Everyone loses some scalp hairs everyday. That's normal and usually not very noticeable. But there's a frightening form of very rapid hair loss that causes 30%, or even up to 50% of your hair to shed in just a few weeks. It's called Telogen effluvium. And today, I'll tell you why it occurs and what you can do.
In other DermTV episodes, I've mentioned that most people normally lose 100 to 150 scalp hairs daily. But even if you see some of those hairs in the shower drain, the good news is your hair isn't thinning because you grow the same number of new hairs as you lose, every day, maintaining the status quo.
But very rapid frightening hair loss resulting in visible thinning of your scalp hair occurs in a condition called Telegen Effluvium. It results from a resetting of the scalp hair growth cycle. In this case, instead of 5 to 15% of the hair follicles being in the resting phase... and it's the hairs in the resting phase that normally shed... instead of 5 to 15%, 30 to 40, or even 50% of the follicles enter the resting phase at the same time. As a result, all of those hairs are shed synchronously 2 to 3 months later causing massive, rapid hair loss.
But don't despair! The follicles aren't damaged. They're just sleeping. And just as 30 to 50% went to sleep at the same time, that same 30 to 50% will wake up and start re-growing at the same time as well. So 6 to 8 months later, there won't be any net hair loss. All the fallen hairs will have regrown! Of course, this takes patience and faith! And I often recommend topical minoxidil for women and propecia pills for men during that time, just to help the regrowth.
The most common cause of Telegen Effluvium is childbirth... in which case it's called postpartum alopecia. So predictably in the 3rd or 4th month after giving birth, many women experience this frightening but temporary hair loss. Other causes include high fevers, any surgery involving general anesthesia, very rapid weight loss from severe calorie restriction from a crash diet, emotional disorders, and severe stress.
Telogen effluvium can affect hair on all parts of the body, but, generally, only the loss of scalp hair is symptomatic or clinically noticeable.
If you experience significant and rapid hair loss 3 to 4 months after one of the causes I just mentioned, shampoo regularly and at least try over the counter topical minoxidil. For reassurance, see your dermatologist.
And for the brave of heart, just keep the faith!