Telogen Effluvium: Cause, Symptoms and Treatment Ideas

By Paul Taylor

Telogen effluvium - What are the symptoms? What causes it? And how can you reverse or cure it?

This page explains this type of hair loss and also suggests how to stop diffuse thinning hair using three treatment ideas.


Obviously you first need to find out exactly which type of hair loss you have. And your doctor should, of course, be able to help confirm this through:

  • Blood tests.

  • Examination of your scalp.

  • Consultation about your health in general.

You can also get a pretty good idea of telogen effluvium symptoms from the photos below.

First, notice how the hair has thinned out substantially, causing the scalp to show through. However, you can also see that there are no areas of total baldness as is often the case with alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia.

Telogen effluvium in men and women

Also notice how the hair loss is spread out evenly across the whole scalp. That’s a typical telogen effluvium symptom. In fact, that's why this condition is also known as diffuse thinning or diffuse hair loss.

Note: Diffuse thinning hair is something my own home remedy can successfully treat. See the Treatment section below.


There can be several causes of telogen effluvium, but all involve a disruption to the normal hair growth cycle.

This repeating cycle includes anagen (the growing phase), catagen (active hair growth stops) and telogen (the shedding and resting phase).

If you're in good health, approximately 90% of your scalp hair will be in anagen at any one time, and the other 10% is mostly in telogen (1). Within a few months, this telogen hair falls out and the whole cycle starts again.

If you have a full head of hair and no hair disorder, what all this basically amounts to is that you should lose about 100 hairs per day as part of your normal hair growth cycle (1).

However, if you’ve got telogen effluvium, you could lose a lot more than 100 hairs per day. That’s because, far more than the usual 10% of your hair is being forced into telogen.

So the big question is:

What forces hair out of anagen and into telogen?

Many things can do this, including:

1. Diet – Some nutrients are essential if your natural hair growth cycle is to continue as normal. Only very small amounts might be needed, but if your body doesn’t receive a regular supply, the health of your hair can start to suffer.

For example, a 2002 study stated that: "In otherwise healthy individuals, nutritional factors appear to play a role in subjects with persistent increased hair shedding" (2).

So, if you often eat unhealthy food, and your nutrient supply is inadequate, then you could be asking for trouble.

And drastic dieting can also cause problems. If you go on a crash diet, that daily decrease in calories might mean you don't just lose weight, you might start losing hair too (3).

Learn more about how nutritional deficiency and crash diets can hinder hair growth.

2. Hormones - Sudden hormone disruption can cause several types of hair loss. So, clearly it’s very important to maintain balanced hormone levels.

But that's easier said than done - how do know when you’ve got a hormone imbalance? A few potential causes are quite obvious (such as pregnancy and the menopause) but many others are not.

3. Illness – Clearly there’s never a good time to suffer hair loss. But being ill can often take its toll on your hair as well as your body.

Whilst the health of your body is obviously your main concern, the health of your hair can often have a huge psychological impact. And if you’re seriously ill, it’s important to have a positive mindset, not a negative one.

4. Medication - If you’re taking powerful drugs to combat a serious illness, you might find yourself suffering serious side effects too. Many conventional medicines work on a "magic bullet" principle – targeting a specific disease to produce an immediate effect.

But there can be consequences, and your hair growth cycle might get thrown out of whack.

5. Injury – An injury can cause shock and stress. And when your body is stressed, your hair can be the first to show it.

6. Stress – There are many types of stress (physical, chemical, emotional, etc). And any of these can adversely affect hair growth.

That’s because, during the stress response, your peripheral circulation (i.e., to your skin, hair follicles, etc.) can quickly get interrupted and blood flow diverted inside your body. So if you suffer chronic stress, you could develop chronic hair loss too.

Learn more about hair loss and stress?

Looking through the list above, it's easy to understand why women suffer this type of hair loss more than men. For example, women are far more likely to go on a crash diet than men.

But, since the growth cycle of hair is the same for everyone, men can be affected by this condition as well. From all these many different causes, three types of telogen effluvium can emerge.


1. Chronic telogen effluvium (CTE)

CTE is very common in women especially. CTE is caused by an iron deficiency which can often develop through poor diet, heavy bleeding during periods, or both.

You can get some treatment ideas for CTE on the next page.

2. Acute telogen effluvium

If a serious event in your life takes place, any severe shock it causes could lead to a sudden increase in hair loss.

However, it might be difficult to pinpoint the actual reason for the hair loss because, as already mentioned, there can be a few months delay before shedding starts after hair has been forced out of anagen and into telogen.

With this disorder, as much as 70% of the scalp hair can be forced into telogen and then start to fall.

That’s a lot of hair!

Note: This condition can also be easily confused with alopecia areata because both can cause rapid hair loss.

3. Postpartum telogen effluvium

Hair loss after pregnancy can be caused by a number of things, including hormone imbalance, thyroid conditions and immune system disorders.

To learn about three different types of postpartum hair loss, and a suggestion about how you might treat it, read this postpartum hair loss article.

How To Stop Telogen Effluvium - Treatment Ideas

Once you know which type of telogen effluvium you have, you can then figure out how to stop it. The following three tips should help:

1. Deal with the underlying cause – whether it be stress, a nutritional deficiency, a recent pregnancy, etc., once you’ve identified the reason behind your diffuse hair loss, take appropriate action against the underlying cause.

2. Give it time - it can take quite some time to correct. This might vary from six months (CTE) to 18 months (postpartum telogen effluvium).

3. Try hair loss treatments and products? If, after giving your body sufficient time to cure the problem on its own, your hair is still not growing properly, start thinking about products and treatment options that can definitely tackle telogen effluvium.

Also bear in mind the following:

If things get worse

If you’re not seeing any real improvements by the time you should have, you might have some other type of hair loss as well. This is quite possible. In which case, it could  be very tricky to diagnose – you would definitely want to see your doctor for tests.

However, whatever the reason why your hair growth has not recovered (or if you feel you need to do something immediately to encourage hair regrowth anyway) start with the most simple and affordable ideas first.

My own approach to hair loss has been highly praised by both men and women, including those with different types of hair loss. For example, here's a testimonial from a lady who had telogen effluvium:

"Had a run in with telogen effluvium a few months back, it was fantastic... I really think you're on to something."

Yvonne Snell, USA

Read this page to learn how I reversed my own hair loss.

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Read next page?  Chronic telogen effluvium.

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