This patient information on Telogen Effluvium is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Telogen Effluvium is an unusual form of temporary hair loss. It can occur at any age, and in either sex. Typically it appears as sudden diffuse hair loss. Many more than the normal one hundred hairs per day are lost from the scalp. Sometimes up to fifty percent of the hair can be lost over a few weeks or months. The scalp is normal and the hair that remains appears normal. At times it may be difficult to tell from hereditary forms of hair loss, but unlike the gradual heredity forms of hair loss this is a much more sudden onset. Patches of complete hair loss do not occur in this condition as with alopecia areata. Although most will re-grow hair within six months after the hair loss has stopped, a small percent have a persistent form.
What causes it? Severe stress to the body causes Telogen Effluvium. This is not usually mental stress but physical stress. This stress causes an upset in the biologic clock of the hair roots. This upset turns off hair growth and causes the hairs to fall out. There are a number of events that cause this physical stress, and all the events will have occurred one to six months prior to the beginning of the hair loss. Some of the more common causes are: crash diets, chronic illness, pregnancy and delivery, major surgery, severe trauma, medications and some scalp diseases.
Is it dangerous? It is not dangerous and causes no harm other than cosmetic stress.
Can it be cured? Increased hair loss generally continues from one to six months. The lost hairs almost always re-grow, but sometimes the hairs that re-grow are slightly thinner than the previous hairs. Therefore, after Telogen Effluvium, your hair may not feel as thick and full as it previously did.
Is it contagious? Telogen Effluvium is not contagious and you cannot "catch it" from anyone.