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Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is when alopecia is due to an increase in the number of hairs that are typically shed each day.  Approximately 10-15% of our hairs are normally in the resting stage called telogen, the stage when hairs are normally shed.  Certain ‘stresses’ on our system can increase this percentage to 50% or more.  Most often this occurs around 2 – 3 months after this ‘stress’.  Some stresses are one-time occurrences such as surgery, general anesthesia, giving birth, stopping birth control pills, a severe emotional event, high fever or quick and significant weight loss.  Usually, with a ‘one-time stress event’ hair loss will begin two to three months after the stress, continue for three to four months and then resolve with hair re-growth.  Other stresses, however, are more chronic and the hair loss continues until the stress is removed.  Some examples are: medications, certain medical illnesses, hormonal irregularities and nutritional deficiencies.

Treatment: Workup of a telogen effluvium involves a detailed history and an evaluation to identify what the underlying stress or stresses may be.