Telogen Effluvium: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Telogen Effluvium: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

I. Introduction 

A. Definition of telogen effluvium

B. Characterization of the condition 

C. Reactive process triggered by: 

  1. Metabolic stress 
  2. Hormonal changes 
  3. Medications

II. Etiology 

A. Common triggering events 

  1. Acute febrile illness 
  2. Severe infection 
  3. Major surgery 
  4. Severe trauma 
  5. Postpartum hormonal changes (decrease in estrogen) 
  6. Hypothyroidism 
  7. Discontinuing estrogen-containing medication 
  8. Crash dieting 
  9. Low protein intake 
  10. Heavy metal ingestion 
  11. Iron deficiency 

B. Medications linked to telogen effluvium

  1. Beta-blockers 
  2. Retinoids (including excess vitamin A) 
  3. Anticoagulants 
  4. Propylthiouracil 
  5. Carbamazepine 
  6. Immunizations

III. Epidemiology 

A. Occurrence in various demographics 

B. Prevalence and commonality in adults 

C. Greater tendency in women due to postpartum hormonal changes

IV. Pathophysiology 

A. Triggering mechanism 

B. Effects on hair growth cycle 

C. Telogen hair and its characteristics

V. Histopathology 

A. Identifying histologic findings 

B. Normal number and density of hair follicles 

C. Increased percentage of follicles in catagen or telogen phase 

D. Diagnostic criteria (25% of follicles in the telogen phase)

VI. History and Physical 

A. Patient presentation and symptoms 

B. Abrupt onset of hair shedding 

C. Identifying causative events 

D. Role of scalp biopsy and serial hair collections for diagnosis

VII. Treatment / Management 

A. Self-limited nature of acute telogen effluvium

B. Recovery of hair growth after addressing causative factors

C. Role of medications and hair transplantation 

D. Potential use of topical minoxidil

VIII. Differential Diagnosis A. Other conditions with similar symptoms

IX. Prognosis A. Impact on patients and hair density recovery B. Good cosmetic outcome for acute and chronic telogen effluvium

X. Complications A. Benign and reversible nature of telogen effluvium

XI. Deterrence and Patient Education A. Timeframe for hair growth recovery B. Reassurance for normal grooming and styling C. Importance of patient education

XII. Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes A. Role of interprofessional team in diagnosis and management B. Educating patients about self-limiting nature and outcomes

I. Introduction

A. Definition of Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium (TE) is a common type of hair loss characterized by excessive shedding of hair from the scalp. It occurs due to disruptions in the hair growth cycle, particularly an increased number of hair follicles entering the resting (telogen) phase prematurely. Unlike other types of hair loss, TE leads to diffuse hair thinning rather than specific bald patches.

B. Characterization of the Condition

TE is considered a reactive process, which means it is triggered by various factors that disturb the body's equilibrium. This hair loss condition can be categorized into two forms: acute and chronic. Acute TE usually lasts for a short period and is commonly associated with identifiable triggering events. On the other hand, chronic TE may persist for more extended periods and may be more challenging to pinpoint the exact cause.

C. Reactive Process Triggered By:

  1. Metabolic Stress: Prolonged illnesses, high fever, and nutritional deficiencies can induce metabolic stress on the body, leading to hair shedding.
  2. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, especially after childbirth or due to thyroid imbalances, can contribute to TE.
  3. Medications: Certain drugs can disrupt the hair growth cycle and trigger TE. Some common medications linked to TE include beta-blockers, retinoids (including excess vitamin A), anticoagulants, propylthiouracil, carbamazepine, and immunizations.

II. Etiology

A. Common Triggering Events

TE can be sparked by a variety of events and conditions, including:

  1. Acute Febrile Illness: High fevers, severe infections, and inflammatory conditions can disturb the normal hair growth cycle.
  2. Major Surgery: The physical stress caused by major surgeries can trigger TE.
  3. Severe Trauma: Traumatic events, both physical and emotional, can lead to hair shedding.
  4. Postpartum Hormonal Changes: After childbirth, women experience hormonal fluctuations, particularly a decrease in estrogen, which can trigger TE.
  5. Hypothyroidism: Underactive thyroid gland can disrupt the balance of hormones, affecting hair growth.
  6. Discontinuing Estrogen-Containing Medication: Stopping birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy may lead to TE.
  7. Crash Dieting: Rapid weight loss and restrictive diets can induce metabolic stress and cause TE.
  8. Low Protein Intake: Inadequate protein consumption can negatively impact hair growth.
  9. Heavy Metal Ingestion: Exposure to certain heavy metals may contribute to TE.
  10. Iron Deficiency: Anemia and iron deficiency have been linked to hair loss.

B. Medications Linked to Telogen Effluvium

Various medications have been associated with TE, either as a side effect or due to their impact on the hair growth cycle. Some common medications include:

  1. Beta-blockers: Used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions.
  2. Retinoids: Medications derived from vitamin A, used to treat skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.
  3. Anticoagulants: Blood-thinning medications.
  4. Propylthiouracil: A drug used to treat hyperthyroidism.
  5. Carbamazepine: An anticonvulsant medication.
  6. Immunizations: Some vaccines have been associated with triggering TE.

III. Epidemiology

A. Occurrence in Various Demographics

TE can affect individuals of all ages, races, and genders, but it is more commonly seen in adults.

B. Prevalence and Commonality in Adults

TE is a prevalent cause of hair loss in adults. Stress-related hair loss, including TE, can be particularly common during times of major life changes or challenges.

