By: Ava Alderman: I sometimes hear from people who think (and very much hope) that they are starting to see some improvement in their telogen effluvium or shedding. There typically comes a point in this process where you get very tired of seeing the hair falling out and dealing with the lack of volume, so you begin to watch your hair and scalp with an eagle eye. You start to be on the look out for any signs that you might be in recovery. The problem can come when you don’t know what is a sign of recovery and what is not. This article is meant to outline the steps that you might see on your road to recovery.
Step One: The Trigger Is Removed: This type of shedding is caused by stress to your body. Sometimes, that is an illness. Other times, it is a change in hormones. Occasionally, it can be an inflammatory response or an allergic reaction. So long as the body is no longer under stress, has recovered, or no longer has a reoccurring trigger, the affected follicles should eventually go from the shedding phase to the growing phase and recovery begins. Chronic telogen effluvium occurs when the trigger or stressor is ongoing or another trigger (like inflammation) pops up so that the shedding continues.
Step Two: Regrowth Begins: Honestly, as soon as a hair is kicked out of its follicle and sheds out, another hair is in line to take its place. You won’t be able to see that baby hair replacement for a little while, but rest assured that the process starts long before you realize it. Since hair only grows 1/2 inch per month and can come in lighter colored or very thin, it can take a while before you get a good look at your regrowth, but it is typically there long before you can actually see it.
Any Inflammation Or Miniaturization Present Shows Up: Ideally, once you start actually being able to see regrowth without too much trouble (which should happen in a couple of months or so,) the shedding will have started to taper off some. If the shedding is still going full force with no sign of letting up, it’s probably not a bad idea to examine your scalp for signs of inflammation. Sometimes, if you have a red, pink, itchy, tingly or painful scalp, you might have inflammation exacerbating the shedding. The inflammation can be treated, so it makes sense to be on the look out for it.
Another thing you want to look for is miniaturization. Regrowth hair can look kind of thin and pale when it is first growing. But once it gains a little length, it should start to look normal. If you have obvious miniaturization, it makes sense to evaluate for androgen – driven hair loss or AGA. Now, prolonged and chronic telogen effluvium can cause some mild inflammation (at least in my experience,) but it’s important to be conscious of this because the earlier that miniaturization and the androgens are treated, the better the results are going to be.
Not everyone has inflammation or miniaturization. Many people do not. But it’s smart to watch for both because the earlier they are addressed, the better the result.
The Volume Begins To Fill In As Follicles Are In The Growing Phase Again And Hair Gains Length: As the majority of your hair is back in the growing phase for a while, the strands that are regrowing should start to gain some length. When many strands gain this length at once, that is when you start to get a gain in volume. It is when your hair should start looking more full. And since most of your follicles are getting nourished again, the hair should regain it’s health and sheen. Telogen effluvium hair can look dull, fly away, and dry. But once you are in recovery for a while, your hair should regain it’s health and look shiny and manageable again.
This process doesn’t always come as fast as we would like. But as long as the trigger is removed and inflammation / miniaturization are kept at bay, you should eventually get your hair back. By definition, telogen effluvium is a pause – not a permanent loss. The hair that is lost grows back. And since the follicles should not be permanently affected, you should theoretically eventually end up with the hair you started with.
Of course, if you have too many cycles of telegen effluvium (which turns into CTE) or you struggle with your trigger, then this process can take longer and be more drastic than any of us would like.
I did have some chronic telogen effluvium. But that was before I knew how important combating the inflammation truly was. Once I understood this and embraced preventatives, things got much better. There’s more about my experience on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/