Stress can do funny things to the human body, from affecting our ability to cope and interact with the world around us, to more physical symptoms such as hair loss. Stress can cause a hair loss condition known as Telogen Effluvium.
At any one time, around 10% of hair is naturally in its resting phase, known as the telogen phase. In times of sudden shock or severe stress, usually healthy hairs are forced to stop growing and enter into this phase prematurely. The final stage of the telogen phase, after around three months, is shedding to allow new hair to grow through. Consequently, around three months after the trigger incident, sudden and drastic hair loss can occur.
Triggers for Telogen Effluvium can be anything from childbirth and pregnancy terminations to more universal catalysts such as severe emotional distress, often caused by personal traumas such as divorce, or an unexpected accident.
Why are women more susceptible to Telogen Effluvium?
As there are a wider possible series of triggers that affect women, it is not surprising that this condition affects females more than males. Several potential triggers of Telogen Effluvium are related to child bearing and can only be experienced by women. Far from being an unusual affliction, it’s estimated that around a fifth of new mothers experience some hair loss after giving birth, with some studies placing the figure as high as 45%.
This is in sharp contrast to pregnancy, when many women notice their hair feels stronger and looks glossier, largely thanks to the influx of progesterone and oestrogen the body releases around this time. After birth, the body instantly drops these hormone levels, which can shock hair into its resting phase, causing Telogen Effluvium.
The same is true of women who experience hair loss following a termination or while taking a contraceptive pill – the sudden change in hormone levels is a key trigger.
How are men affected?
There are several potential triggers which affect both sexes equally; these can include surgery, extreme grief or stress, or some medical treatments that can cause both female and male hair loss.
Undergoing major surgery places a huge strain on an individual, both physically and emotionally. Although procedures which affect the scalp, such as micrografting follicles, have an increased chance of causing Telogen Effluvium, it can be caused by any type of major surgery which causes a shock to the body.
There are also a number of drugs associated with surgery, mainly blood thinners and cholesterol lowering drugs, which have hair loss as an associated symptom. For more information on these drugs, see our page on Telogen Effluvium.
Can Telogen Effluvium be treated?
The good news is that Telogen Effluvium is usually a temporary condition, and hair should naturally restart its growth cycle following the telogen phase, providing the trigger cause is no longer an issue. However, there are several steps which can be taken to ensure quicker and healthier re-growth. For more information, please contact the Belgravia Clinic or complete an online diagnostic form.