C. Greater Tendency in Women Due to Postpartum Hormonal Changes

Women are more prone to experiencing TE due to hormonal fluctuations after childbirth. Postpartum hair loss is a temporary form of TE that affects many women in the months following childbirth.

IV. Pathophysiology

A. Triggering Mechanism

The exact mechanism that leads to TE is not fully understood. However, it is believed that the body's response to stressors, whether physical or emotional, plays a significant role in disrupting the hair growth cycle.

B. Effects on Hair Growth Cycle

The normal hair growth cycle consists of three phases: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (resting phase). TE shifts a higher percentage of hair follicles into the telogen phase, leading to increased shedding of hair.

C. Telogen Hair and Its Characteristics

Telogen hairs are hairs in the resting phase that are easily shed when subjected to triggers like combing or washing. They have a characteristic club-shaped root.

V. Histopathology

A. Identifying Histologic Findings

Histopathologicalexamination of scalp biopsies is sometimes necessary to confirm a diagnosis of TE and differentiate it from other forms of hair loss.

B. Normal Number and Density of Hair Follicles

TE does not result in a reduction in the total number of hair follicles, but it does impact their growth cycles.

C. Increased Percentage of Follicles in Catagen or Telogen Phase

In TE, a higher percentage of hair follicles are in the telogen or catagen phase, which is different from the typical balance seen in non-TE scalps.

D. Diagnostic Criteria

One of the diagnostic criteria for TE is the presence of at least 25% of hair follicles in the telogen phase.

VI. History and Physical

A. Patient Presentation and Symptoms

Patients with TE typically present with diffuse hair thinning, increased hair shedding during combing or washing, and a receding hairline.

B. Abrupt Onset of Hair Shedding

TE often has a sudden onset, and patients may notice a significant increase in hair loss over a short period.

C. Identifying Causative Events

A thorough medical history is essential in identifying the causative factors that may have triggered TE.

D. Role of Scalp Biopsy and Serial Hair Collections for Diagnosis

Scalp biopsies and serial hair collections over time can aid in confirming the diagnosis of TE and ruling out other conditions.

VII. Treatment / Management

A. Self-limited Nature of Acute Telogen Effluvium

Acute TE is typically self-limiting, and hair growth usually returns to normal once the underlying trigger is addressed.

B. Recovery of Hair Growth After Addressing Causative Factors

Identifying and addressing the underlying triggers can help promote hair regrowth and resolve the condition.

C. Role of Medications and Hair Transplantation

In some cases, medications like topical minoxidil may be recommended to stimulate hair regrowth. Hair transplantation is generally not necessary for TE but may be considered in specific cases.

D. Potential Use of Topical Minoxidil

Topical minoxidil, a medication that promotes hair growth, has shown promise in stimulating regrowth in individuals with TE.

VIII. Differential Diagnosis

In the diagnostic process, other conditions that can cause similar symptoms to TE must be ruled out to ensure an accurate diagnosis. These conditions may include:

  1. Androgenetic Alopecia: Also known as male or female pattern baldness, this is the most common cause of hair loss and can be differentiated from TE by its distinct pattern of hair loss, often affecting the crown and front of the scalp.
  2. Alopecia Areata: An autoimmune condition characterized by patchy hair loss, alopecia areata can be distinguished from TE by its abrupt onset of round, smooth bald patches.
  3. Anagen Effluvium: This type of hair loss occurs during the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle and is often triggered by chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  4. Trichotillomania: An impulse control disorder where individuals compulsively pull out their hair, resulting in patches of hair loss.
  5. Scarring Alopecia: Conditions that lead to permanent destruction of hair follicles, leaving scar tissue and irreversible hair loss.

IX. Prognosis

A. Impact on Patients and Hair Density Recovery

The prognosis for TE is generally good, especially for acute cases. Once the triggering factors are addressed or resolved, most individuals experience a full recovery of their hair density within several months.

B. Good Cosmetic Outcome for Acute and Chronic Telogen Effluvium

Both acute and chronic TE cases usually result in a favorable cosmetic outcome, as the hair growth cycle returns to normal once the underlying cause is managed.

X. Complications

TE is considered a benign and reversible condition, and there are no significant complications associated with it. However, the emotional and psychological impact of hair loss on some individuals should not be underestimated, and support and reassurance are essential during the recovery period.

XI. Deterrence and Patient Education

A. Timeframe for Hair Growth Recovery

Patients should be informed that hair regrowth after TE takes time and may not be immediate. Typically, hair density improves gradually over several months.

B. Reassurance for Normal Grooming and Styling

Patients can be reassured that regular grooming and hairstyling practices do not worsen or contribute to TE. However, avoiding harsh chemical treatments or hairstyles that cause excessive tension on the hair may be beneficial during the recovery period.

C. Importance of Patient Education

Educating patients about TE, its self-limiting nature, and the factors that may trigger it can help alleviate anxiety and empower them to manage their condition effectively.

XII. Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

A. Role of Interprofessional Team in Diagnosis and Management

The diagnosis and management of TE often require collaboration between different healthcare professionals, including dermatologists, primary care physicians, and endocrinologists. An interprofessional team approach ensures comprehensive evaluation and effective treatment.

B. Educating Patients About Self-limiting Nature and Outcomes

Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in educating patients about TE, its expected outcomes, and the importance of addressing any underlying triggers. Proper patient education leads to better compliance with treatment recommendations and enhances overall patient satisfaction.

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Sep 21st 2023 a2zbestproducts

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