Anagen effluvium is another form of hair loss similar to telogen effluvium. It can develop way faster though and may cause patients to lose all of their hair. Anagen effluvium is most commonly found in patients who take cytostatic drugs used to treat cancer or in people who have ingested certain toxic products such as rat poison.
These toxic substances slow down rapid cell proliferation. That is the desired effect if you are trying to block the spread of a cancer, but hair follicle cells are some of the fastest at proliferating while still being non-cancerous cells. Hairs from the scalp’s follicles grow up to 0.5 mm a day. The cytostatic drugs used in cancer treatments, various toxins, and other poisons are used to inhibit rapid cell growth. This includes the proliferation of cells that are found in hair follicles. The end result is an immediate shutdown of hairs being produced.
The onset of anagen effluvium is very quick. Some patients who are taking these anti-cancer drugs have literally been able to pull their hair out in clumps within the first 2 weeks of taking the drugs. Because these drugs are so potent and can cause this reaction so quickly, the follicles haven’t got the time to enter into the telogen (resting) stage. This is similar to another form of hair loss called telogen effluvium.
The difference between telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium is that with anagen effluvium, the follicles enter into a state of suspended animation. The hairs fall out quite quickly, but are mostly dystrophic hairs that have a tapered end at the root. With telogen effluvium, the hairs have little bulbs of white keratin at the root. Anagen effluvium also develops more quickly and can cause complete hair loss on the scalp or even the whole body.
Reactions and results will vary from person to person. Some patients can even experience a mixture of anagen effluvium and telogen effluvium, meaning more temporary hair loss.
Even though the onset of anagen effluvium happens quickly, the same can be said for the hair restoration. Because these follicles are basically just frozen in time, they are able to grow immediately after the cause of the anagen effluvium has been removed.
A person can start to see new hair growth within a few months of completing a cancer treatment. The follicles are not damaged, so there should be regular density of hair growth. However, some people may notice changes in the structure of the hair fibres that are produced. Some people find that their hair changes from straight to curly or vice versa. Sometimes the hair even changes colour.