Stress-Related Hair Loss

Telogen Effluvium

Hair loss of any kind is disconcerting. Therefore, it’s important to know what kind of hair loss you’re experiencing to identify the proper treatment and set your expectations for regrowth.

In a recent blog, we discussed Hair Loss Prevention for androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness. This is the most common type of hair loss and happens over time based on your genetics. This month we’re taking a deeper dive into the second most common type of hair loss we treat called telogen effluvium which is a sudden loss of a significant amount of hair triggered by a specific event. While androgenic alopecia is progressive, it’s unlikely to stop without considerable effort once you start losing your hair. However, telogen effluvium has a much better prognosis. That said, a good prognosis doesn’t make your hair loss feel any less frustrating! Read on to learn more…

What is telogen effluvium?

Telogen effluvium is temporary hair loss induced by significant stress or a traumatic event like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or serious health issues. In 2020, some people dealt with all of these factors in a condensed timeframe. However, because of the unique growth cycle of the hair on our scalp, telogen effluvium has a delayed effect – generally 3-4 months after the stressful event itself. This can often be confusing to patients as they’re no longer dealing with that particular stressor.

Let’s take a closer look at the hair growth cycle: For the average person, 85% to 90% of the hairs on their head are actively growing (anagen phase), while the other hairs are resting (telogen phase). The average cycle consists of hair being in the anagen phase for 2-4 years, the telogen phase for 2-4 months, and then the loss of that strand of hair which is then replaced with new hair growth. However, if your body undergoes trauma (physical or mental), the hair quickly moves into the telogen phase. When this happens, about 30% of the hairs stop growing and fall out. With telogen effluvium, the patient may lose 300 hairs a day versus the average 100.

How COVID-19 Has Induced Telogen Effluvium

As of August 2020, 27% of patients that are recovering from COVID-19 have reported hair loss. Is this a long-term effect of the virus? Is it related to something else? It’s hard to tell, and at this point, there’s not enough evidence to prove that hair loss is a long-term effect of COVID-19 as there has been an increase in reports of telogen effluvium from people who have not had the virus. So, why are so many people experiencing hair loss whether or not they have had the virus? Stress! The entire nation and even the entire world have been through a lot of stress in the last six months, so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing an increase of patients presenting with telogen effluvium.

What can you do if you’re experiencing telogen effluvium?

Here’s the good news – if a patient is experiencing telogen effluvium, the hair generally returns within 1-2 years. Of course, hair growth is different for everyone, so that the regrowth period could be less or more than the estimated regrowth period, but the most important part is to be patient! Though time is the primary solution, patients can also look into Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy to stimulate the hair follicles and promote growth. Times are tough, but we’ll all get through this together. Keep your stress levels at bay