Hair loss is a severe problem for most aging people. It’s estimated that nearly seven million Americans are experiencing hair loss, with more people joining these numbers. It’s usually for various reasons, such as genetics, illness, medications, or stress. But no matter the reason, hair loss can be challenging to deal with.
However, there are some unique reasons why people experience hair loss. One of these reasons is related to a person’s mental state. It’s a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium.
What is Telogen effluvium
Telogen effluvium is a hair loss characterized by shedding more hair than usual. It usually occurs after a person experiences a significant life event, such as a death in the family, a divorce, or even a job loss. The stress from these events can cause the hair to enter the telogen or resting phase. In this phase, the hair follicles are dormant and not actively growing.
While in the telogen phase, the hair is still attached to the follicle. But the follicle is not receiving the nutrients it needs to grow. As a result, it can cause the hair to fall out easily when brushing or shampooing. Telogen effluvium usually causes diffuse thinning of the hair rather than bald spots. It can also affect different areas of the scalp differently.
Symptoms of Telogen effluvium
The most common symptom of telogen effluvium is hair shedding. It can happen all over the scalp or in specific areas. The shedding usually occurs a few months after the stressful event. However, it can last for several months and, in some cases, up to a year.
Other symptoms of telogen effluvium include:
- Thinning hair
- Hair that’s dull and lifeless
- More hair in the brush or on the pillow
- Difficulty growing your hair out
Illnesses Comorbid With Telogen effluvium
Telogen effluvium has its own set of comorbidities. But unlike other scalp-related problems, the comorbidity of Telogen effluvium is primarily with mental disorders. The most common mental disorder comorbid with Telogen effluvium is general anxiety disorder (GAD).
GAD is a mental disorder that’s characterized by excessive worry and anxiety. People with GAD often have trouble sleeping and may experience other symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, and fatigue.
When people have GAD, they might unconsciously pull their hair out from the immense stress they are experiencing from the anxiety. Once they do, this can trigger a Telogen effluvium. Another known comorbidity with Telogen effluvium is major depressive disorder (MDD)
MDD is a mental disorder that’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. People with MDD often have trouble sleeping and may experience other symptoms, such as fatigue, loss of interest in activities, and weight changes.
Because of the symptoms, most people with MDD can get malnourished. Malnourished people don’t get the necessary nutrients they need, which can then trigger Telogen effluvium.
Complications With Telogen Effluvium
There are also certain complications with Telogen effluvium. These complications are usually with bald-related disorders such as Seborrheic dermatitis.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a bald-related disorder that’s characterized by dandruff, itchiness, and redness. It can be confused with Telogen effluvium because people who experience this kind of dermatitis experience rapid hair loss in a short amount of time.
A professional is needed to distinguish the two disorders. An experienced scalp specialist should be able to know the difference. It’s essential that you visit one if you want to have the right diagnosis. They can even deal with your baldness if your hair can no longer grow back.
Treatment for Telogen effluvium
There is no specific treatment for telogen effluvium. The hair usually grows back on its own within six to nine months. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to manage the shedding and make your hair look and feel better.
Here are some tips:
- Use a mild shampoo. Avoid shampoos that are harsh and drying.
- Be gentle with your hair. Avoid hot showers, hair dryers, and curling irons.
- Use a wide-toothed comb. Avoid brushing your hair when it’s wet.
- Use a leave-in conditioner. It will help keep your hair from tangling and breaking.
- Try not to stress out. Stress can make telogen effluvium worse. If you’re having trouble managing your stress, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce it.
- Avoid crash diets. A sudden change in diet can trigger telogen effluvium. If you’re thinking about starting a new diet, talk to your doctor first.
Rapid hair loss can be alarming and happen all of a sudden. If experiencing rapid hair loss, take it easy and not stress yourself too much. If it happens for more than two weeks, it might be time to visit a professional. By doing that, you can get the correct diagnosis and even treatment if necessary.