Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event. In simple words, telogen effluvium is defined as increased hair shedding.
Your hair loss occurs from the top of your scalp. It is a temporary condition and usually, your hair grows back once the causative factor is eliminated or managed well.
Telogen effluvium results in significant hair thinning which is noticeable and commonly occurs in women. Your hair does not start to fall immediately. It is a result of stress over a long period of time and can start anywhere after weeks or months of continued stress. This condition is reversible and the earlier the cause is addressed, the better it is.
To understand how large amounts of sudden hair loss happens, let’s take a closer look at your hair cycle.
Phases of Your Hair Cycle
Hair is a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the dermis (the deeper, thicker layer of your skin). In humans, hair follicles undergo repetitive growth and resting phases. Your hair cycle has typically three phases:
Anagen or growth phase: Your hair grows continuously for a fixed duration during the anagen phase. At the end of anagen, the hair fiber is retained for a period of time before it sheds and is replaced.
Catagen or transitional phase: The catagen phase marks the end of the active growth of a hair. This phase is short and lasts for only about 2-3 weeks. During this phase, your hair transitions into club hair.A club hair is formed when your hair follicle cuts off from its blood supply and from the cells that produce new hair. After about 2 weeks, that particular hair follicle enters the telogen phase.
Telogen or resting phase: The last phase of your hair cycle is the telogen or resting phase where your hair remains in the follicle until it is pushed out by the growth of a new anagen hair. This phase lasts for about 100 days for hairs on the scalp and much longer for hairs on the eyebrow, eyelash, arms, and legs.
When your body is subjected to extreme factors such as stress, shock, or trauma, as much as 50 percent of your hair is forced to enter the telogen phase and begin to fall, causing a noticeable loss of hair, resulting in telogen effluvium.
Diet Tips to Manage Telogen Effluvium
Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for keeping telogen effluvium under control and eventually stimulating hair growth again.
1. Increase vitamin B supplements. The main vitamin responsible for hair growth is biotin that helps in producing a protein, called keratin. Keratin is responsible for hair growth.
Vitamin B6 is commonly found in liver, chicken, fish, and pork, while Vitamin B12 is in eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, and milk. Dried beans, bananas, and potatoes are also great sources for B6.
2. Add zinc to your diet. Zinc plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair. Zinc compounds have been used for treating patients with telogen effluvium. Add foods rich in zinc such as oysters, beef, and pumpkin seeds.
3. Eat lysine-rich foods. It’s an essential amino acid that your body can’t produce on its own. Therefore, lysine has to be acquired through dietary sources like nuts, eggs, cheese, sardines, poultry, pork, and red meat. Lysine helps in the absorption of zinc and iron in the hair follicles and hence helps in hair growth.
4. Include iron-rich foods. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body to fuel your metabolism and aid growth and repair. Making changes in your diet by adding iron-rich foods may help with hair loss. These include red meat, liver, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and lentils.
5. Vitamin C and D for hair growth. The deficiency of these vitamins increases your risk of telogen effluvium and makes it harder for hair to grow back fully.
You can help yourself by adding certain foods to your diet. Vitamins C is available from citrus fruits such as grapefruit, orange, kiwi, lemon, etc. Vitamin D can be found in soy milk, almond milk, cod liver oil, salmon, etc.
6. Include spinach in your diet as it contains folic acid, iron, vitamins like A and C, all of which promote hair growth. Vitamin A helps in producing sebum (a yellowish oily substance that is produced by the sebaceous glands in your skin) for your skin and hence moisturizes the scalp as well hence, aiding in better hair growth.
6. Vitamin E protects areas of the skin, like the scalp, from stress and damage. Damaged skin on the scalp can result in poor hair quality and fewer hair follicles. Including vitamin E in your diet can restore the quality of your hair. Vitamin E is available from avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
With telogen effluvium, it is common for hair to grow back within 3 to 6 months after the cause has been dealt with. Sometimes, the rate of shedding slows down but does not stop entirely. In most cases, no more than 50 percent of the hair is lost. Fortunately, correcting a deficiency in any of these nutrients may help treat hair loss and promote the rate of hair growth.
1. Dermnetnz.org. 2021. Telogen effluvium | DermNet NZ. [online] Available at: <https://dermnetnz.org/topics/telogen-effluvium/> [Accessed 4 March 2021].
2. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2021. Telogen Effluvium. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430848/> [Accessed 4 March 2021].
3. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.aocd.org/page/telogeneffluviumha> [Accessed 4 March 2021].
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