Chronic Telogen Effluvium: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

By Paul Taylor

Chronic telogen effluvium. The clue’s in the name:

Chronic - A very long-term condition.

Telogen - The hair growth cycle resting phase.

Effluvium - This means shedding.

So, basically, you could suffer this type of hair loss for years, during which time you might experience relentless shedding due to your hair follicles being forced out from the growing phase (anagen) and into the resting phase.

The big question is:

What forces hair follicles to do this?

This page explains possible chronic telogen effluvium causes and symptoms, and gives three suggestions how to stop it.

Chronic telogen effluvium

What Causes It?

Chronic telogen effluvium (CTE) is, in some cases, thought to be caused by an iron deficiency. Iron is one of several important minerals your body needs, not just for growing normal healthy hair, but for many other essential processes too.

CTE can affect both men and women, but it’s mostly women who develop it. That’s because women suffer a gradual depletion of iron from blood loss during menstruation (monthly period).

So, if you suffer heavy periods most months, you could have significantly low iron stores in your body.

CTE is very common in women, especially between the ages of 18 and 50. However, an iron deficiency does take time to develop. So it could be years before you start noticing symptoms.

Post-menopausal women might not be in as much risk of developing CTE in this way (unless perhaps an accumulative iron deficiency began years before their menopause).

Note though that anyone (including men and women of any age) can still develop this condition if their dietary iron intake is low:

Your diet might be to blame

The richest and most bioavailable (i.e., the easiest form for your body to absorb) source of dietary iron comes from red meat. So it's possible that a vegetarian diet (or one that lacks red meat) can also lead to chronic telogen effluvium.

Men, of course, can be vegetarians (or avoid red meat) just as much as women. So, they too could develop a nutritional iron deficiency and, in time, also suffer from CTE.

However, clearly those most at risk will be women who not only have heavy monthly periods, but also eat very little red meat or none at all.

Chronic Telogen Effluvium Symptoms

The main symptoms of chronic telogen effluvium are evenly distributed hair loss (diffuse hair loss) and diffuse thinning spread out across the whole scalp. This means it's not patchy (like alopecia areata) or restricted to the crown of the head as in androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness).

And, since it affects the whole scalp, CTE might not be obvious to anyone except you. Women often notice it by having less hair available to tie up in a ponytail. And there will probably be more hair left in brushes, combs and the sink after shampooing too.

Telogen effluvium symptoms

An iron deficiency can also cause anemia. So you could be at risk of developing this condition too. In which case, other possible symptoms might include low energy levels and a pale complexion.

How long does CTE last? Will it ever stop?

That all depends on the extent of your iron deficiency, what's causing it, and what steps you take to tackle it. If you do nothing, you can't expect your CTE to ever clear up "miraculously" on its own. You really do need to take action and get some treatment.


Three possible approaches are suggested below. However, obviously you first need to confirm that your hair loss is definitely being caused by chronic telogen effluvium. The standard iron blood test is for hemoglobin levels (which tests for anemia).

But, for CTE, you would need to get your "serum ferritin" levels checked (which tests your stored iron levels).

Once you know you definitely have chronic telogen effluvium, to stop it you'll first need to start correcting your iron deficiency:

1. Can you eat your way to a full head of hair?

Red meat rich in iron

No, not really.

Eating a large chunk of red meat like this every day would eventually raise iron levels.

But whilst some might consider this to be a "natural" solution, it’s not exactly practical (or healthy) to eat such a large amount of red meat, and for such a long period of time, for most people.

2. Iron supplements

Iron tablets for hair loss caused by CTE

A high strength iron supplement is the quickest way to increase ferritin levels, but will take quite some time to reverse a deficiency (perhaps several months).

However, on its own, even a high dose iron supplement might not be enough to raise ferritin levels.

That's simply because it might not get absorbed by your body very well.

So that’s where more specialized supplements can help. One of these is Nutrihair (also known as Florisene) which, in addition to iron, also contains other ingredients to help with iron absorption. These include vitamin B12, vitamin C (1) and L-lysine (2).

3. Try a practical way to stop it?

My own hands-on techniques for encouraging hair regrowth were originally developed to reverse androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness).

But, although this type of hair loss is driven by a totally different mechanism to chronic telogen effluvium, my techniques have also helped people suffering from this condition too.

That’s because my techniques quickly improve scalp flexibility and circulation. And I believe this is what stimulates the scalp follicles back to health so they can start growing healthy hair again much sooner than they otherwise would without my hands-on help.

But obviously you would also need to start correcting the iron deficiency that caused the problem in the first place.

This is page 2 of 2.

Read previous page? Other types of telogen effluvium.

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