Understanding Telogen Effluvium: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options


Have you noticed more hair in your brush lately? Telogen effluvium is a common form of hair loss that could be the culprit. This blog will unwrap what telogen effluvium means, its symptoms, and how you can tackle it head-on to regain your luscious locks.

Stay with us to unravel the secrets for healthier hair!

Key Takeaways

  • Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss where stress or shock causes more hairs to enter the resting phase and shed, leading to thinning across the entire scalp.
  • Women between 30 and 60 years old, new mothers, people recovering from illness or surgery, those under emotional stress, and individuals with certain dietary deficiencies are more susceptible to this condition.
  • Symptoms include noticeable increase in daily hair shedding, visible thinning patches on the head, and positive hair pull tests. Emotional distress may accompany these physical changes.
  • Common causes range from physiological stresses like illness and diet changes to emotional stresses and nutritional deficiencies. Certain medications can also trigger this type of hair loss.
  • Treatments for telogen effluvium include over-the-counter options like minoxidil as well as prescription drugs; other strategies involve improving nutrition, managing stress levels, using low-level laser therapy (LLLT), regular scalp massages, stress management techniques such as yoga or meditation.


Understanding Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium is a condition where hair sheds prematurely during the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle. This can result in diffuse hair thinning and is categorized as either acute or chronic based on the duration of shedding.


Definition of Telogen Effluvium


Telogen effluvium is a form of non-scarring alopecia characterized by temporary and diffuse hair shedding. Typically triggered by a disturbance to the normal hair cycle, it forces more hairs into the telogen phase, which is the resting stage before hair falls out.

This disruption can lead to widespread thinning as a large number of hairs simultaneously enter this phase and subsequently shed.

People often notice this condition when handfuls of hair begin coming out while brushing or washing their scalp. It’s important not to confuse telogen effluvium with other types of hair loss like androgenetic alopecia or anagen effluvium; those conditions have different underlying causes and patterns of shedding.

Telogen effluvium usually results from severe stress or body changes and typically resolves on its own once the stressor is removed or managed.


Acute versus Chronic Telogen Effluvium


Now that we’ve defined telogen effluvium, let’s delve into the differences between its acute and chronic forms.


Aspect Acute Telogen Effluvium Chronic Telogen Effluvium
Duration Less than six months More than six months
Hair Regrowth High likelihood of normal hair density return Can expect good cosmetic outcome, continued shedding possible
Trigger Often a single identifiable event or stressor Persistent or recurrent factors
Symptoms Sudden shedding of hair Prolonged shedding with diffuse thinning
Management Often self-resolving with removal of trigger May require ongoing management and treatment


Who is at Risk of Developing Telogen Effluvium?

Certain people are more likely to experience telogen effluvium, a condition where hair falls out after stress to the body or mind. Women, especially those aged between 30 and 60 years old, may notice increased shedding due to hormonal changes that can trigger the condition.

Hormonal shifts after giving birth can also cause postpartum hair loss, making new mothers particularly vulnerable.

Stress plays a major role in telogen effluvium onset as well; those dealing with emotional upheavals or psychological stress might find themselves facing this temporary but distressing issue.

Additionally, individuals recovering from an illness that included high fever, undergoing surgery, or dealing with thyroid imbalances are at risk too. Even lifestyle factors like crash diets lacking protein or stopping birth control pills suddenly can jumpstart telogen effluvium for some.

Anyone taking medications such as anticoagulants need to be aware of potential side effects related to hair health as well.

Symptoms of Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a form of nonscarring alopecia that leads to widespread hair thinning. The most visible sign is an increase in hair shedding.


  • Increased daily hair loss: Individuals may notice a higher amount of hair falling out during routine activities such as brushing or washing their hair.
  • Noticeable scalp patches: Over time, the excessive loss of hairs can result in visibly thinner areas, particularly on the top of the head.
  • Diffuse thinning: Unlike male pattern or female pattern baldness, which affect specific areas, telogen effluvium typically causes uniform hair thinning across the scalp.
  • More club hairs: The condition increases the number of telogen-phase hairs, known as club hairs, which are released from the scalp upon combing or shampooing.
  • A positive hair pull test: When gently pulling a small section of hair, more than normal will come out in people with telogen effluvium.
  • Emotional distress from appearance change: Individuals may experience anxiety or depression due to changes in their physical appearance and self-perception.


Causes of Telogen Effluvium

  1. Physiologic stress: This includes acute illness, chronic illness, hormonal changes, and changes in diet.
  2. Hormonal changes: Such as pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or thyroid disorders.
  3. Emotional stress: Severe emotional distress or psychological trauma.
  4. Nutritional deficiencies: Particularly iron, protein, biotin, and vitamin D deficiency.
  5. Medications and treatments: Certain medications like retinoids, beta-blockers, anticoagulants, chemotherapy drugs, and radiation therapy can trigger telogen effluvium.
  6. Medical conditions: Chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases (lupus), thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism), and infections can contribute to telogen effluvium.


Diagnosing Telogen Effluvium

Diagnosing Telogen Effluvium involves conducting a thorough medical history and physical examination to rule out other potential causes of hair loss. Diagnostic tests such as scalp biopsy or blood tests may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.


