Female Hair Loss: What is Telogen Effluvium?

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There are many reasons why women experience female hair loss, but one of the most common causes is telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss, often triggered when the body’s physical or hormonal systems come under a high degree of stress. It can also be due to a reaction to certain types of medication. 

More common in women, telogen effluvium can very quickly worsen in some cases, before improving over the following six months. However, in some rare cases, the condition can become chronic – this is when someone experiences periods of shedding for over six months. 

 

What is telogen effluvium? 

 

As you may know, hair grows in a cycle. It has three phases: the anagen (growth) phase, the catagen phase and the telogen (resting) phase. At any one time, around 15% of a person’s hair will be in the resting phase.  

However, with telogen effluvium, the anagen phase slows, so there are fewer hairs moving into the next two stages. As a result, around 30% of the follicles shift into the telogen phase, which results in noticeable hair loss about three months later, when those hairs are shed. 

The hair loss tends to present as a general thinning out across the scalp. Many people become aware of the hair loss when they notice more hair than normal is shedding when they wash or brush it. 

 

What causes telogen effluvium? 

 

There are a number of factors that may contribute to telogen effluvium. Prolonged periods of stress can be behind hair loss, which will start to shed roughly three months after the stressor. Poor diet and sudden weight loss can also be contributing factors, as can the hormonal fluctuations attributed to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. 

 

How can telogen effluvium be treated? 

 

In order to treat telogen effluvium, the cause must first be identified – there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment for this condition. For example, if malnutrition is a driving factor, the nutritional deficiencies can be addressed to aid hair growth, whereas women who are going through menopause may consider looking into hormone treatments. Your GP or a trichologist will be able to help you identify the reason for your hair loss. 

 

Will my hair grow back? 

 

Once the cause of the hair loss has been addressed, many people find that their hair will grow back within around 3 to 6 months, although this can vary. If you find that you are still struggling with hair loss after addressing other lifestyle factors, there are a number of surgical and non-surgical treatments that can help you. 

Our Surgeon

Dr. Asim Shahmalak

Dr Asim Shahmalak is a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon who performed the UK’s first eyelash transplant in 2009. He runs Crown Clinic – one of Britain’s most successful and best known hair transplant clinics. He has treated a number of high-profile industry leaders and celebrities including the medical broadcaster Dr Christian Jessen, best known for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

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We may pay extra time and money taking care of our hair and planning elaborate skincare routines, but how many of us pay the same attention to our scalps?

Although it’s easy to overlook – after all, many of us don’t really see our scalps – proper scalp care is key to having healthy follicles and healthy hair. Just like the rest of your skin, your scalp can accumulate bacteria, sweat and become clogged.

Why is a healthy scalp important?

Think of your scalp like a flower bed – without healthy soil and proper care, flowers won’t flourish. Similarly, without caring for your scalp you’ll be hindering healthy hair growth. The sebaceous glands in the scalp produce sebum – a natural oil that is meant to protect the skin – via the hair follicles. However, if the follicles aren’t clean and clear of sebum, or are otherwise blocked by dandruff or dead skin, this will have a negative impact on the growth of the hair.

Here is some of Crown Clinic’s top advice for caring for your scalp.

1. Treat dandruff as early as possible

Dandruff – flaking of the scalp – is very common, as the skin is constantly shedding. It’s not a serious condition, but it can be embarrassing to deal with. Try cleansing the scalp regularly with an anti-dandruff shampoo to see if it helps ease the buildup of oil and skin cells. Shampoos containing zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide or ketoconazole are the best options. It may take a few weeks to start noticing a difference and you may need to try a few different shampoos before finding one that works for your scalp.

2. Avoid overusing dry shampoo

Dry shampoo may be great as a quick fix for those days where you don’t have time to wash your hair, but it should be used sparingly. Relying too heavily on dry shampoo can cause a buildup of product on the scalp, which can clog the follicles and trap bacteria, potentially leading to dandruff. If you really must use dry shampoo, ensure you wash your hair as soon as possible with a cleansing shampoo to get rid of the buildup.

3. Treat your hair gently

Overusing harsh shampoos can do more harm than good, so consider switching to sulphate-free shampoos that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils but will still properly cleanse your scalp. As for how often you wash your hair, it depends on personal preference, but generally, we would suggest at least every other day. This is especially true for those who use a lot of product on their hair or sweat more, as the buildup on the scalp can cause itching and flaking.

You can also try using a gentle scalp scrub to exfoliate the skin and unclog the follicles, but make sure to replenish moisture to the lengths of the hair with a conditioner.

4. Avoid tight hairstyles

Traction alopecia is caused by the hair being repeatedly pulled in the same place, leading to irritation, discomfort, hair breakage and potentially long-term damage. Tight hairstyles such as braids can be very harsh on the scalp due to the constant tension, so to avoid this, change your hairstyle regularly and wear it in a looser style if you can’t wear your hair down.

Remember that a healthy scalp leads to healthy hair, so make sure to start adding proper scalp care to your routine.

