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Acute telogen effluvium

Acute telogen effluvium is the most frequent alopecia after androgenic alopecia. This alopecia occurs because many follicles enter the hair ageing phase, known as the telogen phase, which lasts 2-5 months until hair loss begins to be noticed. 

What symptoms does acute telogen effluvium cause?

It consists of the sudden loss of a large number of hairs, which usually alarms the patient, who sees a large number of hairs in the brush when combing their hair, in the drain after a shower or on the pillow after sleeping. 

  • Large number of hairs on the comb, brush or pillow
  • The hairs become more brittle and tend to fall out more easily
  • There is not usually a loss of hair density on the scalp

It is very important to know that this type of alopecia is totally reversible. Any hair that falls out is replaced by new hair, so the total number of hairs remains stable. 

This means that the patient will not become hairless in a few months, as many fear, but that telogen effluvium can actually be considered an "acceleration" of the normal cycle of hair loss and hair regrowth.

Causes of acute telogen effluvium

This type of telogen effluvium is a very common type of hair loss alopecia, especially in women, the main causes are the following:

  • Physical stress (such as illness, surgery or pregnancy).
  • Stress associated with study or work
  • Treatment with drugs and hormones (hormonal contraceptives, anticoagulant drugs).
  • Acute infections and high fever
  • Bleeding
  • Emotional stress (bereavement, emotional problems)
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Excessive hypocaloric diets

These causes cause a high number of hairs to enter the telogen phase and in a few months the follicles begin to fall out of the scalp. 

It is important to bear in mind that when suffering from acute telogen effluvium, this usually generates a very important anxiety in the patients, they see how every day they can lose more than 100 hairs, this situation produces greater stress which leads to greater hair loss. 

How is acute telogen effluvium diagnosed?

The diagnosis is usually made by clinical findings together with the anamnesis (clinical examination process) and often the diagnosis is guided by the patient himself. 

Sometimes an analytical study and capillary analysis is recommended to identify possible nutritional or vitamin deficiencies or associated diseases that have not been previously diagnosed.

Treatment for acute telogen effluvium

In terms of treatment, the ideal is to identify the cause that may be producing the effluvium and act on it. 

In many cases, no cause other than work-related stress is identified, and in these cases, there is no more effective treatment than simply waiting, as the duration of acute telogen effluvium is usually limited to a few months.

Acute Telogen Effluvium