By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who ask me what is the time frame to “cure” telogen effluvium or dramatic hair shedding. Understandably, people want this “cure” to happen as soon as is possible. Shedding what seems to be bucket loads of hair is not at all fun. And you can start to become worried or paranoid that the shedding is going to dramatically change your appearance if it doesn’t stop.
Someone might say something like: “I have a wedding coming up in about nine weeks. Can I cure my telogen effluvium before that? I don’t want my hair to be falling all over my dress and I don’t want it to be thin in the wedding pictures. So how would I go about curing it?”
Most experts will tell you that really, there isn’t a “cure” for telogen effluvium except for time. Because technically, the shedding is happening because something has happened to the body (an illness, medications or diet, etc.) that causes some of the hair follicles to reset themselves. So hair that was growing before suddenly begins to shed instead. Once all of the hair that makes this switch sheds out and begins to regrow, then your hair should just resume with its normal cycles. Yes, it may be a little more thin and you may have to be patient as it fills in. But theoretically, there is no lasting damage to the follicles. They have simply reset.
Where this gets tricky is that the follicles can be reset gradually. Every hair that is going to be affected by the telogen effluvium does not shed out at one time. As you probably already know, it happens over the course of weeks or even months. Experts will tell you that the process can take as long as three months (unless you have chronic telogen effluvium.)
There are also a few more issues that can complicate things. There is often an inciting trigger that kicks off the telogen effluvium. Many triggers are one-time events – like giving birth or having surgery. They resolve by themselves. But other triggers are ongoing – like hormonal changes, chronic illness, or a trigger that you just can’t be identified. If the trigger doesn’t disappear, the shedding can sometimes continue.
Also, sometimes the shedding kicks off inflammation, that itself becomes a trigger. And the stress that the TE causes can raise cortisol, which is a hormonal change, (and also a potential new trigger.) Fortunately, some people do not experience this type of secondary trigger. For them, the “cure” for TE is simply time. They have to wait for all of the affected hair to reset. For others, there is a need to lessen stress and to tame inflammation. If you are not sure which category you fall into, you can try to cover all of the bases by eating well, keeping stress levels down, combatting scalp inflammation, and asking yourself if you have eliminated the trigger or it is possibly ongoing. Also, if the hair loss continues on, you want to ask yourself if its possibly another type of hair loss. But if you are very early into this, it very well could still be telogen effluvium.