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Telogen Effluvium - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Definition

Telogen effluvium is a form of nonscarring alopecia characterized by diffuse hair shedding, often with an acute onset. A chronic form with a more insidious onset and a longer duration also exists. Telogen effluvium is a reactive process caused by a metabolic or hormonal stress or by medications. Normally, recovery is spontaneous and occurs within 6 months. If there is some shock to the system, as many as 70% of the scalp hairs are then shed in large numbers about 2 months after the shock. This sudden increase in hair loss, usually described as the hair coming out in handfuls, is acute telogen effluvium. No treatment is needed for most cases of telogen effluvium. Remember that the hairs fall out when a new hair growing beneath it pushes it out. Thus with this type of hair loss, hair falling out is a sign of hair regrowth.

Causes

  1. Acute illness such as febrile illness, severe infection, major surgery and severe trauma can cause telogen effluvium.
  2. The diseases like diabetes, lupus and thyroid disorders can cause telogen effluvium.
  3. Having inadequate protein or iron in your diet or poor nourishment in other ways can cause you to experience telogen effluvium.
  4. Medications, of which the most frequency cited are beta-blockers, anticoagulants, retinoid which includes excess vitamin A, propylthiouracil which induces hypothyroidism, carbamazepine, and immunizations can also cause telogen effluvium.
  5. Severe psychological stress can also cause this disease to occur.
  6. Major surgery or illnesses are also risk factors in causing this disease. These increases the chances to have this disease a lot.

Symptoms

  1. Thinning of hair over the entire head is the most common symptoms in telogen effluvium.
  2. If you have telogen effluvium, you'll notice more hair than usual accumulating on your pillowcase, on the shower or bathroom floor and in your hairbrush.
  3. In this disease men usually lose hair on the front hairline and forehead and on top of the head. Only hair around the ears, the sides, and back of the head remains unaffected.
  4. In active telogen effluvium, the gentle hair pull test will yield at least 4 hairs with each pull. If the patient's active shedding has ceased, the hair pull will be normal.
  5. There should be no areas of total alopecia in a patient with telogen effluvium. Scarring is not present.

Treatment

  1. No treatment for active telogen effluvium has been proven effective. Some causes of the disorder can be corrected.
  2. While chronic telogen effluvium is less likely to resolve rapidly. Often, the knowledge that the hair loss will not progress to baldness is comforting to the patient. The patient should be encouraged to style the hair in a way, which masks any perceived defects in hair density.
  3. In cases where hair growth has not returned to a satisfactory level, your doctor may prescribe minoxidil which is a lotion applied to the scalp that stimulates hair growth in some people.
  4. Avoid the hair color or cosmetics which are capable of making the hairs weak.
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