By: Ava Alderman: Most people who have telogen effluvium are somewhat and weirdly comforted by this fact. After all, if you have to have hair loss, at least you want to have a type that is temporary, partial, and doesn’t affect the follicles. What I mean by this is that if you have a condition like alopecia areata, this may cause full or very dramatic hair loss. And if you have androgenetic alopecia, then this DOES affect that follicles and can be something that people have to deal with for the long term.
Theoretically telogen effluvium is a temporary condition that affects only some of the hair and the follicles are not affected over the long haul. So when it’s over, your hair should grow back and you should have a healthy scalp – assuming that this process hasn’t caused an inflammation issue.
However, in some cases, telogen effluvium lingers on for longer than the “normal” time frame of around three months. I put normal in quotation marks because quite frankly, I’ve known many people whose hair loss has gone on for longer than a quarter year, myself included. Anyway, this longer period of time is called “chronic telogen effluvium,” since the loss becomes chronic and tends to linger.
People who have chronic telogen effluvium can become extremely frustrated. First, there is frustration because the loss seems to go on and on. But worse, you can sometimes see your regrowth and get very encouraged about it, only to find that it falls out again. When I had CTE, I used to get really sad when I would read people with TE who said that their regrowth looked like a crew cut on top of their regular hair. Because for me, I could never get to this point. My regrowth hair was also actively shedding, since the cycle of shed just continued on and on. So I always felt that I was losing what I had gained. And this made my regrowth harder to spot, so I felt quite discouraged.
But here are a couple of things that might help. Even if the regrowth is hard to see, it is there. Try spraying white dry shampoo and see if this makes it easier to spot. Once a hair is pushed out, a new hair takes it place. So although it may be hard to see, the nature of your hair cycles suggests that it is there – unless you’re having severe miniaturization and / or inflammation.
As far as the regrowth hair falling out, I know that this is frustrating. But by definition, TE only affects part of the follicles at various times. This means that ALL of your regrowth is not going to be affected. And the affected hair will shed at different times. This means that even if you lose some of your coverage, you still should gain some of what you lost. And even as you continue losing, you will continue replacing.
Sure, it would be better to have the shedding stop completely so that the regrowth could eventually catch up and your regrowth could eventually fill in. And this may well happen one day soon. (Even CTE eventually ends.) In the meantime, you are still making gradual progress. While you are waiting, make sure that your follicles are free from inflammation and debris. Keep your scalp very clean and evaluate if you have any inflammation that might be an additional trigger that is keeping you on the shedding train. Sometimes, we don’t start with any inflammation but after months and months of our follicles basically being a revolving door, inflammation can crop up. And it can become a secondary trigger.
I know that this is discouraging. I had CTE and at the time, I felt like it was an unending nightmare. I had no idea what I’d done to deserve it. But it DID end. And in the meantime, I learned some tips that I still use today that keeps my hair and scalp healthy. Hang in there. You can read more about my hair loss and recovery my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com