Telogen Effluvium is when some stress causes hair roots to be pushed abnormally into the resting, or ‘telogen’ state. It can be caused by a number of things, but is commonly associated with stress. While normally temporary, regrowth of hair can be encouraged.
As we discus at length on this page, your hair goes through three stages of growth, roughly once every few years. The ‘telogen’ phase is when your hair follicles go in to a resting phase, shedding an old hair ready for the growth of a new one. Effluvium just means, ‘discharge’, in this case, at least.
It is normal to lose around 100 hairs each day, be it on your pillow in the morning, or most likely, on your comb. This is part of normal hair growth, as each follicle sheds an old hair ready for a new one to grow. Hairs will grow for a few years, then rest for a few months, shed, and regrow. Read about your hair’s growth phases.
A telogen effluvium is when stress, a shock or illness causes many hairs to be pushed into the resting state, all at once. This stress or shock can result in as much as 70% of hairs falling out, often very quickly and in alarming amounts.
This is a very different problem than the gradual genetic hair thinning, usually called Male Pattern Baldness.
Minoxidil has the effect of pushing your hair follicles back in to the ‘anagen’, or growing, phase. While Minoxidil is only approved for cases of Male Pattern Baldness, it will stimulate your follicles to grow new hair, earlier than if left untreated.
Telogen Effluvium Generally isn’t Permanent
That’s the good news. This type of hair loss caused by a ‘shock to the system’, will subside in time, assuming the causes are addressed. ‘Normal’ hair should begin to grow back within a few weeks or months. The important point there, is “assuming the causes are addressed”. If you have suffered, or are suffering, from this stress related hair loss, the most important thing is to identify the cause, rather than to simply address the symptoms.
Once identified, it is important to work on the problems which caused your hair loss. You can read more about stress-related hair loss here.
Minoxidil stimulates hair growth by increasing blood flow to your follicles. While Minoxidil is not a cure for Telogen Effluvium, it certainly will speed up the recovery process.
The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD) has a decent article about Telogen Effluvium, if you need to learn more.