For many people who lose their hair, it can be a traumatising experience that takes a toll on their self-esteem and wellbeing. As a result, you may wonder what exactly you can do to prevent hair loss. However, the answer is entirely dependent on the type of hair loss.

Preventing genetic hair loss

In most instances, hair loss is genetic. Over the course of their lifetime, two-thirds of men will experience male pattern baldness, with 40% noticing hair loss by the age of 35. Meanwhile, around half of women will experience some type of hair loss at some point in their life.

Although there is no way of preventing genetic hair loss, there are ways of treating it, especially if you seek advice as soon as you start noticing hair loss. Finasteride (Propecia) is a prescription medication that blocks the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that can contribute to hair loss by disrupting the growth cycle. If treatment is started early, Finasteride can be effective at preventing further hair loss. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for this medication, so you’ll need to consult with your GP or a specialist.

Other ways to prevent hair loss

Although there are no guaranteed ways to prevent hair loss, there are ways that you can improve your lifestyle to promote healthy hair growth.

Reducing stress

Stress can be a contributing factor to a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium, which is where hair is shed across the scalp. It happens when the growth phase of the hair cycle is interrupted by a disturbance within the body, causing a large number of hairs to shift into the shedding phase. When we are stressed, our body focuses our energy on only the most essential functions – unfortunately, hair growth is not one of these.

Everyone manages stress differently, so try to find a way of reducing stress that works for you, such as meditation, exercise and getting enough rest.

Cutting out bad habits

A poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can all take a toll on your body, impacting every area of your health. Your diet, in particular, may be contributing towards hair loss, as several deficiencies can cause hair loss, such as iron and vitamin D. Make sure that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as enough protein, as hair follicles are primarily made of a type of protein called keratin.

Looking after your hair

The way that you care for your hair is key to its overall health. Overusing hot tools such as hairdryers, curling irons and straighteners can make the hair dry, brittle and damaged, as well as more prone to breakage. Make sure to only use hot tools when necessary and use a heat protecting spray.

Wash your hair regularly with gentle shampoo and conditioner, avoiding products that are overly harsh and more liable to dry out your hair. To minimise the risk of excessive hair shedding – or even traction alopecia – avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the root of the hair, like tight braids or ponytails.

If you are struggling with hair loss, in many instances, there are both surgical and non-surgical options to treat it – Crown Clinic offers a wide variety of treatments that are sure to bring your hair back to its former glory. Why not book in for a hair consultation to find out the best course of treatment for you?

No matter the cause behind hair loss, it can be an emotionally distressing experience. Even temporary hair loss can be difficult to cope with, due to the toll it can take on a person’s self-esteem – and although many people associate hair loss primarily with older men, it can affect anyone of any age.

Why does hair loss affect our self-esteem?

Whether we realise it or not, our hair does affect our appearance – anyone who has ever ended up with a disastrous haircut can vouch for that. As a result, when people start to lose their hair, it can change the way that they see themselves and have a serious impact on their self-confidence.

Culturally and historically, a thick head of hair has been synonymous with youth, attractiveness and good health. This beauty standard still pervades, so hair loss may lead people to feel unattractive when they start to lose their hair. This is particularly true for women, whose hair is often considered their crowning glory. In fact, a study conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that women are more likely to develop a negative body image as a result of their hair loss compared to men. However, 75% of men also reported they felt less confident about themselves after starting to lose their hair.

It’s not just concerns about self-image, either – many people who experience hair loss may worry about how they are perceived in the workplace, or by romantic partners, as they worry that they will no longer be considered attractive by others.

Can hair loss cause depression?

Hair loss can cause emotional trauma, and the subsequent impact on self-esteem and self-worth can be linked to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. In turn, some of the behaviours associated with depression – such as poor sleeping habits, a poor diet and increased alcohol intake – can make hair loss worse, making it a vicious cycle.

Coping with hair loss

If you are struggling with hair loss, you don’t need to suffer in silence – there are a number of ways to cope with hair loss.

Temporary hair loss

If you are experiencing hair loss caused by factors such as medication, pregnancy or weight loss, remember that the chances are it’s only a temporary form of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. Even if large amounts of hair fall out, the hair usually will grow back – although it can be hard to cope with, remember that it won’t last forever. It may be worth visiting your GP to check if there are any factors contributing to your hair loss.

Talk to someone

For anyone who is struggling with their mental health, it’s worth seeking treatment – there are plenty of professionals who will be able to support you through it. Talking therapies may be especially helpful if you’re finding that the emotional impact of hair loss is getting in the way of your daily life. Speaking to a professional about your struggles can teach you strategies to improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Surgical and non-surgical treatments

There may be no magic cure to hair loss, but there are plenty of treatments available to help restore your hair. From medications such as Propecia and Finasteride, to non-surgical scalp micropigmentation, all the way to permanent solutions such as hair transplants, there is sure to be a treatment to suit you.

Crown Clinic has been working with hair loss patients for years, offering them support and guidance to find a treatment that will work best for them. If you’d like to book a consultation to find out how we can help you, get in touch.