Does Telogen Effluvium Cause Grey Hair?

I sometimes hear from people who feel that they’ve been suffering from hair loss symptoms which they are not sure are related to their telogen effluvium.  Yes, they’ve had the expected hair loss.  But they also notice changes in texture or color.  I sometimes hear from people who notice grey hair and who can’t find any documentation that the shedding could be causing their hair to grey.

Someone might say: “I am only 27 years old.  For the past seven months, I have lost massive amounts of hair.  No one is sure why it has happened.  My health is good.  I have not changed medications.  I have been under stress because of an illness in my family.  So that is the only thing that we can figure out.  I suspect that I have chronic telogen effluvium because obviously, it has gone on for longer than what is considered typical.  And my hair looks really awful due to the loss of volume.  But even worse, now I’m seeing greys sprouting at my temples.  I’m too young for this.  And none of the females in my family turned grey early.  Could my telogen effluvium be causing this?  Will the greys stop once the TE does?”

There’s not a lot of literature about TE causing grey hair.  It is thought that grey hair is caused when the production of melanin slows down.  This typically happens as we age, but some experts believe that stress can have an affect on free radicals, which then slows melanin, which in turn causes grey hair. You only need to look at past presidents of the United States to see that this is possible.  They all seem to age (and go grey) pretty rapidly.  So, it is possible that the stress could be causing both your TE and your bit of grey hair.  Another possibility is that sometimes, your regrowth comes in a bit lighter colored and then darkens up with time.  My hair is medium brown, but my regrowth came in with an almost blonde tinge and then darkened as it grew in longer.  I did notice a few greys when I was in recovery also.  This is going to sound odd, but I didn’t mind them because they were thicker in texture, which added to my volume.  Once my active shedding ended, I colored only the grey hairs with one of those wands and gentle non-ammonia touch up coloring.  And it did seem like I saw less of them in time.

Here is another theory which I used to account for some of my miniaturization (which thankfully reversed for the most part.)  I’m not an expert on this in any way, but from my own experience and from speaking with others, I believe it is possible that CTE can age your hair.  Think about it.  A normal hair cycle lasts for 3 – 5 years, so if you have prolonged shedding and your hair goes through a few TE cycles simply because it keeps shedding out and recycling, then your hair now might essentially be the same as it would  6 – 10 years down the road if you’d never gotten TE.  I always thought it was possible that I was getting some of the hair that I might normally have gotten in mid-life had my TE have not happened.

I know that the grey is something that you’d rather not happen.  But try to look at it like at least it is hair growing back. And it may darken as it grows longer in length.  In the meantime, as best as you can, try to manage the stress because this might help in more ways than one.  I know that CTE can be a very tough, draining thing.  If it helps, you can read more about my experience with CTE on my  blog at

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