Effluvium: Another Type Of Hair Loss
The translation of effluvium is “outflow”. Effluviums are just another form of hair loss that typically affect the different stages of the regular hair growth cycle. Hair is not continuously being produced by our hair follicles. It is cycling through stages of growth that can last a few years. Once the hairs have reached maturity in the growth phase, they will start a resting phase that will last a couple of months before brand new hair starts to grow again. At any given time, roughly 2/3 of our hair is in the growth phase, also called the anagen phase. This means that 1/3 of our hair is in the resting phase (also known as the telogen phase).
This is the most common form of effluvium hair loss. This form of hair loss is when the hairs that should be in the anagen (growth) phase stay in the telogen (resting) phase. Because new hairs are not growing when they should be, hair loss occurs. This form of hair loss is first noticeable by the signs of diffuse thinning in the hair. It can appear in different places on the scalp and is not always even hair loss all over. Some people can have it to a small degree where they won’t even notice the hair loss. Others may have a more severe case where the hair loss can be seen all over the scalp.
With telogen effluvium, the hair loss is rarely ever to a point where the patient will have balding all over or to any drastic degree. What is also reassuring about this type of hair loss is that, in almost all cases, the hair loss is temporary and can be reversed. Because this loss of hair is not caused by the follicles being damaged in any way, it is basically like having to reset a computer to get the follicles back on track and producing hair again.
3 ways that telogen effluvium develops
1. “Shock loss” is a form of telogen effluvium. It is caused when the area in or around the hair loss has some form of trauma or shock. In most of these cases, the hair loss will be sudden and noticeable fairly soon after the initial “shock” that caused the hairs to decide to go into the resting phase. Basically, this is when the hairs get a little “freaked out” about something and suddenly run and hide. But as soon as they see that the coast is clear and it is safe to come out again, they will start to go back into the normal growth cycle and new hairs will be born.
2. The second kind of telogen effluvium starts out a little more slowly and can also last a bit longer. This happens when the follicles that are in the resting, or telogen, phase get lazy and don’t want to go back to work in the anagen phase. As a result, more hairs are in the resting phase and not enough are producing hairs. So thinning hair is the end result.
3. The third type is when the hairs do not stay in a resting phase and start right back into the growth phase for short periods of time. They then cycle through the growth phase cycles too quickly. The result is constant shedding of short and thin hairs.