Chronic Telogen Effluvium

Chronic telogen effluvium is among the common causes of hair loss. Since its discovery in 1961, research has shown that women with telogen are more likely to visit a dermatologist than those without.

Hair is critical to the identity of most women. Personality, femininity, attractiveness and sexuality are associated with hair in women more than men. Hair loss affects women by lowering self-esteem, restricting social interactions and eventually reduces the quality of life. Therefore, any condition that affects hair growth is essential for healthy living.

What is Chronic Telogen Effluvium?

Chronic Telogen Effluvium (CTE) is a reversible form of hair loss caused by iron deficiency. It is more common in women than men and occurs when the hair cycle is disrupted.

Telogen effluvium causes an abrupt and often shocking episode of hair loss. The shedding is experienced several weeks or months after the underlying risk factors are a trigger. It is considered chronic if it lasts more than six months.

Human hair cycle involves three phases, namely:

  • Anagen (growth phase)
  • Catagen (transitional phase)
  • Telogen (resting phase)

As its name suggests, the disorder occurs at telogen phase. Approximately 5 to 10% of human hair is at this stage at any specific time. Telogen effluvium causes the anagen phase to slow down. Stunted growth implies that fewer strands of hair proceed to the next stages.

About 30% of hair follicles transition to the telogen phase. It is at this stage that noticeable hair shedding is reported. Unlike balding where the hairline recedes backward, with telogen effluvium, it can happen on any side of your head.

What causes Chronic Telogen Effluvium?

Chronic telogen effluvium occurs as a result of traumatic episodes that cause stress, depression or shock. The disorder that causes CTE is referred to as alopecia areata, a condition characterized by iron deficiency.

During a traumatic period, the amount of iron in your blood reduces. This is also experienced by women during periods. It is common for women between 18 and 50 years of age. People suffering from hormonal stress are mostly affected.

People in developed countries are most affected. Accidents, natural distasters and human-made calamities are the leading causes of depression. Death or sickness of a loved one can stress family, friends and colleagues.

Other causes include:

  • Prolonged episodes of stress
  • Pregnancy complications during pregnancy and childbirth
  • Iron-deficient diets
  • Underlying health issues
  • Taking certain medications
  • Surgery

What are the symptoms of Chronic Telogen Effluvium?

Shedding of hair is the most common symptom. If you discover too much hair in your comb, you are perhaps suffering from CTE. Have you found unusually large amounts of hair on your pillow or in your bathroom?

How to diagnose Chronic Telogen Effluvium

It is easy to diagnose chronic telogen effluvium at home because the symptoms are visual. Your spouse, parent, child or other close family members can easily tell when your hair falls off. See an experienced doctor as early as possible. Timely diagnosis increases the chances of expedient treatment and full recovery.

Hair lost test

The doctor analyzes hair lost. Some of them may check the length and diameter of the fallen hair to determine the cause. Others may administer a hair pull test to determine how much shedding has occurred.

Blood test

Blood tests are often conducted to establish causes of hair loss. Insufficiency of iron and thyroid deficiency can be determined through blood tests. Alternatively, your doctor may request a wash test where the numbers of hairs lost in a single wash are counted.

How to treat Chronic Telogen Effluvium

Your doctor determines the best treatment option based on the cause and stage. It’s prudent to report the problem as soon as possible for a proper and timely diagnosis. When specialists have enough time to determine what caused a disturbance in hair cycle, the odds of getting the right treatment increases.

The following are the most common treatment options for chronic telogen effluvium.

  • Nutrition: the doctor may recommend you to increase intake of iron and zinc. Red meat, fruits and green vegetables are rich sources of these vitamins and minerals. Eggs, fish, beans, nuts and grains provide healthy proteins and building blocks for hair growth.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: this is a common remedy for women in menopause because of low amounts of estrogen hormone.
  • Non-surgical hair replacement: this involves the application of topical creams on the scalp. Your doctor may recommend hair rejuvenation creams that strengthen hair strands.
  • Mineral supplements: increase the amount of ferritin fast with iron supplements. Ferritin is a hormone that stimulates hair growth.
  • Managing stress and anxiety: join a support group to help you deal with the cause of stress. Alternatively, talk to an experienced mental health profession for counseling and emotional support.

No wonder or magic procedure can treat CTE. Avoid backstreet quacks who promise hair regrowth in a couple of days. Also, avoid heavily advertised formulas and hair regrowth creams.

Over the counter drugs and ointments are not always regulated. They don’t guarantee full treatment and recovery from hair loss. In fact, some may introduce harmful chemicals such as mercury on your scalp.

During treatment, avoid conditions that may worsen hair loss. Examples include exposure to chemicals in plants and heat treatments. Avoid perming or curling your hair in heated therapies.

Chronic Telogen Effluvium Recovery

Hair can start growing again within three-six months if adequate treatment is administered. If you can deal with a stressful condition fully, recovery will be faster. A combination of several treatments can also increase the recovery duration.

In some cases, recovery is slow. Treatments can slow down shedding of hair without stopping it entirely. However, you will not lose more than 50% of hair in a single episode of CTE. People who cannot afford hormone replacement therapy may not recover completely.

Avoid drugs and smoking if you are affected by CTE. These habits cause vitamin and mineral deficiency in the body, hampering the recovery process. Instead, focus on a balanced diet.

Have a positive mental outlook on your hair. Rest assured that it is a temporary problem that can be fixed. Keep in mind that it will not develop baldness, as causal factors are different. Stay motivated and get a hairstyle that may hide the condition if necessary.

Chronic telogen effluvium is a hair loss condition that can be treated and reversed. However, you must ensure you seek treatment on time and follow your doctors’ prescriptions and advice accordingly. Above all, remain optimistic, eat healthily and exercise. Are you struggling with hair loss? Do you think CTE is responsible?