused the hair loss happened. 

How does this occur?

Telogen effluvium is related to the cyclical nature of hair growth which has two phases: anagen and telogen.  In simple terms, the anagen phase is the hair’s growth cycle and the telogen phase is its restive or hibernation cycle. During the anagen stage, which can last for three years in individual hairs, the hairs grow and force old, resting hairs out of their follicles. In contrast, telogen generally only lasts for three months and on average only about 15% of the total amount of hairs on your head at any given moment is in their resting phase.  A sudden shock to the system can jolt the hair growth phases causing more hairs than usual to go into a telogen-state of hibernation. Three months after the shock, when the anagen cycle begins again, a larger proportion of hairs than normally shed after a resting cycle are sloughed off, causing temporary hair loss. Most people have experienced this type of shedding and the process generally rights its self within the next anagen/telogen cycle if the stress has subsided.

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Guide to the Causes of Hair Loss