Saturday, June 2, 2012

Telogen Effluvium

One of my concerns about my upcoming surgery is possible hair loss through Telogen Effluvium.
 Telogen effluvium is temporary hair loss due to shedding of resting or telogen hair after some shock to the system. 
In a normal healthy person's scalp about 85% of the hair follicles are actively growing hair (anagen hair) and 15% are resting hair (telogen hair). A hair follicle usually grows anagen hair for 4 years or so, then rests for about 4 months. The resting or telogen hair has a club or bulb at the tip. A new anagen hair begins to grow under the resting telogen hair and pushes it out.
Normal hair loss is about 100 hairs a day, as a result of the normal scalp hair cycle.
If there is some shock to the system, as many as 70% of the anagen hairs can be precipitated into telogen, thus reversing the usual ratio. 
Some causes of this shock are;
  • Illness, especially if there is fever
  • Surgical operation
  • Accident
  • Childbirth
  • Nervous shock
  • Weight loss or unusual diet
  • Certain medications
  • Discontinuing the contraceptive pill
  • Overseas travel resulting in jetlag
  • Excessive sun exposure

The resting scalp hairs, now in the form of club hairs, remain firmly attached to the hair follicles at first. Approximately 2 months after the shock that the new hairs coming up through the scalp push out the "dead" club hairs and increased hair fall is noticed.At first the fall of club hairs is profuse and a general thinning of the scalp hair may become evident but after several months a peak is reached and hair fall begins to lessen, gradually tapering back to normal over 6-9 months. As the hair fall tapers off the scalp thickens back up to normal, but recovery may be incomplete in some cases.
Because nail and hair growth are under the same influences, an arrest in hair growth is often mirrored in the nails by a groove across them coinciding with the time of the shock to the system. This is called a Beau's line. The time of the shock can be estimated from the fact that a finger nail takes 5 months to grow from the posterior nail fold to the free edge. So if the groove in the nail is half way down the nail then the shock must have been 2 1/2 months ago.
In some patients, hair shedding continues to be intermittently or continuously greater than normal for long periods of time, sometimes for years. The hair cycle appears to be reset so that the anagen period is shortened.
Chronic telogen effluvium often presents in women that actually continue to have quite thick and moderately long hair – this is because they notice the shed hair more than those with finer or shorter hair. Telogen effluvium does not cause complete baldness, although it may unmask a genetic tendency to genetic balding i.e. female or male pattern hair loss  
What is the treatment for telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is self-correcting. It is really not influenced by any treatment that can be given. However, gentle handling of the hair, avoiding over-vigorous combing, brushing and any type of scalp massage are important.
You should also ensure a nutritious diet, with plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables.
The doctor may check your thyroid function, and levels of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid, as any deficiency in these can slow hair growth.
Source: New Zealand Dermatological Society

Yep, you read that right. There is NO treatment for telogen effluvium. I have googled and wikipedia'd and looked for research articles but came up with zilch.  I will continue to take my vitamins, and may also purchase a garlic shampoo but that's about it. I pretty much have to just keep the faith and hope that even if I do experience shedding it won't be so bad as to cause a setback.



  1. I know you are concerned about it, but take your vitamins, try and eat as well as you possibly can (lots of fruits and veggies, sufficient protein) to create the perfect environment for hair growth.

    You could do some research on MSM. There is a lot of talk on the hair boards about MSM increasing the anagen phase of the growth cycle.

    You might just be one of the lucky ones and not see any impact on your hair.

  2. Well I plan on continuing to take my msm as long as my surgeon okays it. In terms of diet I'll be on a liquid diet for some weeks so its gonna take some hard work to make sure I still have a balanced diet. My fingers are crossed that I am one of the lucky ones, so wish me luck!

    1. I agree with Guyanesesista re the green smoothies. I make mine with non dairy milk, spinach, strawberries/blueberries and bananas. You could add peanut butter for protein.

      At least this way you can get a lot of your vitamins and minerals. In any case it is best to eat the rainbow everyday to ensure you get enough nutrients: Foods with the following colours. Red, Yellow/Orange, Purple/Blue, Green and White. It's easy to get a lot of them with the smoothies.

  3. Will green smoothies work? At least that way you'll getting a lot. Good luck with the surgery and recovery. And don't forget about Iron.

  4. This is a really great post!

    You know I have also been looking into the link between general anaesthetic, surgery and hair loss.

    I remember reading whilst I was researching this topic that undergoing a chemical hair dye procedure was not recommended. I guess a chemical dye could considered similar to chemical relaxer in this instance.

    Like Guyanesesista said, don't forget about keeping your iron levels up, especially after the surgery.

    Good luck with your surgery Rana, I know it can be a really stressful time butI bet it will all go perfectly well and to plan. (",)

  5. Great article - very informative! Thanks for posting. Good luck with your surgery - I wish you a speedy and healthy recovery!

  6. You guys have such great suggestions, especially as I completely forgot about keeping an eye on my iron levels. @simplyintomyhair thnx for the tip on the hair dye as I was thinking of doing another rinse in my hair this month. Thank you for the well wishes everyone and I promise to keep you posted on my recovery and sickbed haircare!