Diagnostic tests


To diagnose telogen effluvium, several diagnostic tests may be conducted. Trichoscopy, which allows for magnified visualization of hair and scalp, can aid in the evaluation of telogen effluvium. The Hair Shedding Visual Scale is utilized to assess the severity of hair shedding, providing a quantitative measure. Scalp biopsies may be performed to differentiate between various forms of alopecia and assess chronic diffuse telogen hair loss in women. Videodermoscopy, a non-invasive tool used to evaluate hair and scalp disorders, can also aid in diagnosing telogen effluvium. Additionally, trichoscopic findings such as the color-transition sign are considered when differentiating alopecia areata incognita from telogen effluvium.

Treatment Options for Telogen Effluvium

Several treatment options are available for Telogen Effluvium, including medications and other therapies to promote hair regrowth and manage the condition. To learn more about these treatment options, continue reading our blog.




The treatment of telogen effluvium may involve the use of medications alongside other therapies. Several medications may be prescribed to address the condition effectively:


  1. Minoxidil: This over-the-counter medication is commonly used to promote hair regrowth by increasing blood flow to the scalp and widening hair follicles.
  2. Finasteride: Available for men only, this prescription medication can help to prevent further hair loss by inhibiting the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
  3. Topical Corticosteroids: These medications can reduce inflammation in the scalp and promote hair growth when applied directly to the affected areas.
  4. Systemic Corticosteroids: In severe cases, oral or injectable corticosteroids may be utilized to suppress the immune system’s response and alleviate inflammation.
  5. CNPDA (Cysteine, N-acetyl cysteine, Pantothenic acid, and Sodium Citrate): This combination therapy has shown promise in helping to improve hair density and reduce shedding in individuals with telogen effluvium.

Other treatments


In addition to medications, there are other treatment options available for telogen effluvium. These may include:


  1. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT): This treatment uses red light therapy to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair regrowth.
  2. Scalp massage: Regular scalp massages can improve blood circulation to the hair follicles, promoting healthy hair growth.
  3. Nutritional supplements: Taking supplements such as biotin, iron, and vitamin D can help address any nutritional deficiencies that may contribute to telogen effluvium.
  4. Stress management techniques: Adopting stress-reducing practices like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness can help minimize the impact of stress on hair health.
  5. Dietary changes: Consuming a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals is essential for maintaining healthy hair growth and preventing further shedding.
  6. Topical treatments: Using topical solutions containing minoxidil or other hair-stimulating ingredients can aid in promoting new hair growth and reducing shedding.


Prognosis of Telogen Effluvium

The prognosis of Telogen Effluvium varies, with most people experiencing regrowth of their hair within 6-9 months after the triggering event. To learn more about this condition and how to manage it, continue reading our blog.


Hair regrowth after Telogen Effluvium


Hair usually grows back within three to six months after experiencing Telogen Effluvium. This regrowth typically occurs without the need for treatment, as the condition often resolves on its own.

It’s essential to maintain a balanced diet and manage stress levels to support healthy hair regrowth following Telogen Effluvium.

In some cases, specific treatments or supplements may be recommended by a healthcare professional to promote faster hair regrowth; however, recovery timelines can vary from person to person.

Prevention of Telogen Effluvium

To prevent Telogen Effluvium:



Telogen Effluvium versus Androgenic Alopecia

Understanding the differences between Telogen Effluvium and Androgenic Alopecia is crucial in identifying the type of hair loss one might be experiencing. Below is a comparison outlined in an HTML table format.


Telogen Effluvium Androgenic Alopecia
Typically a temporary condition Is a permanent form of hair loss
Caused by stress or shock to the system Primarily due to genetic predisposition
Affects the entire scalp uniformly Patterned hair loss, more noticeable at hairline and crown
Hair shedding can occur quickly and in large amounts Hair thinning happens gradually over time
No miniaturization of hair follicles Follicles shrink, leading to thinner hair
Often resolves on its own once stressor is removed Treatment usually necessary to stop progression
Both sexes are equally affected More common in men but also affects women
No specific age group; can happen at any age Increases with age, more prevalent in adults


Each type of hair loss requires a unique approach to treatment and management. Recognizing the differences aids in seeking appropriate care.


In conclusion, managing stress and maintaining a healthy diet are important for preventing telogen effluvium. Treatment options such as minoxidil and iron supplements can aid in hair regrowth.

Consulting with a dermatologist is crucial for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and available treatments empowers individuals to address telogen effluvium effectively.


1. What is telogen effluvium and how does it cause hair loss?

Telogen effluvium is a condition where more hairs enter the resting phase of the hair cycle, leading to diffuse alopecia or widespread thinning of scalp hair.

2. Can both men and women get telogen effluvium?

Yes, telogen effluvium can affect anyone, causing female-pattern hair loss and male pattern baldness due to various triggers.

3. What are common reasons someone might develop telogen effluvium?

Stressful events, like illnesses with fever or rapid weight loss from diets, thyroid disease, iron deficiency, and other health issues can lead to this type of temporary hair shedding.

4. How does a dermatologist determine if you have telogen effluvium?

A clinical examination by a dermatologist often diagnoses it through research on your medical history and sometimes tests like blood work to check for iron levels or thyroid function.

5. Are there any effective treatments for telogen effluvium?

Treatment options may include addressing underlying causes such as improving physical health with a balanced Mediterranean-style diet rich in whole grains and taking supplements like iron if needed.

6. Will my hair eventually grow back after experiencing telogen effluvium?

Hair usually regrows on its own once the triggering event has passed or been treated; however, it’s important to keep up with nutritional needs and manage stress for healthy growth.