Female Hair Loss: What is Telogen Effluvium?

There are many reasons why women may experience female hair loss, but one of the most common causes is telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss that is often triggered by the body’s physical or hormonal reactions to stress. Telogen effluvium can also be caused by certain types of medication.  

More common in women, telogen effluvium can cause sudden, noticeable hair loss that gradually improves over the subsequent six months. However, in some rare cases, the condition can become chronic, causing sufferers to experience shedding for a longer period of time. 

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, diffuse thinning out across the scalp. Many people become aware of the hair loss when they spot more hair has fallen out than usual when they wash or brush it. 

What causes telogen effluvium?

There are several reasons why telogen effluvium may occur. Stress is a common cause of hair loss, as it can push the hair follicles into the resting phase prematurely, although the hair loss will only be apparent around three months after the stress occurs. 

Poor diet and sudden weight loss can also be contributing factors for telogen effluvium, as can the hormonal fluctuations attributed to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.  


How can telogen effluvium be treated?

In order to effectively treat telogen effluvium, the cause must first be identified – there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment for this condition. For example, if poor nutrition is a driving factor, the nutritional deficiencies can be addressed to aid hair growth.  

On the other hand, women who are going through menopause may consider looking into hormonal treatments. Your GP or a trichologist will be able to help you identify the reason for your hair loss and how to successfully treat it. 


Will my hair grow back?

Once the root cause of the telogen effluvium 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.