How Often Should I Wash My Hair With Telogen Effluvium?

By: Ava Alderman: If you are suffering from severe hair shedding, then you probably know that washing your hair can become a traumatic event. This may sound silly or overly dramatic to people who haven’t been through this. But for those of us who know the reality of having hair all over our clothes and floor, we know that it is no dramatization to say that it can almost seem as if you are losing huge, alarming amounts of hair every time that you wash it.

Understandably then, many of us consider washing it less. We aren’t always happy about this since some of us have additional itching when we’re shedding. But we figure if we can forego a wash or two and save ourselves a lot of spent hairs, then perhaps all of this would be worth it. It’s not uncommon for me to hear comments like: “I used to wash my hair every day. But now that I have telogen effluvium and am shedding, it’s psychologically difficult for me to shed my hair. The drain is nearly clogged with my hair. I have read that you really don’t need to wash your hair that much. In fact, I’ve read some celebrities wash their hair about once per week. Would washing less help me? How often should you be washing your hair with telogen effluvium?”

I’m not a doctor or hair specialist, but I do have an opinion on this based on my own experience and research. I completely understand this. Because when I was shedding, I experimented with washing my hair less. Here is what I found, although I would encourage you to see for yourself. Not washing as often didn’t really save me any hairs, I don’t think. Because what happened is that I just shed so much more on the days that I did wash. So I believe that the average number of hairs per day were probably about the same or maybe even a little more.

Not only that, but my hair itched, my scalp burned, and the overall experience was more painful. I was using an anti-inflammatory shampoo at that time and I believe that going days without this benefit wasn’t helpful to my hair, my scalp, or to me. Also, if your hair loss is in any way due to inflammation or a response to androgens, not washing your hair can make these responses more intense, which can lead to more shedding. Plus, your hair tends to take on a bad texture when its shedding and it can be limp and look oily. Not washing your hair can make the appearance of your hair a little worse, and this can be psychologically damaging as well.

So my answer to the question would be that, to the extent that you are able, I would keep up the hair washing regimen that worked for you before the shedding. If this is too difficult, maybe you could add one additional non-washing day without a huge surge in inflammation or oiliness. When my shedding was at its worst, I would wash with regular shampoo one day and dry shampoo the next. But I would not go for so long that you risk your follicles being affected by debris.

Instead, I would try to wash my hair as gently as I could. But I would also understand that if my hair is in the resting or shedding phase, not washing it isn’t going to save it. Hair that has switched phases is going to fall out at some point soon anyway. And this is true whether you are washing it or not.

One thing that helped me with this process was to allow my hair to mostly dry in a towel.  This kept me from seeing the fall out and helped psychologically.  Also, my hair didn’t pull out as much if I styled it when it was mostly dry. If it helps, you can read more about my experience on my blog at

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